6 February 2024

Orsone: an USA-like atmosphere among the hills of Collio

A new menu, a thought-after location and two young people at the helm!

Many of you will already be familiar with Orsone, born a few years ago on Joe Bastianich's property. If you need a quick refresher or if you just want to know more about it, here is the article I wrote about it back in far, yet not so far, 2017. At the time, the title spoke by itself, calling it The Home of Joe and Lidia Bastianich: I told you about their gourmet cuisine, the beauty of the surroundings, and the good food I had enjoyed.

Well, in six years everything can change, especially if a pandemic and other ups and downs of various kinds get in the way.

So, let's leave the past behind and turn the page, taking a small step back to a year and a half ago when, after three years of being closed, the restaurant reopened its doors: this time two young men took the reins (with quite a bit of courage, might I add), Luca (now chef) and Michele, the latter a very good innkeeper who juggles between the dining room and the counter.

Far be it from me to bore you by rattling off all their past experiences in the restaurant business, including starred restaurants and training periods that crossed national borders! No, none of that. I just want to convey to you their passion and tenacity: I want to mention the courage I was talking about before: they rolled up their sleeves and started anew. Luca and Michele, indeed, fell in love with this place and decided to make it their own, renewing a somewhat dusty menu and redesigning it on the tones of overseas cuisine... and not only that!

In fact, here you can enjoy excellent burgers prepared with succulent meat, homemade brioche buns and delicious dips: from the huge window in the dining room overlooking the kitchen, you’ll have the honor of peaking at Luca and his trusty helper. I'm talking about the Josper, of course, which welcomes among its searing coals excellent cuts of international kinds of meat, ranging from America to Japan!

The décor is typical of an American eatery: warm, dark-wood tones, leather seating and the lovely fireplace at the end of the room that flies the American flag. If you pass by these days the twinkling of the wonderful Christmas tree will make the space even cozier, perfect to enjoy a warm cognac. Amazing!

There, now it feels like I’m hearing the usual chorus (not a Christmas one, alas!): What’s on the menu? Let's get started: fried polenta, lard, mayonnaise and burnt onion, grissinone (a big breadstick) with San Daniele prosciutto, fried chicken strips with peanut butter sauce, a tigella (a kind of small bread) with pumpkin in saor (a local, sweet-and-sour way to marinate food), with breaded cardoncelli mushrooms paired with a ribolla gialla sauce closing the appetizers, which, as you will understand, also embrace the typical flavors of this land!

In need for vegetarian suggestions? No prob. Try the Don Cello burger, with breaded cardoncelli mushrooms, mushroom mayonnaise, valerian, and smoked provolone cheese.

Don't you worry. We don't restrain ourselves to appetizers only (which range from 4 to 9 euros): we open the Josper and taste their meat selection together. We start, however, by cooking a succulent goodness at the table, a Wagyulem A5-cube roll (the ultimate marbling stage): it’s an amazing idea to let the customer have the freedom to cook it on the griddle...! Next, an American Black Angus diaphragm paired with some greens cooked (of course) on the Josper. And what about the succulent, tender, and flavorful American Black Angus rib-eye steak.

For dessert, we couldn’t miss out on the American flavors: the NY cheesecake, served either with salted caramel and peanuts or with a raspberry sauce, and fresh and dehydrated raspberries! I decided to worthily pair it with a local wine, a 2020 Sturm Merlot.

The options on the wine list are many, and not only Bastianich-signed (who, by the way, owns the winery across the street... bear with me for a moment and I'll take you there!): if you’re a beer lover, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Now tell me, doesn't this location seem perfect for nice corporate or birthday dinners? Surely no one could complain about any hustle and bustle, being nestled among the hills!

If after a rich dinner you realize you've had a little too much to drink – well, no problem! Upstairs you will find the Orsone rooms, where I guarantee you’ll get a really good night's sleep.

And waking up was no less than a feast: here, among the rows of vines, I had a queen's breakfast... and for a moment I felt like I was in the USA! A bevy of muffins, pancakes, eggs and bacon, coffee, fruit, yogurt, and a thousand other delicacies.

But let’s get back to us: what I promise, I keep. So, let's visit the winery and taste some good wines. A Vespa opens the dances; many of you are familiar with it, I believe. It’s a blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Picolit, which undergo separate vinification processes, part in steel and part in wood, plus is aged for twelve months once it’s in the bottle.

We went on with a Friulano from a seventy-five-year-old vineyard in Buttrio, where three harvests are made: the first with homogeneous part of the product, the second a few days apart, in over-ripening, and the third when (and if) noble rot attacks the product.

But let's move on to the reds with the Vespa, a blend of Merlot, Refosco and Schioppettino vinified separately eighteen months in French oak barriques and two and a half years of bottle aging. To conclude, the Calabrone (I confess, this is the one I enjoyed the most), a wine made mainly from Refosco grape, with a small percentage of Merlot and Schioppettino, with a twenty of Refosco aging, twenty-four months of French oak barrique and two years of bottle aging.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this experience a lot! I surrounded myself with a star-studded atmosphere in the middle of Collio; I savored delicious meats and sipped equally delicious wines; I slept among the vines and woke up to a very rich breakfast (I think the most substantial ever).

What did you say? Yes, I know, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. Next stop? Who knows.

Have I raised your interest?

Until the next food and wine adventure!

Photo Michele Grimaz

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