With over 1,200 kilometers of ski slopes connecting 12 valleys via a network of 450 lift facilities and 475 runs, no matter where you run your skis or board in the Italian Dolomites you’re just a fork’s distance away from countless small, medium and large-sized baite/hütten/rifugi (chalets).
Here, you can grab a quick, savory bite or drink then head right back out on the slopes; or, like me, take all the time you want around the table or at an après-ski bar after the final run, or both. Hey, you’re on a ski vacation in Italy, so WHAT’S THE RUSH?
These rest stops in the snow serve up some pretty fantastic regional and fusion dishes. The menus are vast, and not just sausage-and-taters, as you might expect.
You may be a skier/boarder looking to take a load off (or is it on?), but the kitchen, bar and wait staffs at these high-altitude oases double-time it constantly and have your thirst quenchers and mouth-watering dishes at the table quicker than you can say, “Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän,” (the longest word in the German language that means, “Danube steamship company captain”).
Here’s a short list of places where you can eat and drink that The Palladian Traveler has sampled and highly recommends.
Baite-Hütte Raut (t. +39 347-5351004) — Sitting right alongside the Pista Raut, the long and challenging black-marked run, you can arrive on skis/boards, or just take the chairlift near the base on the Versciaco side of Elmo, hop off and walk right in.
Warm and inviting inside, or picturesque outside with a panoramic view of Val Pusteria down to San Candido, proprietor Manfred “Manny” Moser and staff in this two-story challet prepare their killer barbeque chicken wings in a secret sauce that are just the best found outside of North America.
Along with the wings, you’ll find an array of mouth-watering Tyrollean dishes. Top your lunch break off with a custom-drawn caffè followed by a shot of Pere Williams.
One more thing. Take a whack at driving a nail into the tree stump inside, but beware: if you miss hitting the nail on the head, with the hollowed out hammer, you’ll have to buy a round for everyone in the house.
Rifugio Gallo Cedrone-Hahnspielhütte (t. +39 340-2334546 or 340-3934231) — Perched at the very, very top of Monte Elmo — where the views, at 2,150 mt., of the Sesto/Sexten section of the Dolomites is just spectacular — you’ve come to right place to park your skis/board and unbuckle the boots.
Small in size, but big with their portions, you can enjoy the rustic, wood-paneled ambiance inside, or take a table with a view outside. Either way, your thirst and hunger will be well taken care of with a lengthy menu of hearty dishes bearing their signature Austro-Hungarian roots, like: canederli in broth (bread dumplings), spätzle (small egg noodles) gulasch (thick soup/stew) and speck (smoked prosciutto/ham).
It’s best to call ahead to be sure they’ll be a table ready or just a short wait. And, be aware of the step leading to the restrooms in the back — it’s a doozie!
KRONPLATZ/PLAN de CORONES:
Lorenzihütte (Ski runs #22 or #23, ski-lifts Lorenzi and Arndt, t. +39 474-592100) — Sitting midway up the mammoth ski area in the Olang-Valdaora, Lorenzihütte is a real jewel of alpine ambience. Centuries old, this landmark chalet has been expanded upon, but serves meals in a series of small, intimate rustic alcoves or outside on its spacious terrace with camera-redy views of the valley below.
You can close your eyes and take your pick off the multi-page, multilingual menu without a worry because EVERYTHING is mouth-watering good.
Before sitting down, you might want to hang at the bar first and enjoy a Hugo — the house’s specialty aperitif of Sambuco syrup, Prosecco, seltzer water, ice and fresh mint leaves. Prosit!
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