The Neoteric Alpine Cuisine of Aga Ristorante in San Vito di Cadore, Italy

If you put two extremely talented young chefs in the kitchen, one from the southern part of Italy where Mediterranean seafood cuisine is celebrated while the other one is from the mountainous region where alpine influence is utmost, the result is a surprising innovation of grand ideas, aromas and flavors intertwined in a luscious approach to gastronomy.

Chef Oliver Piras, originally from the Italian island of Sardinia traversed a rather impressive line of culinary experiences in the kitchens of three 3-Michelin starred restaurants of the Cerea Family's Da Vittorio Ristorante in Brusaporto, Chef Norbert Niederkofer's St. Hubertus in the nearby town San Cassiano and Chef Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London. But even at the beginning of his career, his internships had been very significant as he worked at the kitchens of Chef Renè Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen and Roca brothers' El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.

 All four photos from Aga Ristorante

Chef Alessandra Del Favero instead completed her culinary studies in ALMA, one of Italy's best culinary schools in Colorno backed by a long-time experience at her family's restaurant and hotel. And while working at Da Vittorio Ristorante, she crossed paths with Oliver.

The two chefs opened their own restaurant in 2015 in the premises of Alessandra's family's hotel, Hotel Villa Trieste and called it Aga which means water in the local dialect. Located inside the annex of the hotel, you can find the small restaurant with five round tables that can accommodate between 4 to 6 each. When asked if they have any future projects of expansion, the answer an immediate no. They both want the place to remain as is so they can focus more on the quality of the dishes that they are preparing for their guests. Dinner at Aga is indeed like a convivial and intimate dinner among friends wherein both chefs take the dishes to your table and present them personally with the help of their staff.

A cuisine with a strength and personality all its own, both chefs paint their passion into their creations. A vigorous bond with oriental influences, coupled with the influences of the kitchens they grew up with and sealed with their worldly experiences and techniques, the dishes are curved with distinctive fusion of characteristics that are uniquely Aga's. For this reason, just a year after opening, they received their first Michelin star, two forks from the Italian Gambero Rosso and two hats in the Espresso Guide.

The cuisine has determined flavors which gives access to the untrodden path of gastronomy. Dining at Aga stretches your palate into a different height but at the same time, guides you to a different window of gastronomy with harmonious elements. My favorite is the Calamaro di Montagna (Squid of the Mountain) skewered and served on an alpine stone. It is totally reminiscent of grilled squid with the aroma and flavor that it evokes but in reality, it is actually made of egg whites.

The menu is seasonal, based on the fresh ingredients that they find. The appetizers are between €18 to €20, first dishes of pasta are between €22 to €25, the main courses between €35 to €38, and the desserts between €12 to €15. There are two available tasting menus at €75 for five courses with the option of wine pairing of 3 glasses of wine at €25 or 5 glasses of wine at €45. For a larger tasting menu, 8 courses is available at €100 with the option of wine pairing of 5 glasses at €45 and 8 glasses at €65. Please note that prices can always change. For more accurate information, check their site.

Aga Ristorante is located in the small alpine town of San Vito di Cadore which is surrounded by the Dolomite mountains. Summer or winter or whatever season it is, the area is a place to experience. It is open daily except Wednesdays.

Aga Ristorante

Via Trieste, 6

32046 San Vito di Cadore (BL), Italy

Tel: +39 0436 890134