They have chosen quality: on the plate, but especially in life. Pamela and Hermann Innerebner run a small restaurant in Pennes di Dentro, the last village in Val Sarentino before the homonymous mountain pass that connects Bolzano with the Upper Isarco Valley in the Eastern Rhaetian Alps.
I have been coming to Val Sarentino for 20 years and I love this valley for the beauty of nature, the simplicity of life, the water that flows there, pure and fresh, for the intense smell of resin and hay, the slow passage of time. Because here everything is slower, silent, and far from the mass tourism which the Valley has always decided not to open up to.
Yet, here you can find excellence, born from the passion of people, from the desire to pursue dreams and ideals, but also founded on very specific life choices as in the case of Hermann and Pamela Innerebner.
My husband Hermann -Pamela says- began his journey as a cook. Cooking has always been his passion, but he could not open a restaurant right away. So for 10 years, he ran a pub. Then we met, I got pregnant, and we realized that pub, children, and family could not live together.
In the meantime, the time was ripe to open a restaurant, and so the Innerebner family pursued this path by opening an establishment with more than 100 seats, always full in summer and winter, husband and wife in the dining room, and a cook who could offer simple traditional dishes. Because Hermann’s ideal cuisine, a bit more refined and elaborate, hardly fit the large numbers.
It was a lot of work -Pamela continues in her story- but we were tired, nervous. Customers felt it and so they were not satisfied either. In 2019 we realized that this could not work that way. For ourselves, for our two children who are now 12 and 9 years old. So we emptied the place, threw out the tables, made everything smaller, and thought of a new idea of catering, more intimate, refined, and cared for. And with Hermann in the kitchen, free at last to unleash his creativity.
The restaurant today looks like a cozy mountain lodge, with a touch of modernity that does not hurt, indeed, confirming the choice to look to a future secured in its traditions and the offers of a unique territory.
The details are meticulous, from the mise en place to the presentation of the dishes. The service, managed by Pamela, is excellent, courteous, punctual, and never predictable.
And the cuisine reflects the great work of quest for quality raw materials, which Hermann strongly believes in.
For our dishes -Pamela explains- we use almost exclusively local producers, except for raw materials that Hermann loves and uses occasionally in his dishes such as truffles. Purchases begin by starting with the farmers who live closest to us and increases in the search for the best meats, eggs, and produce. The herbs he uses we grow at home. And then on Saturday mornings, he goes to the local farmers’ market or the cooperative across the Pennes Pass.
The clientele at Alpenrestaurant Elisabeth is mainly local, but here by local we mean a little bit of all of South Tyrol, and it is a year-round clientele that does not respond to the logic of mass tourism.
In the dishes, you can sense the search for quality, fully. Starting from the most traditional and territorial raw material there is: speck, which is often offered as a welcome entrée. I am not a speck fanatic, but the one served by Elisabeth melts in the mouth and has all the flavors of the mountains.
Among the dishes, I enjoyed the most was the “Homemade Tagliatelle of ancient flour with chanterelles from Val Sarentino“, with a perfect texture and cooking, a dough that harmoniously blends with the fragrant mushroom that grows in abundance in the woods of the valley. The “Homemade lamb ravioli with aged cheese foam from the Hinterporsel farm” (ed. Which is located a couple of kilometers away, in the village of San Martino): again, the perfect thickness of the dough, delicate the filling that finds its enhancement in the delicate cheese foam. The same ravioli, equally delicious, are on the menu with other types of fillings such as broccoli.
Not only is meat in the chef’s thoughts, but he also dares, daringly, dishes where he combines a delicate basil risotto with grilled mountain shrimp. And you can really taste the mountain in the shrimp, I assure you, because the flavor is not that of the classic sea shrimp.
The Sarentino Roastbeef speaks for itself. We are in the mountains, where cows are fed and raised in the best settings.
Even in the simple appetizers, such as the salad with forest flavors, Herman manages to impress because nothing in his dishes is taken for granted.
As for desserts, the menu offers a “spoon dessert” and some homemade cakes. We tasted the strudel and it was delicious. Not to mention the classic tart, carrot cake, or traditional buckwheat cake.
Excellent and well composed is the wine list that favors, as it should, local excellence. A word of advice? Decide on a price range and let Pamela choose the wine and cellar. You will not regret it.
Finally, prices. Elisabeth is not a cheap restaurant, but neither is it a tourist mountain lodge.
The price is proportional to the quality of what you will find on the plate, which is the result of passion, a very specific lifestyle choice, and a great deal of research. I would revise downward the cost of the main courses, in general, a bit disproportionate to the rest.
Returning to Elisabeth’s will only be a great pleasure!
Visit the GALLERY to see the photos of Alpenrestaurant Elisabeth
Innerpens 56 | 39058 Sarentino, Bolzanowww.alpenrestaurant-elisabeth.com
Tel. +39 0471 627310
Aperto dal martedì alla domenica dalle 10.00 alle 18.00
Nel week end aperto anche per cena
QUALITY/ PRICE: : 8
THE FOODRIVER MARK : 9