Easter in the mountains: the best refuges for dining in the Dolomites

Mar 27 2024, 12:29
For those looking to treat themselves to one last holiday with a winter atmosphere, here are five addresses on the snows of Alta Badia and Val Gardena - above two thousand meters - where you can eat and drink well

by Andrea Ciprian

An Easter that feels like Christmas, with the peaks still beautifully white, ski slopes open, and many tourists ascending to higher altitudes to enjoy mild temperatures and longer afternoons. For those looking to indulge in one last holiday with winter vibes and seeking delightful inspirations, here are five addresses on the snows of Alta Badia and Val Gardena where you can stop for a gourmet break featuring great wines. These are refuges, all above 2,000 meters in altitude, equipped with prestigious cellars that wouldn't be out of place in renowned city restaurants.

Where to Eat at Easter in the Mountains: The Best Refuges in the Dolomites

Rifugio Ütia Bioch – Alta Badia

Perched on a hill dominating the landscape in the heart of the Alta Badia ski area, the Rifugio Ütia Bioch stands out for its excellent culinary offerings and, above all, for an extraordinarily rich and high-quality wine selection: in the brand-new cellar, at 2079 meters above sea level, owner Markus Valentini keeps (and gladly uncorks) around 11,800 bottles comprising nearly 1400 labels, 80% of which are from Alto Adige. For tastings, guests can relax on the spacious sunlit terrace or in the charming indoor rooms where Markus himself suggests wine pairings from his monumental collection for lunch or aperitifs. The selection by the glass is generous, offering a choice of 35 different labels (even more in high season). There are also some true rarities, like the Pinot Noir from the "Bioch Hofstätter Private Cellar" collection. An interesting note: if you hear a faint chirping in the cellar while sipping your glasses, don't be surprised, as the sound effect is intentional by the owner to "cuddle the wines and make them feel even more in nature, among the vineyards". In 2020, Rifugio Ütia Bioch received the "Award for Wine Culture in Alto Adige" from the Consorzio Vini Alto Adige.

Rifugio Ütia Bioch – Località Bioch, Badia (BZ) - 329 5914008

Club Moritzino – Alta Badia

One of the oldest refuges in Alta Badia has over time become a reference point for nightlife in the Dolomites. Throughout the ski season, Club Moritzino is the preferred destination for those who love glamorous aperitifs and daily DJ sets, from December until the slopes close in the already started spring. Founder Moritz Craffonara, even before focusing on entertainment and trendy parties, curated the gastronomic offering, winning the favor of an elite clientele. Today, the venue is managed by his son Alexander and boasts a gourmet restaurant as one of its strengths, with a tempting all-fish menu, and a picturesque and intimate wine bar. Here, the combination of oysters and Champagne for aperitifs has been a must since the Seventies, but in the meantime, the cellar has expanded to reach its current 700 labels: alongside a substantial selection of sparkling wines, there are whites and reds from all over the world, although the focus remains on Alto Adige, Italy, and France. Accompanying the glasses is always a carefully curated selection of cheeses and cured meats, such as delicious San Daniele ham. Club Moritzino is located at 2100 meters above sea level and can be reached directly by cable car from La Villa.

Club Moritzino – Località Piz la Ila, Badia (BZ) - 0471 847403

Rifugio Jimmy – Alta Badia

A spectacular terrace that points straight to the imposing Dolomite walls of the Sella Group. This is the calling card of Rifugio Jimmy, which chef Jimmy Schrott built in 2004, breathing new life into a small family chalet. Along with his wife Gertrud and their sons Max, Philipp, and Felix, they welcome guests in an environment with refined design, meticulously crafted, which inside charmingly recalls the atmosphere of ancient mountain huts. The cuisine is evolving, serving dishes rooted in tradition (like tagliolini with game ragout, canederli, and kaiserschmarrn, the typical sweet omelet), increasingly accompanied by new ideas. But Rifugio Jimmy's foremost pride is its cellar, which currently holds the "Award for Wine Culture in Alto Adige" recognized annually by the Consorzio Vini Alto Adige for excellence in local wine pairing, selection, and service. The selection, with an international scope and prestigious assortment, has grown to 700 labels ranging from those of Alto Adige winemakers (especially small and medium-sized companies with direct contact) to international ones, selected in Europe and around the world, such as Australia, Argentina, or South Africa. The refuge is located in the Passo Gardena area, at 2220 meters above sea level, reachable by cable car.

Rifugio Jimmy – Località passo Gardena, Colfosco di Corvara (BZ) - 0471 836776

Rifugio Emilio Comici – Val Gardena

Since its inauguration back in 1955, the Marzola family has found its winning formula for activating guests' happiness circuits. In this perennially on-the-radar Dolomite stopover for the international jet set, everything is finely tuned and operational: food quality, attention to detail, professionalism, and hospitality. And then there's the extraordinary scenery: we're at 2154 meters above sea level beneath the rocky marvel that is the Sassolungo, the iconic mountain of Val Gardena. The panoramic terrace is bustling with activity from late morning onwards for aperitifs accompanied by offerings from the "Bistro and Aperitif" menu, which always include, alongside the preferred glass, a slice of warm bread with smoked fish, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and Cerignola olives, unless opting for heartier options like fried calamari or grilled prawns. By the way, the restaurant's entire cuisine is focused on fresh fish. The wine cellar stands out for its selection of bubbles including Champagne, other classic method sparkling wines – foremost Franciacorta and Trentodoc – and selected labels of Prosecco. Inside, there are three rooms: the two original ones adorned with photo memories of the many illustrious guests who have gathered here, and the more recent panoramic "blue cow" room built in 2013 alongside the futuristic underground bathrooms fit for Instagram. The most direct way to reach Emilio Comici with the lifts starts from the Plan de Gralba parking lot.

Rifugio Emilio Comici – Strada Plan de Gralba 24, Selva di Val Gardena (BZ) - 0471 1930388

Baita Sofie – Val Gardena

Mount Seceda perfectly embodies the concept of a "natural terrace," and from its summit, Val Gardena reveals all its beauty, crowned by a breathtaking procession of mountains. Among the various mountain huts dotting the snowy heights, one stands out, led with love by the Prinoth family for three generations. It all began with Grandma Sofie, who, passionate about cooking, started preparing delicious dishes for tourists in the 1960s. What was once a simple wooden hut has, with various expansion interventions, become a place of refreshment keeping up with the times while preserving the ancient charm of alpine retreats in its environments and enhancing the panorama with large windows (especially in the newer and more modern room, with its open kitchen) and with the spacious outdoor area facing the Dolomite peaks, kissed by the sun all day long. A visit to the underground cellar is a must, where a significant part of the rich international collection of fine bottles (around 1100 labels) is showcased and offered for tasting, also available in large formats and with an excellent depth of vintages. Finding the right pairings with the cuisine (a mix of Tyrolean and Mediterranean recipes, including fish) is not a problem here thanks to the advice of Markus, the owner, and his son David, young but already truly knowledgeable and skilled. Baita Sofie is located at 2410 meters above sea level and can be reached by cable car from Ortisei: the upper station is 200 meters away.

Baita Sofie - Strada Mastle 64, Santa Cristina di Val Gardena (BZ) - 335 5271240

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