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Antonia Klumann: Best Kept Secret 1 Km from Slovenia

Fulvio Marcello Zendrini
copertina antonia klugmann

In an idyllic hamlet of only 20 people, Antonia Klugmann and her sister Vittoria coordinate a group of a dozen people. Her talent manages to attract cooking enthusiasts and journalists from all over the world, 1 kilometer from Slovenia.

L´Argine a Vencò

I must be very careful when I write and share my experiences with some of my chef friends. I must be careful because too easily I let myself be influenced in my analysis and judgment by factors that have nothing to do with facts and dishes. Emotions, friendship, affection, sympathy often enter play. And a good food critic cannot and should not afford this.

How many times have we criticized people whose goal is not to judge and write, and how many times have we said that gastronomic criticism must be based on knowledge and not on emotions, on recognized parameters and not on biased evaluations. How many times have we violently attacked the TripAdvisor’s who like judges, proclaim themselves experts, while remaining the champions of the "like or dislike", which means nothing in the kitchen.

@Mattia Mionetto

Yes, you read that correctly. “Like” or “dislike” doesn't mean anything, it's entirely irrelevant. What you like, I might not, and vice versa, tastes are different and legitimate. What matters, however, is whether a dish "is good" or "not good". And this can only be established by those who are experts, those who know and have traveled and tasted a lot and have a gastronomic culture. Here: the gastronomic criticism that counts, that is valid, is made by people of culture. Of this culture. People who judge objectively, almost coldly, in a comparative and impartial way.

@Paolo Ferraino

You will now understand why there are some cooks, and Antonia is among these, with whom I have a long lasting and deep friendship, made up of emotions and not necessarily of speeches, of attention and smiles, of understandings and never misunderstandings. Antonia is like that. She doesn't seem to talk much, sometimes she's shy. It is quite the opposite: she is raging torrent, perfectly aware of her long and diversified training, of her successes but also of her mistakes, about her fears and what makes her happy instead.

@Mattia Mionetto

The restaurant

Seemingly alone in Vencò, where she strongly wanted to place her restaurant, L’Argine, actually today she leads and coordinates, with her sister Vittoria, a group of a dozen people, and with her skill she manages to attract cooking enthusiasts and journalists from all over the world, to a location situated a kilometer from Slovenia.

@Mattia Mionetto

Why? How? Because Antonia is different: she has not opened a large restaurant full of frills, but a small house, near the river, made up of minimal and clean furniture, sparse but warm decorations. And, at L’Argine, the service is minimal, courteous, and never loud.

Absolutely all the attention is directed towards a single thing: the dish. Antonia is unique: I can’t recall, in the hundreds of restaurants I've visited in recent years, ever having found such a great, obsessive attention to diversity. 

And then she's good. The new dishes are invented and structured by her (as well as dissected) already in her head, even before she arrives in the kitchen. When it comes to cooking, Klugmann already knows what she wants and how she wants to make it. Her care for the realization is meticulous: weight, cooking technique, combinations, everything is studied with meticulous attention to perfection, taste, and minimalistic perfect presentation. For Antonia there are almost never possible alternatives to a dish: there is only THAT dish, THE dish. She studies it, dissects it, and creates it, without errors. Two, maximum three ingredients. One, maximum two colors. Only one taste: different and precise. Simply good.

Favorite flavors? I sense a great deal of attention and understanding towards bitterness, the main taste of Italian cuisine, as she explains, of chicory, scorzonera. And then many, many vegetables, of all types if they are indigenous, of all colors… as long as they are green! The last dinner I had enjoyed there was exactly this. An extraordinary menu, made of highly selected ingredients, refined and sharp techniques, perfect colors… and a lot of emotion. Yes, emotion. Because the experience of a dinner at Antonia's, despite all this precision, calculation, and planning, turns out to be exciting. Antonia talks about herself through her ingredients, she identifies with her techniques, she talks about herself through her preparations. Simply wonderful.

@Mattia Mionetto


Abbiamo mangiato:

Roasted broccoli, anchovy, cabbage, and salsa verde

And a creation like this sums up the mastery of a chef who, with very simple elements, manages to create a dish of great intensity.

Panzanella of the Northwest


Then Fasolari, cooked and raw.

A sauce of fasolari, large clams commonly found in Italy, chicory and puntarelle, crunchy chicory shoots. Here the quality of the raw material certainly helps, but the result, harmonious with a decidedly bitter taste, surpasses even the highest expectations.

Cooked and raw fasolari, chicory, puntarelle


To follow, mixed salad with cumin and chamomile

Good, very fresh, and never plain.

Mixed salad with cumin and chamomile


And here comes the sea urchins and quince, with candied orange, common rue and bottarga, cured fish roe. A complex dish, the feeling of sea in your mouth. An explosion of flavor and wonderful roundness, with pure sea urchins enhanced in taste by the other ingredients. extremely good.

Marrow, beetroot reduction, and sauerkraut

Here we are. Here I must stop. Here everything Klugmann represents is enclosed in a dish, powerful, showing all her strength, her desire for research, but also her professionalism and competence in bringing together new ingredients in a harmony of flavors which, however, lead to a single result: a good one. Again!

Marrow, beetroot, and sauerkraut reduction


To follow, capellini cardoons and olives, with pasta cooked in cardoons broth, yogurt, and olive paste. Carbohydrates, to differ from the previous dishes.

Capellini cardi and olive


And here comes another dish/demonstration: white turnip in chicken broth, with roasted turnip, chicken, and lemon soup. From two simple elements she obtains a very good dish: comfort and flavor together.

Roasted White Turnip, Chicken and Lemon Soup


And more dough: green chard ravioli filled with swiss chard, green beans and bladder campion. Once again comfort, goodness, and flavor.


 Green chard ravioli, stuffed with chard, green beans and bladder campion.

Then Friulian white corn dumpling. A story inside: that of Friuli, of white corn, and Antonia.

Roasted gnocchi with white pearl corn and Parmigiano 

And finally… the closing act with the Friuli tripe, made with beef tripe, walnuts, lamb's lettuce, and chocolate powder. Umami and tradition, Misery, and nobility. 

Friuli tripe made from beef, walnuts, lamb's lettuce and chocolate powder. 

 Pear and oat milk

Cover photo: @Journey in Taste (Lexus)


L'Argine restaurant in Vencò

Località Vencó n 15 – 34070 Vencò

Tel. +39 0481 199 9882

Mail info@largineavenco.it


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