Le Dune,

Via Dante 41

34070 Mariano del Friuli (Gorizia)

Tel +39 0481 69021

April 2008

Le Dune is not the kind of place readers visiting Friuli are likely to happen upon by chance. The restaurant is tucked off a small road in the sleepy rural town of Mariano del Friuli and is very easy to miss. Locals in the know come here for Chef/Owner Giovanni Carta’s brilliant cuisine. Carta works with the finest fish and seafood of the Adriatic, but adds a dash of Sardinian flair with the pristine ingredients he sources from his native land. Le Dune is most famous for their antipasti, which can number seven, eight or more small tastes. The antipasti are so good I have usually focused virtually all of my attention on them and have never made it beyond the pasta course, despite having eaten here a number of times! In fact, I have never seen a menu, as I prefer to let Carta surprise me with his creations. Le Dune’s wine list is well-priced and offers a comprehensive selection of local bottlings, making it a great place to explore the breadth of Friuli’s oenological landscape. The atmosphere is fairly casual and appropriate for children, especially during the day.

Highlights of this great lunch included the raw scallops in the shell and the Sardinian red shrimp, both of which were succulent. In fact, when fish is this profound, the natural question can only be; why bother cooking it at all? Our four tastes of raw fish were all sublime. The squid and octopus courses were tasty versions of traditional dishes. The highlight, though, was the roasted Sardinian lobster, which was quite simply to die for. The gratin topping was light and beautifully complemented the explosive, sweet, richly-flavored lobster meat. This dish alone was worth a visit. Jacques Selosses’s wines are very hard to find in the US, yet they are relatively easy to find in Italy, so I rarely pass up an opportunity to drink them. The NV Contraste (disgorged Feb. 2004) revealed a rich amber color. This 100% Pinot Noir continued to put on weight and develop in the glass. It revealed generous fruit intermingled with pretty, tertiary notes that had developed in the bottle. This was a stunning, sensual Champagne that paired beautifully with our raw fish courses.

We couldn’t go home without sampling the spaghetti alla bottarga di muggine, the classic preparation of spaghetti topped with dried fish roe that is one of the specialties at Le Dune. The 2004 Vitovska MM4 from the Vodopivec brothers was lush and weighty. The tannins had softened since I last tasted the wine about a year ago, but it had gained an added dimension of volume. A powerful, intense wine, it was a superb match for our richer dishes, including the Sardinian lobster and the spaghetti. Readers paying a visit to Friuli won’t want to miss the superb cuisine of Le Dune.


Raw Scampi

Raw Scallops on the Shell

Raw Sardinian Red Shrimp

Carpaccio of Sea Bass

Poached Squid

Piovra of Octopus and Potatoes

Roasted Monkfish

Roasted Whole Sardinian Lobster

Spaghetti with Bottarga di Muggine 



Jacques Selosse Contraste (disgorged Feb 2004)



Vodopivec Vitovska MM4


--Antonio Galloni