Fine Dining at an Altitude of 2000m
Sustainably Championing Ingredients from the Alpine Region
Situated atop Plan de Corones, one of the many breath-taking mountains in the Dolomites, this fine dining destination operates at an altitude of 2000m.
Founded by renowned Italian chef Norbert Niederkofler together with Paolo Ferretti, Niederkofler’s Cook the Mountain philosophy acts as the north star for the restaurant, championing its local farmers, their produce and Alpine culture. Holder of three Michelin stars, Niederkofler was born and raised in the South Tyrol region which he continues to celebrate and highlight through his multiple projects in the region (founding celebrated haute-cuisine restaurant St. Hubertus and newly-opened Atelier Moessmer).
AlpiNN however is incomparable. Perched on the mountain’s edge, this north-west facing restaurant presents spectacular 180 degree panoramic views of the Dolomites also overlooking the township below.
An old cable car station turned restaurant, the building itself is a striking vision amongst the landscape. An all-glass structure on stilts, the restaurant – designed by Gerhard Mahlknecht of EM2 Architects – shares the building with the next door mountain photography museum, Lumen. Both are situated a short walk from the Kronplatz2000 and multiple cable car options taking visitors up 2,257m above sea level from any base (north, south, east) of the mountain’s foothill. To note, AlpiNN can only be reached by cable-car (20 minutes) or by foot; with a 4-5 hour walk to reach the restaurant from San Vigilio di Marebbe, Olang, or Reischach starting points (to note: it is not possible to reach the restaurant by car).
Inside, South Tyrol-born and London-based designer Martino Gamper oversaw the interiors, ensuring to keep the palette and fittings in respect to context. Natural timbers and tones all create a relaxed ambience for the diverse demographic of visitors (skiers, hikers or just tourists) ascending the mountain. Staff all wear La Sportiva shoes and Patagonia clothing – their ‘uniform’ – a nod to the restaurants ethos of authenticity and sustainable production and consumption.
Niederkofler’s Cook The Mountain philosophy finds its literal context here, working with produce directly grown or foraged on the mountain and within the South Tyrol region. His aim: to explore how the chef can promote the protection of the territory in which they live in championing conscious local production of organic ingredients following the seasons.Through this, the chef can be a catalyst for changing the perspectives and lifestyle of the general public where a larger impact for a sustained global environment can be made.
When we first met Norbert five years ago at an event in London highlighting the South Tyrol region, he definitively stated “You can’t feed 10 billion with current agricultural systems, you need to go back to small farmers”. With realistic solutions to the issues surrounding soil and mono-culture farming to provide for Earth’s growing population, Norbert leads words with action in his work and restaurants.
Executive Chef Fabio Curreli leads AlpiNN’s ethical gastronomic approach through inventive and transformative dishes, paired with the best of the region’s wine and beverages.
The menu communicates the definitive pillars that Cook The Mountain aims to share, and Currelli authentically takes this to greater heights. In Currelli’s kitchen, they make their own fermented goods such as kimchi, soy sauce and miso – all made with products from the mountain. Dishes all share his innovative ideas and reflect the environment outside.
The wine list features the best producers from the surrounding countries, such as Germany, France and Switzerland in addition to the best bottles from Italy, with some even 6-7km away from AlpiNN using the oldest grapes in South Tyrol. On our visit we enjoyed the Alpi Retiche Rosso 2020 from Barbacàn, based in Valtellina on the border of Switzerland in the Italian Alps on steep terraces and whom practise organic viticulture, and La Maldación from Spain using the indigenous Malvar grape (their 2020 harvest was especially impressive).
The restaurant uses water solely from the mountain, and the taste reflects – and is unique to – the environment. Filtered and purified, it is available in still or sparkling, and with filtration on site, reduces energy and resources of bottled water, in addition to the multiple health and environment impacts. The restaurant also fronts an initiative to help build drinking water wells in lesser-supported community sports areas, giving younger people an opportunity for a healthier start to life.
South Tyrol is a region rich with a joint heritage, as residents speak either or both German and Italian. This diversity enables the area to present multiple authentic and original experiences in dining, hospitality and outdoor activities (walking, hiking, skiing). The way the locale champions all that it offers should be commended, contributing to the charm and simplicity we will be returning back for.
And AlpiNN? We’re still dreaming about our time with chef Curreli and his wonderful menu, the taste and texture of his dishes lingering long in our memories.
Plan de Corones 11, 39031 – Brunico,
South Tyrol, Italy
Text: Editor-in-Chief Monique Kawecki
Images: Champ Magazine©