Restaurant Review – Al Tiglio Cucina Naturale, Udine, Italy

Al Tiglio Cucina Naturale is a fully vegan, fine dining restaurant located in Moruzzo, near Udine. This is a short drive away from our place in Slovenia so for our birthdays this year, Pete and I decided that we would treat each other to a fancy evening out instead of doing prezzies.

The location of the restaurant is stunning as it’s on top of a hill, so on a clear day you can see right out to Venice and it’s also surrounded by vineyards and typical Italian villages away from the regular tourist trail. Moruzzo is a tiny village but when we arrived it was apertivo time and it seemed like all the locals were having a vino at the local Osteria which is what I love about Italy. We reserved a table for Al Tiglio a couple of weeks in advance and I think it’s advisable as this place does get busy. You get the table for the entire evening and we were seated downstairs where there is a fabulous view out over the northern Italian countryside.

The menu changes every month and as soon as we turned to the first page, we knew we were in for a real treat. Living in rural Slovenia and France for the past few years, the vegan options have been super limited, so seeing Al Tiglio’s impressive menu was a delight for the eyes and the tummy! It is split into the typical primi, secondi and dolce sections and they also serve salads and foccacia available for sharing. Not being able to make up our minds, we both opted for the tasting menu so we could try a variety of dishes. This was 6 courses for €40.00 or €45.00 with dessert. We also had an aperitif each and shared a bottle of red wine from our beloved Piedmont.

The first half of the tasting menu was made up of dishes from the starter menu which was all raw vegan. I haven’t delved into this side of veganism as I love cooked food too much but these dishes really stood out in terms of flavour and style. There was a welcome amuse-bouch from the chef which was savoury gluten free biscuit with homemade mayonnaise. followed by courgette spaghetti with a cashew and Sicilian tomato cream sauce. This was a flavour sensation and really fresh. After this was fried tempeh served with a walnut, almond and white garlic gazpacho. This was one of my favourite courses, I’m obsessed with what you can create with nuts and the gazpacho was delicious. It had dehydrated beetroot sprinkled on top to add a dramatic colour pop with greenery. Following this was hummus and vegetables, a pretty standard vegan staple but still served beautifully with a mixed seed crumble, confit tomatoes and roasted vegetables.

The second half of the menu introduced some warm dishes but before that we had a raw vegan lasgana layered with raw courgette and in between were layers coloured to represent the Italian flag. The red sauce was cherry tomatoes, the white was macadamia nuts and the green was tofu with basil. It was garnished with chopped peanuts and oregano. Our first warm dish was ‘Ritorno dal Bosco‘ translated to ‘Back from the woods’, which was locally picked shiitake mushrooms on a mushroom cream with chopped cocoa beans, puffed rice and parsley which was really tasty. It was a small dish but packed in a lot of flavour. The final savoury dish was called ‘Il piatto dei Monaci‘ or ‘The Monk’s dish’ which was buckwheat with Gialletti mushrooms. This simple dish was colourful and tasted like a wholesome Autumnal dish, it certainly finished the meal off the tasting menu brilliantly.

Now, by this point I was getting very full but you cannot pass up on a dessert at a restaurant like this. As mentioned above, adding a dessert onto the tasting menu costs an additional €5 but it was €5 well spent. After much deliberation I went for the ‘Omaggio al Maestro‘ which was the ‘Tribute to the Master’. This beautiful dessert was a raw cocoa and hazelnut cake on raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and vanilla yoghurt. Pete went for the artisan gelato with fresh fruits and they even gave us candles for our birthday, how sweet!

We had a magical evening at Al Tiglio Cucina Naturale. We are not the type of people who eat out at fancy restaurants so it was truly a real treat for us. As soon as we walked through the doors, the staff were so friendly and made you feel at ease. The atmosphere and little touches of the restaurant were so lovely and the icing on the (vegan) cake was that the food was outstanding. Believe me, this restaurant lives up to the vegan hype and it is paving the way for the innovative and modern plant based food scene. Each course was intricately plated and I really felt like I was in a Michelin starred restaurant, this place definitely deserves one! Grazie mille to Sabrina and Max for an excellent birthday meal.

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