An unexpected Gricia and cave-aged cheese risottos. Locanda alle Vigne opens among the Vine Rows of Collio

May 16 2024, 14:56
Locanda alle Vigne offers a blend of traditional cuisine, local ingredients, and a modern, detail-oriented setting. Open for less than two months, the start of this restaurant is promising

Located on an elevated position compared to Strada Regionale 409, which borders a sea of vineyard rows, Locanda alle Vigne provides a small stage to admire the lush landscape of woods and vineyards that surround the area. "Territory" and "local" are the key words around which Chef Saša Zerial and sous chef Isabel Cher shape their culinary vision, while "design" and "warmth" describe the restaurant’s ambience. The opening in Cormòns, in the heart of Collio Goriziano, took place less than two months ago, on March 21st, following a complete renovation of the Subida di Monte winery, which changed ownership from the Antonutti family to the Scarpa family in 2020.

Traditional flavours and local products

Scanning through the menu, it’s immediately noticeable how various ingredients come from local producers. Some dishes reflect traditional flavours, while others resemble those of a big city bistro. “Marinated tongue, Picolit sauce, spring greens and mixed seeds” or “beef tartare with butter, sweet and sour onion, marinated egg yolk and croutons”? After a moment of indecision, we decide to start with tradition. The Toč in braide (polenta, mushrooms, and Montasio cheese fondue) offers a creamy and intense bite with just a few elements. This “farmstead sauce,” as its name translates, is a promising start.

For the main courses, we are drawn by the names of the suppliers of some ingredients. In the “Gricia di Gorica, the guanciale is from the historic D’Osvaldo prosciutto factory, operating since 1940, just a 15-minute walk from the restaurant. The asparagus risotto is creamed with Jamar from Zidarič, a cheese aged in the caves of Trieste. The risotto is a dish shaped by contrasts: the sweetness and crunchiness of the asparagus balance the saltiness of the cheese and the buttery texture of the creaming.

The Gricia di Gorica

Seeing “Gricia” on a menu far from Rome (and even there, it’s not always guaranteed to be authentic) stirs a mix of curiosity and cautious scepticism, revealing a Roman background. Fortunately, this one is excellent: the pecorino, rightly measured, adds creaminess to the dish, and a sprinkle of black pepper gives a sense of fresh spiciness to each bite. The guanciale, however, is the star of the dish—memorable not only for its crispy texture without a hint of burnt notes but also for the quality of the product.

Vegetarian surprises and sweet conclusions

There are also tempting vegetarian surprises, such as the glazed aubergine with hay-smoked stracciatella, a dish that holds its own among the meat-based recipes. For dessert, we stay local with fiordilatte ice cream from Fattoria Gortani and strawberries—a delicious and fitting conclusion.

Glass, wood, and design

Before leaving, we take a small tour of the spacious venue, appreciating the warm and welcoming decor and the most charming spots—windows overlooking the vineyards. Climbing some stairs, we find ourselves in front of the barrels of the company’s vinegar factory (their balsamic vinegar can be tasted by ordering the chicken-filled tortello). Attention to detail provides a modern style, and the venue enhances its aesthetic with a philosophy of "telling the story of the territory" through dishes and local products. It's a versatile place for different moments of the day, from lunch to dinner, including aperitifs, aided by a good drinks list and a wine list that spans local and Italian production but also ventures beyond national borders.

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