Ariston, a black swan in Cortina

The Piccolin brothers divide themselves between the Alpine restaurant and their vineyards in Umbria

25-02-2015

Risotto creamed with pumpkin, stir-fried porcini with thyme and a reduction of balsamic vinegar from Modena, an excellent first course by Roby Piccolin, chef at restaurant-pizzeria Ariston in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno

Once upon a time, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Ariston was a cinema and if my memory hasn’t abandoned me completely, it was also a hotel in Via Guglielmo Marconi, right in front of the old train station (with a narrow gauge, little more than a toy which the Sixties’ boom swept away) which for half a century now has been receiving coaches. The building was transformed into a block of flats and the cinema closed, so the name now dominates over the signs of a real estate agency, a bar-ice cream shop and a restaurant-pizzeria.

Brothers Piccolin, Fabrizio (left) and Roberto, aka Roby (right)

Brothers Piccolin, Fabrizio (left) and Roberto, aka Roby (right)

Now, the latter is what I care about. Here, the two Piccolin brothers are at work: the eldest, Fabrizio, in the dining room and the youngest, Roberto, in the kitchen. They smile as they work and this would be enough for me to always sit at their table. Besides, they’re also talented and decisive. Forty years the latter, while Roby is a little younger, they also inherited a farm in Calvi dell’Umbria (Terni) named after their father Andrea. Two red wines, Foies for special occasions and Monte Rosaro for every day. For info call +39.335.6580900, while for the restaurant in Cortina call +39.0436.866705, e-mail bix_1975@libero.it.

Ariston is a white swan in the scene of Cortina d’Ampezzo. While most of the tourist facilities rarely work longer than in high season, the Piccolin brothers manage to cover almost 11 months in a place that is inevitably small, given their nickname [piccolo means small, in Italian], where one can always choose between pizzas and dishes from the kitchen. Both options are valid because Roberto, to begin with, has his physical wellbeing and that of his guests at heart, and every choice is based on this. “I’m literally upset when I cannot digest something so why shouldn’t I consider this when I’m the one to cook?”.

The lovely Felicetti Bio spelt linguine with raw tomato, rocket salad and strips of almonds

The lovely Felicetti Bio spelt linguine with raw tomato, rocket salad and strips of almonds

A perfect argument, hence a pronounced inclination for natural raw materials, a slow yet constant growth (mother yeast will soon be the next step), vegetarian dishes highlighted in the menu while everything is looked after with love, attention and intelligence. The fact they are next to a pizzeria that works on volumes doesn’t help those who don’t know them yet. Telling them apart is not easy and one could think that they’re the same and just sit where there’s a free table.

On Saturday night there was an equally rich and light offer, with home made salami – the same goes for the bread – much different from the usual coloured pieces, made precious with some aroma without any attention to the dough itself. Then, in between four people, we had two pizzas for tasting, in small slices, one with lard, tomato and mozzarella, the second with two different types of ham steak, mushrooms and broccoli. Then came the first courses. The flag dish, which the chef cannot take away from the menu, is Felicetti Bio spelt linguine with raw tomato and strips of almonds; it is good already and with summer tomatoes it will be even better. And then a perfect Risotto with pumpkin, stir-fried porcini with thyme and a reduction of balsamic vinegar from Modena.

The interpretation Roberto Piccolin gives to the traditional groestl with meat, potatoes and mushrooms. In his case, he chooses pork capocollo

The interpretation Roberto Piccolin gives to the traditional groestl with meat, potatoes and mushrooms. In his case, he chooses pork capocollo

Only one main course: Groestl with pork capocollo served with potatoes and Italian porcini. Groestl is typical of German-speaking countries, the meat is usually what’s available, the potatoes are a must and mushrooms, always present, were once often dry, while today they are picked in summer, cleaned and chilled.


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Restaurants from all the world told in Il Giornale by Paolo Marchi from February 1994 to the winter of 2011. And since the spring, for the readers identitagolose.it