Friuli – Maniago – a slap up feed with an old friend

Maniago (Manià in Friulian) is a small town, with a population of around 12,000 inhabitants, in the province of Friuli, at the foot of the Dolomite mountains. Maniago is the adopted home of my old friend Barbara whom I last saw in her hometown Trieste back in 2013 (my post here). I came for a visit on a day trip from Treviso in early November 2020, just a few weeks before the second Covid lockdown.

After picking me up at the station with her son Antonio, Angela treated me to a wonderful lunch at Ristorante Antica Taverna, the best restaurant in town, where she works as the communications manager, alongside her partner Francesco who is front of house.

The restaurant is located in the beautiful Palazzo d’Attimis-Maniago, the former residence of the Lords of Maniago since the 16th century, although the current form of the building dates from the early 1700s. The recently restored Baroque rooms feature beautiful stucco work, wall murals and Murano chandeliers. The palace is located in an eight-hectare park, including a lovely Italian garden, which makes it eminently suitable for its new role as a hotel for hosting conferences and weddings. Video here.

After a welcome cicheto of a Lardo Crostini and a glass of Prosecco, I started with the San Daniele con Focaccina e Verdurine all Agro (cured ham with focaccia, cheese and pickles). Prosecco and San Daniele are both local towns only a short distance away from Maniago. My Verona map here. The name San Daniele is synonymous with the production of cured prosciutto ham which, in my humble opinion, is preferrable to that of its more famous competitor Parma. In comparison San Daniele ham is slightly sweeter and less salty whereas Parma has an earthier flavour.

For my first course I really enjoyed the Cjarsons di Mele Antiche e Pitina, Ricotta Salata, Burro Nocciola. Cjarsons (love the spelling, the j is silent in pronunciation) are a local ravioli, accompanied here by slices of fresh apple, pitina, aged ricotta, and hazlenut butter. Pitina is a kind of Frulian meatball made of smoked goat or chamois meat.

We had locally produced wines with each course, first a 2019 Pinot Nero called Confinis by Francesco Rotolo and later a 2018 Merlot by Sancin, both very good.

For my main course I went for the Medaglioni di Cervo Bardati al Guanicale, Zucca Essicata; medallions of venison served with pork cheek, dessicated pumpkin, purple potato puree and a fruit reduction. This was a delicious combination of local, seasonal ingredients given a modern presentation. Very enjoyable indeed.

And to finish the restaurant’s wonderful Fiore di Latte Gelato; homemade cow’s milk mozzarella ice cream, which Francesco served from a milk churn and drizzled with hot chocolate sauce. So good!

Finally, a snifter of Diplomatico Reserva, an aged Venezuelan rum (a personal favourite), and a Caffè Macchiato conspired to create the perfect ending.

So pretty much a perfect meal, served in beautiful surroundings with great company. Many thanks to Angela, Francesco and Antonio for their fantastic Frulian hospitality! I hope it’s not too long till the next time we sit down together again.

Next I’m in Novara, over in Piedmont…

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