The Dolomites are renowned for their mountain restaurants, but over in the Italian Alps, Sauze d’Oulx has always kept pretty quiet about it. We hear a lot about the nightlife, but what most people don’t know is that there is a plethora of really excellent village and on-mountain eateries here – many of which every bit as good as in the Dolomites.
Fabulous pizzas and gourmet hideaways in the woods
Sauze d’Oulx has a dozen of its own mountain restaurants, with a cluster of establishments around the Sportinia hub. This area seems to attract the majority of Sauze’s visitors at lunchtime and can be busy. Eateries that stand out are the Hotel Monte Triplex (+39 0122 858015) for its fabulous pizzas – big enough for two and freshly made while you wait, and the architect-designed Capanna Mulino (+39 333 691453) which has its own scaled-down model on display in the Guggenheim museum in New York. Rocce Nere has table-service grills ranging from burgers to Argentinean sirloin steak.
Further afield are some truly charming restaurants. A favourite of ours, huddled in the woods above Sauze d’Oulx, is Ciao Pais, with traditional local dishes to eat including fabulous antipasti starters such as chestnuts in balsamic vinegar and warm red peppers in bagna cauda (meaning ‘hot bath’ – of olive oil, with garlic cloves and anchovies). Order a selection to share instead of a main course. It’s open for lunch and in the evening, with seven bedrooms for those who want to stay the night.
On the home run is the Michelin-starred restaurant Naskira in Il Capricorno, which as sleek and stylish as you’d expect to find in Courchevel – but without the sky-high prices to match. A friendly little place is Ristorante Bar Clotes (+39 349 775 8947), on the final stretch of the home run, where – if you stop for a Bombardino at around 4pm – they’ll give you free sandwiches and anything else leftover from lunchtime. The prices are some of the best in an already very reasonable resort: 1€ for a coffee and 6€ for a bowl of pasta.
Further away on the Milky Way circuit are countless restaurants – varying from cafeterias to cosy little cabins such as the Baita Gimont above Claviere, the lovely log cabin Raggio di Sole (+39 0122 76982) on the Anfiteatro slopes of Sestriere, Soleil Boeuf (+39 0122 811224) above Sansicario, and the bright yellow Tana della Volpe, which is a restaurant with nine rooms on the men’s downhill above Sestriere.
Avoid half board and head out
Hotel half-board food often leaves a lot to be desired, although the more expensive establishments tend to have buffets with quite a lot of choice. Overall, wholesale package holiday prices have not much fat on them these days. As a result, hoteliers spend as little as possible on your dinner. Your best bet is either to self-cater or stay B&B. By French resort standards it’s ridiculously cheap to eat out.
Assietta is a modern restaurant on the main square, serving good honest pizzas and pasta. Sugo’s, in the old town, is a typical spaghetteria with good pasta but variable service and The Godfather (+39 0122 85029) is one of the many pizzerias – and it’s open until late at night. Del Borgo (+39 0122 850329) has 40 different varieties of pizza cooked in a traditional wood-burning oven. Pizzeria La Griglia (+39 0122 850344) has a wood-burning stove and fine pizzas. Il Cantun del Barbabuc (+39 0122 858593) is also recommended.
Gorgeous little restaurants tucked away in the Old Town
The restaurants in the old town are, on the whole, more upmarket than in the streets around the main piazza. One is Del Falco, owned by ex-pats Vince and Annette Hawkins – she’s the chef and he’s the maitre d’ – and they serve some truly delectable dishes. Similarly, L’Ortiche is British-owned and run, with excellent home cooking. Il Cantun del Barbaduc (+39 0122 858593) offers ten-course meals and a good wine list. L’Orto del Frate serves Savoie food. Yes, that’s Savoie in France. Expect to eat fondue, raclette, pierrade and tartiflette here. La Griglia (+39 0122 850344) is a traditional pizzeria with a wood-burning stove and lots of atmosphere. The lively Paddy McGinty’s pub has a small restaurant called Rosie’s (+39 0122 850785). Up the mountain, Il Capricorno is open for dinner, and has rooms in case you want to stay over.