Ristorante Alle Vecchie Carceri
33038 San Daniele del Friuli, Province of Udine, Italy
Elegant Dining in an Old PrisonInside Ristorante Alle Vecchie Carceri, the simple yet sophisticated décor—white damask linens and emerald green accents—belies the building’s history as an old Austrian prison. While the menu is full of traditional Friulian dishes, Chef Ugo Durigon has elevated this normally rustic cuisine to a more refined and elegant level. Guests receive a complimentary appetizer consisting of a small mound of polenta topped by two wafers of frico (Montasio cheese crisps), a pile of smoked ricotta cheese, and a sprinkling of poppy seeds. The bread basket overflows with varied and interesting creations: soft rosemary rolls, a whole wheat twist with walnuts and currants, an herb roll flecked with green, and thick homemade grissini. Their cjalsòns are one of the best versions in all of Friuli—round and plump ravioli, shaped rather like a flying saucer, filled with mashed potatoes, caramelized onion, and raisins. They are served in a generous pool of melted butter and topped with cinnamon, sugar, and smoked ricotta. Cinnamon sticks and piles of raisins garnish the plate. For dessert, I recommend the sformato al cioccolato, a mini chocolate cake with a molten center, served with two thin wafer cookies, a dollop of whipped cream, a sauce of bitter pink grapefruit peel, some red currants, and a dusting of cocoa and powdered sugar. Like all the restaurant’s presentations, this plate is as artfully designed as it is delicious.