Travel Series: Cividale del Friuli, Italy, Orsone Ristorante B&B

Orsone Ristorante B&B
Address: Via Darnazzacco, 63, Fraz. Gagliano, Cividale del Friuli UD, Italy
Phone:+39 0432 732053

Orsone Ristorante

We planned a trip down to Italy while we were staying in Klagenfurt because I had never been to Italy before and also because I knew about Joe Bastianich’s restaurant in Friuli, which is run by Executive Chef Eduardo Valle Lobo and Executive Sous Chef Kelly Jeun, who I knew from my few months working at Del Posto for my externship at the CIA. It was less than a three hour drive south of Klagenfurt, and located right by the Bastianich vineyards.

It was a magnificently beautiful spring day and the location of this restaurant was beautiful. I saw a familiar face working as the General Manager, and it was surreal to see Eduardo and Kelly in a different setting. The restaurant has a casual area in the front, and the more fine dining section is at the back (kind of like Gramercy Tavern).

The formal dining area- not very busy since it was a weekday lunch
The amuse bouche consisted of crispy salami with onion jam, crispy rice cracker with trout tartare and katsuobushi mousse with yuzu gelee. Lots of umami here!
This looks super simple but it was one of my favorite things. Herring mousse with a scallion foam.

We were certainly lucky to be in the hands of Chefs Eduardo and Kelly, who cooked up an impressive tasting menu for our lunch. Already at this point, I knew that the food here was already much better than 1-2 Michelin Starred restaurants in New York City. Eduardo is from Spain so he brings with him a respect for the ingredients, and they obviously had sourced excellent products. The food definitely was not what you would expect to eat in the countryside of Italy, but you can experience a unique collaboration between two chefs with impressive resumes. We opted for the wine pairing and tasted some very interesting wines (with some Bastianich wines of course).

Rejoice the start of white asparagus season! Served with Sicilian sweet prawns and topped with a guanciale sauce. Great marriage between the guanciale and sweetness of the prawns. This was paired with a local wine: a maccerated Pinot Grigio, which was a great choice.

This is a kind of dish that is lacking in the fine dining scene in New York City, where chefs feel like they need to be overly complex with flavors and components. Of course, there are a few fine dining New York restaurants that do simple food really well, like Blanca, and I think more chefs need to realize that complexity is not necessarily what makes food good. Even if you have only a few components, as long as you choose quality ingredients, balance the flavors instead of masking each ingredient over the other, and execute the cooking methods with precision, your customers will really enjoy it ( I will get more into this in another post).

This garganelli was crazy good and very representative of Chef Eduardo since it is a play on a traditional Spanish dish, Pil Pil. The texture was so divine (smooth and soft) and the funky, almost fava bean-like taste of the peas went so well with the salty bacalao. This was paired with a white blend- Lalinda from La Tunella.


Beef cheek agnolotti with smoked ricotta mousse, orange and fennel. Another pasta dish with greatly balanced flavors and beautiful texture.
Ring shaped pasta (can’t remember the name!) with fava beans and truffles (and really good butter). The pasta they make here is so silky and nice.

We were presented with this 6kg wild turbot at the beginning of lunch, It was cooked to perfection in a wood fire oven and served with a parsnip sauce and uni sauce. Paired with a local pinot noir.

Dessert was an orange shortbread type cake with an orange sorbet. Loved it because the texture of the cake was nice and moist and it was overall not such a sweet dessert. Perfect ending to an outstanding lunch at Orsone.

It’s been 8 months since we had this lunch at Orsone (need to start blogging more often!) but it’s a great sign that I remember a lot of this experience 🙂 Thank you for a super memorable lunch, Eduardo and Kelly!

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