One of the main attractions of the Dolomiti ski area is definitely culinary. North Italy does not only boast some of the best ski slopes, it also offers some of the best mountain food found on ski slopes in Europe. And you can stop for a drink or a bite every day of your holiday without emptying your bank account! A cappuccino only sets you back 2,5 euro! Each place has its own style and speciality while they all share very friendly service and great atmosphere. Many boast fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and all of them have outdoor terraces to enjoy the sun. Because there are so many huts, you do not necessarily have to make reservations to find a seat when you crave a pause. Only on very busy weeks, or when the weather suddenly turns bad it can become difficult to find a free spot. We tried most of the huts in the Alta Badia ski area, and some on the Sella Ronda. We enjoyed some places more than others but have never been really disappointed (except maybe once).
Some places are called Utia (huts), others Rifugio or Baïta. Rifugio is a high-elevation lodge where the food is much better than one would expect on the remote side of a mountain high above sea level. It’s imperative to linger on the terrace sipping an icy aperol spritz or downing a hot bombardino gaping at the cliffs and vistas below. The baïta are local personal rifugios turned into public lodges serving great Ladin food with the rustic warmth of a stube in the sky. Ladin is the local culture, held high by the local population. They still speak the Ladin dialect, and they are proud of the local dishes based on butter, cheese, pork and dumplings in a mix of traditional Austrian and Italian kitchen.
When you come up from San Cassiano, you have the spacious ‘Piz Sorega‘ hut at the end of the Piz Sorega lift and the La Fraina lift. It is not the most cosy hut and made to fit large crowds serving mostly fast food. The toilets are free to use, and in the morning it is a good spot to have a wake up coffee.
If you ski back down via the blue slope 11 to San Cassiano you can have an afternoon drink in the sunshine in ‘La Utia‘.
Many take the Biok lift up when starting in the morning. At the end of the lift you find the hut ‘Bioch‘, but a better choice is skiing down slope 7 and have a coffee with a piece of apfelstrudel in the morning sun at hut ‘La Baïta‘. Their daily offer: apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce and a cappuccino for only 5 euro. They also have a ski repair shop in front of the hut if you want your skis sharpened or waxed.
A hut famous for their grilled meat, and especially spare ribs is the hut ‘Punta Trieste‘ at the top of the Pralongia I lift. The hut has a great terrace with beautiful views with sun in the afternoon. It is a very popular stop for a hearty lunch.
One of the popular huts in Alta Badia is ‘Utia Bamby‘. The hut is beautifully decorated on the inside, and they are famous for their high quality lunches. It is located on the connecting slope between La Villa (Piz La Ila) and San Cassiano (Piz Sorega). They boast a terrace that catches the sun in the afternoon.
Also famous: ‘Utia Jimmy‘, on the top of the connecting Plans and Frara lift that takes you up to the Gardena Pass from Corvara and Colfosco. The hut is beautiful and cosy on the inside, has a terrace with one of the best views of the Sella pass, and is famous for its home made grappa. Because of its location on the Sella Ronda circuit, it might be difficult to find a table at lunch if you did not make a reservation.
One of my favourites is the ‘Pralongia‘ hut. It is located on the top above Corvara and San Cassiano on 2.157 m, with fantastic views of the pink hued mountains all around from their wonderful large terrace. They also have rooms if you want to be the first on the slopes in the morning or the last one in the evening.
Their kitchen is fantastic, and they serve the best apfelstrudel I ever tasted. They are located on the top of the Pralongia II lift, the Incisa drag lift and the Masarei lift coming form Arabba. Their toilets are located on the ground floor, so no hopping down stairs with your ski boots.
If you are in Corvara, on the Piz Arlara side, the hut ‘Boconara‘ is a popular spot for skiers and non-skiers alike. It is a bit more modern than most huts but nice for an aperitif in the sun.
Another popular spot is ‘Utai I Tabla‘ a traditional mountain style hut. Nice on the inside and with a great terrace outside. Good for a warm drink in between. At the top of the Brancia lift. They also serve delicious food, pasta and grilled meat, polenta is one of their specialties and they have wonderfull desserts! The service is super friendly. Only downside; there are only two toilets for women what often results in queues on busy days.
At the top of the Arlara lift, which you can reach from San Cassiona and Corvara you find the ‘Piz Arlara‘ hut, a spacious place where it is great to have a Tyrolean lunch or a drink in between the slopes. You can order a 0,5 l ski water, they mix blueberry syrup with the lemon water, which makes it a whole lot sweeter. The hut boasts a 360° view of the mountains around.
On top of Colt Alt, you find ‘Utia Colt Alt‘, a great mountain hut, with great food and drinks, and good apfelstrudel. The hut is located at the top of the Col Alto lift, from where you can go down to San Cassiano, Corvara or La Villa.
A small and cosy hut is Utia Forcelles, on the top of the Colfosco chairlift. They serve great food and here we tried the famous Kaiserschmarrn. The hut is small so you better make reservations or come early.
A fancy looking hut is Utia La Tambra at the Passo Campolongo where the green and orange Sella Ronda cross between Corvara and Arabba. Nice seating inside. They serve great pizza’s to share
On the Sella Ronda we tried the following refugios-huts:
The ‘Dantercepies Mountain Lounge‘ on top of the Dantercepies slope in Selva de Val Gardena. It is a very large place, with self service. Not the most cosy hut, but they offer some of the best views of the Sella Ronda, with great seats inside and outside, and great food. Located at the top of the Dantercepies lift from Selva.
‘Baïta Vallongia‘, in Selva di Val Gardena, when you get of the Ciampinoi cable car on the way to Plan di Gralba. Good for lunch or a piece of home made apfelstrudel with a coffee in the afternoon.
The ‘Salei‘ Hutte, on Fiz Sella in Val di Fassa. This hut offers great views of the Sella range. The cappuccino is very good at a very good price. We did not eat here but the plates looked delicious, you have a restaurant on top and a self service counter on the ground floor. Definitely a good option for a lunch stop on the Sella Ronda tour.
The typical local hot drinks you can choose from in the mountain refugios: mountain herb tea, jägertee, rum punch, lubumba (hot chocolate with rum), calimero (coffee, eggnog, and whipped cream), bombardino (mix of eggnog and brandy served hot and topped with whipped cream), mulled wine (glühwein), caffé corretto (espresso with an added shot of grappa), or just a regular coffee, hot chocolate or tea. If you want something stronger: a grappa, a schnapps (plum or blueberry) or a brandy (William – the local pear brandy). Ski water (hot lemon juice, sometimes with blueberry syrup) is the perfect solution for when you are thirsty. The typical desserts of the region: apfelstrüdel, kaiserschmarrn, tiramisu, buckwheat cake, sacher pie, blueberry pie and cheesecake. Typical mountain dishes are knödel, risotto, ravioli, potato noodles, polenta, pig, dumplings, bacon, cheese or meat boards, and breads flavoured with fenegreek, fennel and cumin. Skiers often opt for a hot soup: the typical goulash soup, barley soup with fritelle or pork dumpling soup.
There was one hut that did manage to disappoint us: ‘La Ciasota’, located between the lifts Masarei and Vizza, where you go from Alta Badia to Arabba or back. The drinks were very simple and the service likewise. Skip this one; there are enough other places to enjoy a stop.