Eating out on the mountain is one of the Dolomites most treasured features. The locals take the food and drink at least as seriously as the winter sports. With many people coming to the Alta Badia area to enjoy gourmet ski safaris and the ever popular ‘sommelier on the slopes’, the Dolomites have forged a niche as one of the alps most gastronomic regions.
Travelling the region, it’s not hard to see, or rather taste, why. With no less than three Michelin starred restaurants in the Alta Badia alone, all drawing inspiration from the areas unique cuisine and stocking an ample supply of local wines, the Ladino kitchen offers a fabulous fusion of Austrian, Italian and Alpine cooking. Some of the dishes have become the height of cool, such as the Cortina classic, Casunziei all’Ampezzana; beetroot ravioli with melted butter, ricotta and poppy seeds. Most have their roots in the traditional peasant food of the Ladin people, with a limited larder but plentiful wild herbs and flowers, triumphing through adversity birthed much of the food here.
Perhaps the greatest pleasure is to be found dining in the many ‘rifugi’ or mountain huts dotted around the mountains. Most offer stunning sun terraces from which the watch the light change to characteristic late afternoon pink on the dramatic rock towers of the Dolomites whilst enjoying some of the local dishes and drinks.
Prepare to loosen your belts, if not the purse strings, as the food in the mountain restaurants here remains remarkably good value when compared to many winter destinations. Pizza is uniformly between 6 and 14 euros depending on the toppings, pasta dishes around the same, with the accompanying 0.5l beer priced between 4 and 5 euros.
Skiing becomes a means of transport, the method by which you move from one rifugio to the next. For a snowshoer, these kind of meals, hearty and filling, are exactly what you want when a mountain pass is what you had to cross to get there.
Make sure you sample everything from our menu below!
Casunziei all’Ampezzana: perhaps the star of the show; beetroot ravioli with melted butter, ricotta and poppy seeds; unique in both appearance and flavour.
Speck: cured raw pork, cold smoked and flavoured with spices such as juniper. Speck from South Tyrol is enjoyed across Italy.
Tris di Canderli: a trio of Ladin style bread dumplings made with bread, milk, eggs and flour and flavoured with spinach, mushrooms and strong cheeses along with the ever-present speck.
Zuppa d’orzo: a creamy soup of barley and speck, often enjoyed with Turtres, savoury pancakes stuffed with spinach and deep fried to the point of crispiness.
Spatzle: mini gnocchi, cooked with speck, spinach, cream and a healthy sprinkle of parmesan is the pasta of the Alta Badia.
Shlutzkrapfen: Casunciei in Badia Ladin, half-moon ravioli filled with spinach and covered in a rich butter sauce.
Kaiserschmarrn: the famous Austrian dessert is equally at home in Sued Tirol, chopped pancakes served with jam, apple sauce and sugar.
Apfelstrudel: another Austrian classic, apple strudel with vanilla sauce is prepared in the Dolomites with a thicker cake-like pastry and often contains pine nuts.
Spritz Aperol: ubiquitous Italian aperitivo. Bright orange in colour with a refreshing bitter taste, the popularity of the Spritz has travelled to many fashionable bars across the UK but can be found for between 3 and 4 Euros across the Dolomites.
Hugo: a cousin of the more common Spritz, the Hugo is a sweet and delicate blend of Prosecco, elderflower, mint and lime.
Bombardino: the statement post-ski drink, bright yellow and topped with cream, Bombardino is made with advocaat and brandy and won’t fail to warm you up for the last run down.