Dining whilst skiing is hit and miss – mountain restaurants worth merit are often hard to come by with many milking the tourist trade. However, many of the rifugios (huts) lining the pistes of Cortina d’Ampezzo offer some truly exceptional Northern Italian cuisine, allowing you to indulge in the afternoon sunshine in your grubby ski clothes!
Much has been written about Baita Piè Tofana in travel guides and blogs and its modern take on mountain cuisine is highly regarded. Situated at Rumerlo the restaurant is easily accessed by car or from the slopes.
Baita Piè Tofana is exceptional. Eating there twice during our stay confirmed the food was not only the best in the mountains but perhaps the best in Cortina. Service was friendly and professional and the atmosphere sublime – nothing quite compares to enjoying elegant cuisine at the side of a mountain, basking in the sunshine in your bulky ski clothes. Be sure to sit on the terrace outside: if it does start to get a little chilly waiters are quickly dispatched with blankets and patio heaters.
Little fault could be picked with any of the food. A special of Scallops was no exception. Simply baked in the shell with a little rosemary and panko breadcrumbs, the crunchy breadcrumbs were a great counterpoint to the soft scallop and a hint of crisp rosemary lurking at the bottom of each shell was an aromatic wonder.
Foie Gras terrine was served with a crunchy but not too sweet walnut and caramelised pear salad and brioche-like bread which tasted exactly like monster munch (much more delicious than it sounds). Rich and comforting – perfect for undoing all that good skiing exercise!
Homemade ravioli of oxtail with caramelised onions is one of the most glorious things I have ever eaten. Perfectly thin pasta surrounding sticky, sweet braised oxtail capped off with caramelised onions which were neither too sweet nor bitter. This was the food I had come to Italy to experience.
The local speciality is beetroot ravioli and various variations can be found at the majority of restaurants in town. At Baita Piè Tofana the sweet, earthy morsels bathed in a poppy seed and butter sauce finished with parmesan and black pepper. The poppy seeds and parmesan stopping the ravioli from being overly sweet.
Ordering rabbit was met with responses of “rodger…rodger the rabbit” from the waiters – thankfully this did not put me off. Leg rolled and stuffed with liver was tender with the liver irony fresh. Roasted rack and foreleg was equally as soft and the accompanying sauce gamey and sweet. Served with some of the most butter laden mash I have eaten, this was a delicious plate.
Fillet steak with speck was perfectly cooked with a nice charred exterior, the speck not too salty or overpowering as can often be the case.
Suckling pig loin, with a strong porky flavour was served with beautifully crisp roast potatoes and fried red onions. Osso Bucco with saffron risotto was very good – a huge chunk of veal shin braised so long its fibres were strewn throughout the rich sauce.
Dessert of ginger ice cream in an amazingly thin basket with dried crisps of fruit may have been too fiery for some, but was a soothing accompaniment to the baking afternoon sun.
Mousse of passionfruit and raspberry was ridiculously light, the lightest mousse imaginable. Served in a tall martini glass, the sharpness of passionfruit and raspberry was curtailed by a sweet yogurty top layer.
Chocolate fondue was the ultimate finish to a decadent lunch – the fresh fruit making me feel slightly less guilty about the three rich preceding courses!
Baita Piè Tofana is the ultimate mountain restaurant. Beautiful food in comforting surroundings which succeed in making you feel warm and welcome – I only wish this level of cooking adorned the side of every piste!
Baita Piè Tofana, Cortina d’Ampezzo
Food (For Four): €200
Dress Code: Casual
Reservations: Recommended, Essential during Peak Season