Behind the Mercato Vecchio, in the heart of Udine, Vitello d'Oro is the oldest restaurant in the city, with an intimate summer déhor, where you can enjoy an extraordinary gourmet experience that interprets the best Friulian tradition with contemporary genius.
Vitello d’Oro, which today has become an essential gastronomic destination, has a very ancient history, from which its name also derives, probably a tribute to the biblical idol symbol of prosperity and abundance. Its name never changed over time despite being the first and, at that time, also the only fish restaurant in Udine.
The first evidence dates back to 1849 when the name “Trattore al Vitello d’Oro” appears in the newspaper Il Friuli with an ante litteram review: “it offers, to say one, a lunch made up of boiled meat, cheese and fruit, in the best way and with all promptness and cleanliness.” Today, the restaurant is masterfully managed by the brothers Massimiliano and Gianluca Sabinot, respectively chef and maitre d’, who have taken over the family business, giving the restaurant a new international vibe.
We wanted to enrich the city with a place of international standing, while communicating the arrival of a new gourmet course in the history of this restaurant, historically managed by my family.
(Massimiliano Sabinot, chef)
Their dad Antonio Sabinot arrived at the Vitello d’Oro in the early 1960s as a waiter. Within a few months, thanks to his talent, he was invited to join the company as a partner, starting a path of excellence that would lead the restaurant to obtain a Michelin star in the 1980s. In 1898 Antonio bought the property with the aim of leaving his “kingdom” to their children, who were then beginning to take their first steps in this world. In fact, Massimiliano had already begun his career as a chef at the Astoria, alongside Giorgio Busdon, a pupil of Guglielmo Marchesi, and a profound innovator of Friulian cuisine.
The renovation of the restaurant, completed in 2019, was entrusted to the Visual Display studio which gave it a contemporary flavor while enhancing its historical soul, made up of charming details such as the suggestive original wooden beams. The project also involved the best design companies in the area, such as Gervasoni for the lamps, Moroso for the seats, and Livon Arredamenti for the wainscoting.
While on the tables, the wonderful glass works by artist Massimo Lunardon stand out, inspired by playful colorful fish that make smile anyone who looks at them.
Strengthened by the legacy of the two historic chefs from Grado of the Vitello d’Oro, Rigo Pinatti and Giovanni Marchesan, who brought seafood cuisine to Udine in the 1960s, until a few years ago the menu was mainly based on fish. With the new course, Massimiliano and Gianluca have decided to open up their recipes to a more varied raw material, yet always with the same research devoted to absolute quality.
Fresh fish, such as cuttlefish “tiramisu” or linguine with blue shrimp, as well as Friulian flavors revisited with flair and creativity such as duck, musetto, potato gnocchi stuffed with fromadi frant, pumpkin and frico, or the traditional cjarsons, a sort of potato agnolotti. The desserts are also delicious, such as the chocolate cream from Alain Ducasse’s recipe book.
In the dining room, Gianluca takes care of pampering customers, recommending the best wine pairings, personally taking care of the over 200 wine references. In addition to local and national labels, ample space is reserved for champagne, the perfect combo with the dishes prepared by Massimiliano and his brigade, composed of trusted historical figures who have accompanied the Sabinot family for over 15 years.
In the summer, Vitello d’Oro also offers the possibility of having lunch or dinner outdoors thanks to a romantic déhor which, in the center of Udine, is a real rarity.
A wall of the restaurant borders that of the Mercato Vecchio and both buildings rest on the second ancient wall of Udine, dating back to the 14th century and still visible inside the restaurant. The tunnel which leads to the privée was, in fact, a niche carved into the ancient stone wall that can still be seen today on the left.