Cortina d'Ampezzo is a sleepy town nestled in the Italian Alps with incredible skiing, entertainment and food. Read on to learn about the best places to eat and drink in Cortina!
Hello, friends! Happy hump day! I hope you are all having a fabulous week and enjoying the swathes of Michael Bublé music that have inundated us from every angle. That’s right, Christmas time is here and with it, Christmas baking! I promise I’ll have some delicious new holiday recipes up for you soon, but if you can’t wait that long, how about these?
- Chocolate Peppermint Macarons
- Fudgy Chocolate Truffles (Vegan & GF)
- Pumpkin Cake Roll with Amaretto Eggnog Filling
Anyway, unless this is your first time reading Scones (in which case hello!!! So happy to have you!!), you’ll know that I recently returned from a trip to Italy. I’ve covered all the things we ate in Venice, and today I’ll be sharing our experiences from the lovely village of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Cortina is a small town in the Alps that ranks among the top 10 ski destinations in Europe, and for good reason. Situated in the Dolomites region, the slopes are huge and plentiful, and the town itself is adorable. Their food is Italian, their architecture is Swiss, and their charm transcends cultures.
Cortina was relatively deserted while we were there, as their ski season starts on November 30, but we were still able to experience a good amount of the culture - as well as a day of powder! Cortina is about a 3-hour drive from Venice, so the 8 of us picked up a Volkswagen van from the Venice airport, somehow crammed in our luggage and our bodies, and headed north. After a terrifying and winding drive and a stop at the sketchiest mall I’ve ever encountered, we finally arrived - only to find that our house was locked. Candice and I looked at each other, silently connected, then set off up the street in search of a bar.
1/4 mile later we found ourselves inside La Scaletta, a small cash-only bar/café/restaurant that would become our home base over the next few days. We were presented with a bowl of potato chips (served before a meal at many restaurants and bars we went to in Italy) and placed our order for two glasses of prosecco. Between their access to wifi (a valuable commodity), 2.50 prosecco, and killer 90s soundtrack, we never wanted to leave!
After our 3rd glass of prosecco each, our stomachs were growling. We headed to the (now-open) house, unpacked, and headed out with Austin and Cole to…
Hacker Pschorr Haus
We had originally intended to go to Ristorante Pontejel, which was highly rated on TripAdvisor, but it - like many other restaurants in Cortina - was closed. We were starving, so we headed into the next place we saw - Hacker Schorr Haus. We were greeted once again by a bowl of potato chips, and Candice and I immediately ordered a 10-euro litre of red wine. Hellooooo, Cortina!
For our meals, Austin got the buffalo wings, Cole ordered a hamburger, I got a caprese salad, and Candice ordered grilled cheese and polenta. Austin, Cole and I were very satisfied - but unfortunately Candice’s meal ended up being more like a slice of cheap cheese microwaved on top of potato bread served alongside soggy fried polenta. All the more reason to drink! And drink we did, taking our time over a long conversation before settling up our tabs and heading home.
The next morning, Candice’s dad and Dana whipped up eggs, speck, and bread with cheese as a quick breakfast before we headed out on a hike in the Dolomites. I wasn’t super hungry so I opted for one of the most delicious pears I’ve ever had - seriously, so good! After we got dressed, we headed on a drive up the mountain.
The view in the Dolomites was absolutely incredible - it looked unreal! We hiked at a few different trail heads, met a German Shepherd, and Austin almost broke his toe jumping off a rock. Good times.
La Scaletta (again)
We drove around for a while looking for a restaurant for lunch before finally concluding that everything was closed and heading back into town. We dropped the car off in the house, then Austin, Cole, Candice and I headed over to La Scaletta for prosecco and pumpkin soup (AMAZING). I also had a caprese salad (obsessed) while Candice and Austin had really good sandwiches. The whole bill was so cheap - I can’t praise La Scaletta enough.
When the boys headed home to relax/rest Austin’s toe/hide his injury from worrying adults, Candice and I decided to stay a bit longer for hot chocolates. I walked up the counter and ordered two hot chocolates from our bartender - one hazelnut, one coconut. What I received was one order of warm, rich hazelnut-coconut pudding. Um, what?! I could deal with this. I asked for another spoon and received a crown of fresh whipped cream on top of the pudding. It may have taken me about 6 tries to actually get a second spoon, but this was a language barrier we could deal with. And, for only 2 euro, that chocolate pudding was one of the best things we had all trip.
That night, Candice and I had cocooned ourselves in our room with a litany of Christmas-themed Hallmark movies, and we were surprised when we emerged from our rooms and found that everyone else had gone to dinner without us. No matter - we opened a bottle of red wine, pranced around in our new Venice heels, then decided to go out in Cortina!
Our first stop was at a place called Bar Osteria, where we each ordered a glass of red wine (2.50 here too!! Ugh, I miss this place already, and I’m currently drinking for free on the plane). The bar was packed with locals so we grabbed seats along the wall, and the bartender brought out snacks for us - tortilla chips and bread topped with sliced ham. I’m moving.
After we finished our wine and settled up, we headed a block down the way to El Becalen, a similarly crowded locals bar with a younger vibe than Bar Osteria. We each had 3 glasses of prosecco, then took a drunk photo tour of Cortina before heading home to watch one more Hallmark movie and fall asleep.
The next day - Thanksgiving - began with some pan-fried speck and these incredible Cranberry Almond scones. After we were well-sated, we made our way to the local co-op (or as Candice’s mom calls it, the ‘Super Target’) for some shopping. Candice’s mom was raving about the gnocchi they’d had at dinner the night before (still bitter), so Candice and I headed to Ristorante Ri Stua, right next to our villa.
Ristorante Ra Stua
Ristorante Ri Stua is a cute, fairly nice Italian restaurant located under a hotel. Although the hotel wasn’t yet open for the season, the restaurant seemed to be open around the clock! Candice and I started out by splitting an 18 euro bottle of prosecco and ordered the Pumpkin Gnocchi with Smoked Ricotta and Melted Butter to share. Please read that description again. HELLLLLO, DOLLY.
The gnocchi was everything we had dreamed of and more - exceptionally soft and pillowy, topped with flavorful shaved cheese, and set atop a pool of brown butter that was perfect for dipping the rolls we received as a starter. Neither of us could finish even half the portion. It’s really a toss up between this gnocchi and the hot pudding for best dish of the trip.
We ended up visiting both Ristorante Ri Stua and La Scaletta again the next day for farewell meals, then packed up and headed back to Venice for a quick boat tour and the trip home. Ah, Cortina, you were so amazing. I highly recommend you visit - even if for a day - if you’re ever in the area. La Scaletta will be waiting with open arms and 2.50 prosecco!