The 275 Years of Oste Scuro - Finsterwirt Restaurant in Brixen (South Tyrol), Italy

Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt Restaurant, a celebrated restaurant in Brixen / Bressanone for its excellent kitchen, has an interesting history to tell. The restaurant is housed in a two-storey building that was built in the 13th century making it as one of the oldest structures in the town of Brixen. Historically, it served as the residence of the religious canons of the cathedral.

When 1743 arrived, it was no longer used as a dwelling and it became a tavern where the Zehentwein is consumed. Zehentwein is the duty wine that the peasants give them as payment for the taxes. As a regulation, the tavern should close at dusk wherein wines are not to be served anymore and no lights can be turned on in order not to disturb the nocturnal rest of the provosts of the cathedral. However, this rule was not respected as people continued to drink in the dark halls of the building. For this reason, the tavern bore the name Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt which means dark host.

In the late 19th century, Anton Mayr bought the Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt after it changed ownership the previous century when the cathedral sold it. He continued the activities of the tavern on the second floor and turned the ground floor into a carpentry shop.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Anton Mayr's son, Anton, who bore the same name as his father, took over the business. Under his management, the tavern immediately faced an incredible success both inside the town and from afar due to his strong sense of the art culture. He founded the Brixen Museum and expressed his passion in the tavern by making it a Künstlerstübele (artists' lounge). Members of the royal families, renowned artists, scholars, scientists and researchers from different parts of Europe poured in to the doors of Künstlerstübele. From then on, Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt became an institution.

In 1970, Hermann Mayr, Anton Mayr's great grandnephew and present proprietor, took over the family business and has perpetuated the traditions that Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt has become known for. However, with keen attention to modern trends and changes, he and his family incorporated the old traditions with the demands of the new generation. The antique wood wall panels, original paintings, decors and glass windows were left untouched. The restaurant keeps a historical ambience in the different stube rooms on the second floor while the traditional South Tyrolean dishes are expressed with an integration of contemporary aspects.

The kitchen of Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt which is driven by Chef Hubert Ploner after Hermann Mayr handed it over to him in 2016, expresses the traditional South Tyrolean dishes with an integration of the distinctive aspects of innovative cooking. The kitchen philosophy remains unchanged over the years: fresh and seasonal regional organic ingredients sourced from the farmers and producers are utilized in the kitchen. Prior to Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt, Hubert Ploner worked in well-known restaurants alongside celebrated chefs like Heinz Winkler, Parkhotel Hilton, Königshof in Munich, Talvo and Kronenhof in St. Moritz, as well as Castel in Tirolo.
Photo from Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt
The entries in the menu are seasonal, based on the ingredients sourced during the right period. Fish, meat and vegetable dishes are available. Tasting menus are available between 3 courses (€43), 4 courses (€53), and 5 courses (€62).

With a selection of 400 wine labels from the region and elsewhere to accompany the dishes with and courteous service, a full South Tyrolean gourmet meal can be quite an experience. Because of its exquisite cuisine, as well as the interesting history, Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt continues to receive notable guests just like it did centuries ago. 

Oste Scuro / Finsterwirt Restaurant

Vicolo del Duomo, 3
39042 Brixen / Bressanone (BZ), Italy
Tel: +39 0472 835343
Open daily for lunch and dinner except Sunday evenings and Mondays