I guess its been about a year and a half ( I know, Im really late with this), but I was in Udine (north east of Venice) in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy in early April of 2003.
My wife and I settled down in a wine bar to take a break. Shortly afterwards we are joined at the next table by a local who turned out to be an American. Military father stationed here for a while; Italian mother moved to the states but came back here when he was old enough. Weird guy furniture salesman, was drunk or at least acted like it. Kind of fun to talk to. Kept apologizing for all the four letter words in his speech. We asked him were we should go to dinner. He recommended Trattoria alla Vedova. Not in old town, we would have to drive. Oh well, a recommendation from a local is worth gold in our minds, even if it means braving the city streets. We went. Best decision we made on the entire trip.
Alla Vedova is a family run affair, the mother and two daughters. We had a lovely time. We tried some more local specialties on the menu Frico: a fried blob of cheese that is wonderful gooey on the inside, crispy on the outside; and Cjarsons (spelled differently throughout Friuli, such as cialzons & cjalsons) a special gnocchi made with fruit, cheese, spices -including cinnamon. Lovely stuff. We also had baby goat. Terrific. Lovely appetizer of ham from Sauris with Montasio (the local cheese), pears and greens. The ham was outstanding, a smoky sweetness like Ive never had before. Another hit was gnocchi with red sauce and sausage. At one point we asked them were they got the baby goat, turns out it was from the family farm. This was were dad spent his time. He also made the house wine and olive oil from fruit he grew.
Trattoria alla Vedova
Via Tavagnacco, 9, Udine, 0432/470291
If you are ever in the area you absolutely must go. And anytime you are traveling, talk to the locals. You just never know where it will lead.