Eat & Drink | Dolomites | By Shivani Vora
Shivani Vora is a lifestyle journalist based in New York City. She has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and is a regular contributor to several prolific publications including CNN, the New York Times, Departures, Cultured and Architectural Digest.
The Dolomite mountains in northern Italy are an outdoor playground. A destination practically designed for adventurers attracted to biking and hiking amid piercing blue lakes, herds of cows, fields blanketed in wildflowers, jagged peaks and so much more.
One of the highlights of an excursion in the Dolomites is lunch at a rifugio (mountain hut). Some offer overnight accommodations for hikers, but all offer incredible meals that refuel you physically and mentally. My guide in the Dolomites, Claudia, was born and brought up in the area. She says that visiting a rifugio is a beloved local tradition.
“We love to head to a rifugio on our time off for the exceptional food and to connect with family and friends,” she says.
Run by families, these restaurants are the epitome of farm-to-table, local and sustainable—the big buzzwords when it comes to today’s food trends. Meat is sourced from animals raised in the surrounding valleys, cheese is produced on nearby farms and produce is all grown within the vicinity.
Do like the locals and savour a long, leisurely meal complete with fantastic wine—a glass or two or maybe even a bottle. Rifugios may be simple, but Claudia says their wine lists are impressive and akin to ones that you would find at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
The Dolomites are home to at least a few hundred rifugios, but a few truly stand out and have a dedicated clientele for their cuisine and hospitality. I compiled my recommendations for must-hit rifugios below with Claudia’s help. They’re among her favourites, and I’ve been lucky enough too try a few too.
Easy to reach by a 30-minute walk or quick bike ride, Rauchhutte on the Alpe di Siusi is famous for its pappardelle with venison ragú. Don’t miss the buchteln, a sweet cake with vanilla sauce and jam. The wine menu offers many selections by the glass.
Set on the hidden valley from Lagazuoi in Alta Badia, the more than half-century-old Scotoni features a huge indoor barbecue, so anything grilled is a great bet. I’m a fan of the Scotoni grilled platter, a combination of assorted meats, vegetables and polenta. The hut also sources its crisp water from an adjacent spring and has a wine list of over 400 labels.
Located in Alta Pusteria on Monte Baranci, Jora is more refined compared to other rifugios and counts Markus Holzer as its executive chef who has worked at some of the top restaurants in the region. The bacon dumplings in beef stock are a house hit, and the pasta is killer. If you’re in the mood to splurge, try the four-course pasta tasting menu.
Jora Mountain Dining
On the Alpe di Siusi, this rifugio is actually a farm that has been owned by the same family for more than 500 years. The menu relies heavily on ingredients that are grown or produced directly onsite. Options are diverse: the soup made of hay, herbs and flowers has a cult following and is served in a bread crock, but the cheeses and shredded sweet pancakes are also mainstays.
Reachable from the town of Corvara and Campolongo Pass, Crep de Munt serves typical stick-to-your-ribs Ladin dishes: think potato fritters, fried ravioli, deer and even deer roe. Try the house-made elder juice, and finish off your feast with the house-made ice-creams and tiramisu.
Ütia Crep de Munt
Feeling inspired to taste your way through the Dolomites? Get in touch with Experience Designer Georgia Yuill to start planning.
B&R Experience Designer Georgia Yuill has been named a Top Travel Specialist 2022 for Italy by Condé Nast Traveler.