I have had some wonderful meals at the Ristorante Al Monastero, a restaurant in Cividale del Friuli that serves traditional friulian cuisine. The old-style building was once a fraternity house of the order of Santa Maria dei Battuti (a secular medieval order sworn to offer aid and assistance in the form of hospice, shelter and counseling to those “afflicted” = battuti) and some references to this history remain in the exisiting structure.
The restaurant is divided into different dining areas, the main wood-paneled dining room, the more intimate “fogolar” (open fireplace) room and the outdoor patio. While at first glance it looks a little “tourist trap”-y, given the overwrought decor with murals of baccanalian excesses and the multi-lingual menu, let me assure you that is is well worth stopping in for a meal. The delicious food and the attentive service will win you over. Moreover, it is one of the few places left in the region that still has several precious murals by beloved local näif artist, Jacun Pitôr . Pitor was an eccentric who wandered around the region in the late 1800s early 1900s painting in chapels, farmhouses and manors in exchange for food and hospitality. His artwork faithfully depicts the popular culture of the region often highlighting his sense of humor with typical friulian sayings both sacred and sometimes profane. At that time, he painted here, the restaurant was called La Speranza and was popular with the locals and hunting parties.
The Monastero is also a B&B with 5 well-appointed apartments available to visitors who are passing through or attending the several festivals hosted in Cividale, most famously, MITTLEFEST – a multi-ethnic, cross-cultural event which usually features big name artists, singers and performance pieces.
Al Monastero prides itself on maintaining and elevating local fare, using seasonal and local ingredients. Among the more acclaimed dishes served here are:
The seasonal tortino (a savory flan), the strudel made with local Montasio cheese, ham and apples, and the Osvaldo ham (unique to this region) which is brilliantly paired with a spicy red pepper and melon sorbet.
Pasta selections include the Cialcions del Monastero a sort of a half-moon ravioli stuffed with spinach served in a butter sauce with smoked ricotta cheese, pine nuts and raisins or the Maltagliati with an exquisite duck ragu’.
If you still have room, their main courses are hearty meat dishes featuring lamb, beef, poultry and an occasional fish dish. Their tournedos of beef in red wine with a ricotta tart is a favorite.
Desserts are varied; from fruit, to decadent chocolate lava cake, to traditional friulian Gubana cake soaked in Slikowitz (a local plum liqueur).
Al Monastero has a vast selection of local wines and spirits to accompany you througout the meal.
Open Tues – Sat 12-14 and 19-22 Sun 12-14 and Closed Mondays
Via Adelaide Ristori, 9, 33043 Cividale del Friuli UD
Tel +39/0432 700808