Tag Archives: Friuli

Eating and drinking like the locals in Friuli

With only a day allocated for each major city we wanted to visit, I was very keen on seeing Gorizia and Trieste while the weather cooperated in our favor. Three summers ago I had the pleasure of tucking into some of the region’s best dishes, so on this occasion it was a hunt for heartier and heavier meals without worry of breaking a sweat. Our mission included a couple of local customs that I knew we had to try. The first – in giro per bicièri – is similar to the andar per goti pub crawl that had us falling in love with old Verona. The 2nd – the buffets of Trieste – are symbolic of the city’s old dining establishments. These locales typically open their doors early (around 8 to 9am) and service at that hour is kept to the counter where an assortment of fried, baked and grilled foods are set along the length of the bar. All you do is pick and pay.

Trattoria-Gostilna Alla Luna
Via Oberdan 13, Gorizia | Closed Sunday evening and Monday | €€

I happened to look into their restaurant window and noticed the Slow Food sticker – always a good sign in my book – and they seemed to have just opened! A few people were at the counter toasting glasses, and it became clear that they were in giro per bicièri, or having a glass before heading home. We had it in mind to do the same but since it was lunchtime, decided that a table would be a better idea.

The interior is what some might call a tight squeeze but I found it to be cozy, inviting and festive with all of that warm color. The women working there are dressed in traditional slovenian costume.

A plate of local montasio cheese, walnuts and honey to start the meal.

A plate of their own housemade prosciutto and frico croccante, a crispy cheese basket with salty olives within. Even though it’s hard to tell in the photo, hand-sliced prosciutto is much thicker, and feels like ham heaven on your tongue. Slightly salty, rich, sweet, delicious!

Beans and sauerkraut never tasted so good until they were married into a liquid meal. Jota (YOH-tah) is a thick soup that is very popular in this region. The tang of the sauerkraut is only mildly discernible. I’ve seen some recipes where pancetta and/or pork is also added, but this one here did not have any of it from what I could see.

Gubana is a sweet yeast bread filled with a mixture of walnuts, raisins, dried figs, prunes, candied fruit, chocolate and bread crumbs. It is traditionally served with slivovitz, a distillate made from prunes.

Gibanica is a moist, delicate layer cake of poppy seeds, cottage cheese and apples. I’d like to recreate this for xmas eve, but with more layers. See wikipedia link: Prekmurska gibanica.

Buffet Birreria RudyVia Valdirivo 32, Trieste | Open Monday – Saturday from 9am to 1am | €€

Trieste is a handsome city nestled on the Adriatic coast that deserves more time than what we could allow, and I wish we could have actually stayed at least a night. The buffet that we stopped in (top image) had all manner of tempting foods beckoning behind glass displays (2nd image), but again, we decided that a table would be best especially with doggies in tow.

Bad focus job, but I was so impatient to dig in! This antipasto plate included liptauer, a type of cheese spread with roots in slovenian cooking. A whole variety of seasonings go into the mix, but the only one that sticks in my mind is capers. Spicy paprika was sprinkled on top and this was very different in comparison to what I’m accustomed to eating in Italy. Loved it though! An assortment of locally cured meats rounded out the rest of the plate with a basket of plain and caraway seed bread.

A mixed plate of boiled pork, from wiener to jowls to tongue. Spicy mustard and fresh, grated horseradish to dip everything in, with sauerkraut and patate in tecia (background) – a side dish of cooked potatoes mashed with lard and onions – filling in as carbs. There was also a dish of gulasch with potatoes. Meat!! Add to that large mugs of beer and there was no room for anything else except coffee.

The cuisine in Friuli

Where to begin? There was no way to try everything on the Friulian menu in one week as several of the plates I had in mind were more common in the winter months. We focused on eating at osteria/trattoria/gostilna (the slovenian term for trattoria) that kept to tradition in the kitchen, and this was more difficult than it sounds because the hot climate demanded the lighter kind of fare that diners expect. Nevertheless, our determined pursuit of tasting the classics yielded some satisfying results and added even more inches to our waistlines.

Since we were at a hotel not more than 4 miles from the Slovenian border, our curiosity was piqued about influences in the cuisine. Although we did hop across a couple of times, the border towns that we drove past catered to the tourist crowd. Pizza in Slovenia? No thanks. Friuli is also known for some DOP – Denominazione di Origine Protetta (denomination of protected origin) products, among which reigns the Prosciutto San Daniele. Smoked Prosciutto di Sauris (following post), local cheeses, olive oil, and other meat products make it enough to cover atleast a couple days of nibbling. Of the dishes we both enjoyed, the ones in bold print are marked for the kitchen.


A specialty of the Carnia area, this stuffed pasta (typically in the shape of a half moon) has no standard recipe. According to a local resident, each one differs from area to area, village to village, (and even between cooks if there are more than two bright ones in the family.) Served in melted butter with grated, smoked ricotta.

Gnocchi di susine

Swimming in melted butter with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar, these oversized plum (susine) or cherry-stuffed gnocchi all that! We tried these at a place near Gorizia so I’m thinking maybe there’s some slovenian influence with the sweet flavor? They were listed as a first plate, but we ordered one as a dessert. The most unusual dish yet in friulian cuisine.

Gamberi di fiume alla busara

The size of these crayfish were amazing! On the island of Kauai it’s possible to catch them but I’ve never seen crawdaddies so big.
Alla busara has an interesting history behind its origins. The name seems to have come from a particular cooking vessel used by mariners on board.
There is also a dish named spaghetti alla busara.


A coiled yeast bread filled with a mixture of several types of nuts, sugar, sultanas, rum, and cocoa. It certainly breathes of slovenian culture as it is typical to serve a slice with a glass of slivovitz, a profumatic distillate made from prunes (it has a floral scent). The best gubana is made during the xmas season, or so we’ve been told.


Why is it that ground meat in little shapes are always so good? These have equal portions of ground beef, pork, lamb, and seasonings and are formed into small, oblong rolls and grilled. Served with a wedge of grilled polenta, onions, and ajvar, a tasty sauce made with red bell peppers. I really enjoyed this simple dish as it’s the sort of thing where you can’t just stop at one.

A “pancake” of melted cheese that is cooked in a frying pan to piping hot perfection. Two versions – morbido (soft) or croccante (crispy, shown at left). The former has potatoes in it; the latter has none and is sometimes shaped into a bowl by draping it over an inverted dish.

Lubjanska (slovenian) – veal cutlet sliced and stuffed with ham and fontina, then breaded and deep-fried. Think Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Rigojanci (austrian) – pretty much a simple chocolate mousse dessert.