Giuseppe Pino says most Americans he’s met picture pizza, spaghetti or maybe lasagna when they think of Italian food.
But, as the owner of Osteria La Ferrata points out, there’s a lot more to the country’s cuisine than that.
In fact, pizza wasn’t on the menu during a recent visit to the longtime establishment in downtown Pordenone, the nearest large city to Aviano Air Base. Neither was spaghetti.
But for those willing to step outside their “comfort zone,” as Pino puts it, the restaurant has a lot to offer.
The establishment dates to 1850. The restaurant took its name, which translates as “railway” in English, from serving railway workers. The station today is several blocks away, but Pino said that at one time the first road to the station ran right by the restaurant.
Pino describes his eatery’s offerings as typical fare from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Friuli is located in the northeast of the country, and stretches from the border of Veneto (another region) to the Austrian and Slovenian borders.
The region is better off today than many other Italian areas, but many of its people were relatively poor for centuries and the food reflects that, according to Pino. So, like most Italian fare, it’s simple and doesn’t contain a lot of ingredients. The key is the quality of those ingredients and the way they’re prepared.
Appetizer offerings during a recent visit included a mixed cheese plate, ham from Trieste with horseradish, cold cuts and an artichoke flan with Montasio cheese sauce. The cheeses, with a wide variety of textures and flavors, are produced in the mountains not far to the north.
First-course choices included bean soup, potato-and-leek soup with dumplings, and radicchio with beans. Second courses included an omelet on greens, cod with polenta, asparagus with eggs, sliced beef with potatoes, lamb chops with potatoes and steamed vegetables.
Dessert options featured chocolate mousse, a chocolate cake layered with pistachio-and-strawberry ice cream, and another cake made from ricotta and mascarpone.
Frico, a Friulian specialty made of fried cheese, potatoes and sometimes other ingredients such as onions, bacon or mushrooms, was also on the menu. But most of the fare seemed to be lighter than typically seen at many Italian restaurants.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy to get through three courses, let alone four. The portions are larger than usual for Italian restaurants.
The staff says that’s because the restaurant is designed to make diners feel like they’re eating food they’d get at home — at least, if that home belonged to a Friuli native.
Osteria La FerrataAddress: Via Gorizia 7, Pordenone, Italy
Directions: Park in the large free lot near the train station. Head toward the church steeple along the pedestrian street. After walking past the church on the right, take the first left.
Hours: 7 to midnight Wednesday through Monday and noon to 3 p.m. on the weekends. Closed Tuesdays.
Food: Typical fare from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Don’t go looking for pizza and spaghetti. Appetizers range from 8 euros to 9.50 euros (about $10.70 to $12.75), first courses from 7 to 8 euros and second courses from 9 to 15 euros. Desserts are 4.50 euros.
Clientele: Local Italians.
English language menu: Yes.
More information: Phone: 0434-20562; website: osterialaferrata.it (Italian only).
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