Ristorante da Anita in San Martino di Castrozza, Italy was like coming home. Very few restaurants match the quality and warmth of this small mountain-side retreat.
Rise Rating: 93%
The Obsidian Rise diagram above provides a visual for the rating explained in writing, below. From left to right—
Story (3/3): Anita used to run an eatery not too far away that was good enough to be remembered by those who haven’t seen her in decades. Now at the Ristorante, she’s accompanied by her son and daughter, who assist in managing the kitchen and the dining rooms, respectively, every single day. With large smiles and their full attention, they scurry from room to room, making sure that everyone is happy and that no tastes of the latest special dish have been missed. And these, too, each have a story— whether on display are the mushrooms that were just found in the forest or the butter that comes from local (grass-fed, obviously) cows. The establishment itself lies within an old stone barn that was purchased and restored as of 2012 so that they could have more space to play with: a small greenhouse, over a handful of amazing bedrooms upstairs, and a spa in the works. More information about the establishment can be found here.
Sustainability (3/3): Ristorante da Anita sits inside a previously existing structure next to an even more historic and now derelict latteria, where fresh milk was once sold. Although the restaurant was recently remodeled, it is clear that traditional furniture was retained and that the new bedrooms upstairs have been made with efficient glass and Alpine woods, whose fresh smell is still so good that it’s incredible. Outside, Anita and her family keep a small garden and greenhouse for growing their own vegetables and herbs. Everything else is sourced as locally or regionally as possible. It is also worth noting the human component of Sustainability here, as the family based nature of this business insinuates that it will continue to operate for a long time, also as evidenced by Anita’s young grandchildren coming by for visits during the day.
Experience (2/3): The Experience at Anita’s is such that you wouldn’t want to leave. Let’s picture for a moment the whole scenario: unless you’re a local (and there aren’t too many of them), you’ve spent quite a lot of time getting to the base of the Dolomites in the first place. Perhaps you’ve taken a car and driven for several hours to get to San Martino, which is a centuries-old village set at an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet. Then, you’ve gone through all of San Martino to the top of the village itself and Ristorante da Anita is in effect the last restaurant in town, surrounded by mountains on three sides and flanked by a large meadow. Cows graze in this pasture. Sporty people are constantly passing by on their way up to the trails. The air is crisp and clean and it feels darn good even just to have arrived. Then, the chalet is charming— renovated but also filled with relics from years past— an old poster here, some family photos there. Anita’s daughter, a sunny woman in her thirties or forties, is almost always in traditional garb and seems to wear a different dirndl every day. When sitting down to a meal and customers are abundant, keep in mind that there may be a wait or some confusion (especially during summer or winter holidays). All in all, the Experience recalls having been invited to a large family get together as a more distant relative, where the feelings are comfortable yet everyone is still on best behavior. And luckily, if you’ve planned in advance to more fully absorb the scenery, the guest rooms upstairs could not be a better place to slow down for awhile longer.
Cuisine (3/3): The food at Ristorante da Anita is just right. The menu has a mix of classics from the Trentino-Alto Adige area, house specialties and daily dishes. The first courses (usually of the pasta variety) are equally as strong as the second courses (traditionally, a meat or another protein-based dish). The majority of items are local and seasonal. They’re also cooked to perfection every time, and prepared with aesthetics in mind, although the need for creativity seems to come after the wish to relay something delicious. Portions are right. Desserts are also all made in-house, and most of the wines for pairing are regional. Altogether, dinner at Anita’s is simultaneously comforting and inspiring— to relax, to live well and to enjoy.
If you choose to spend the night, breakfast is more simple but as amazing, as the daily-made pastries are as close to perfect as it gets in consistency and flavor. The yogurt, butter and cheeses are all local and from proverbially happy cows— same for the cold cuts. Gathered berries give the necessary dose of health, and homemade preserves seem to accompany everything well.
Diversity (3/3): If a small, mountain town establishment like da Anita’s manages to have workplace diversity, then there are really no excuses. The wait staff was diverse in age, gender, race and provenance, but seemed to enjoy its own company during and also after hours, where we smiled when spotting a few girls going to town together during a midday break. The service was humble and obsequious not only to us, but also amongst itself. Ownership is again family-based, with Anita at the core and her children (one male, one female) equally helping to run the show. And, as described above, Diversity in dishes was also present, as one can easily tailor a meal according to needs and preferences.
For more information regarding this rating methodology, please click here.