Dieci restaurant – more and more sustainable and Bulgarian: spring 2023 menu by Chef Gianfranco Chiarini.

We are visiting DIECI restaurant in Devino village for the sixth time and after our latest visit in October 2022 a lot of things have changed there. The furniture in the cozy home of chefs Gianfranco and Anna Chiarini have changed their places, on the walls there are more memories of the 2-year Bulgarian history of DIECI. The museum with artefacts from all over the world is almost ready. The book DIECI – One of a kind, which tells the unusual story of this unusual place in Bulgaria, is also ready. And we are feeling more and more home.

Dieci restaurant - Spring 2023
Dieci restaurant – Spring 2023


We will start our story backwards with a conclusion: the menu Spring 2023 of DIECI was the most exciting, the best and the most Bulgarian so far. The evolution of DIECI is obvious. The initial determination of the Chiarini family to build their concept in a sustainable way, based on Bulgarian products and eco-friendly living, has evolved to a cult to Bulgarian seasonal products. More and more obvious is also the Bulgarian taste that sometimes brings us decades back to our childhood. It is a mystery how a foreigner, who has lived in Bulgaria for only 5 years, has managed to reach so deep into the Bulgarian mentality.

Chefs Gianfranco and Anna Chiarini at DIECI Restaurant
Chefs Gianfranco and Anna Chiarini at DIECI Restaurant

Bread and wine

If you have read any of our previous articles about the Dieci restaurant , you probably already know that order and discipline are an invariable part of the experience there. And this is particularly charming. The dinner always starts with bread and butter and today the bread is with lavender and pistachio. It smells of dried lavender sprigs above the fireplace. It’s still winter. And while everyone in the dining room is enjoying it, Chef Gianfranco walks by to remind us that there are 10 more courses to follow and advises us to leave room for them as well.

Mimi enjoys the fragrant lavender bread
Mimi enjoys the fragrant lavender bread

Shortly before the bread, we ordered the first glass of wine. DIECI’s wine list is both familiar and new. Their exclusive wine partner is Villa Melnik , one of the best Bulgarian wineries. Another wine partner since very recently is CELLAR 52 – the wonderful wine bar in Sofia, from which they stock up on great champagne.

We are ready for our wine selection even before arrival – Aplauz Viognier Sur LieA stunning wine that is always a thrill to open and one that we always keep at home and bring to friends who will appreciate it. A wine that goes so well with appetizers at DIECI (and not just appetizers) that it’s almost always our choice to start the evening. Except for the moments when we decide to start with its “brother” – Aplauz Chardonnay .

Cheers to Villa Melnik's fabulous Aplauz Viognier
Cheers to Villa Melnik’s fabulous Aplauz Viognier

Amuse in a cone

Amuse bouche is one of our favorite dishes at Dieci because we never know what it will be. There is no information about it on the menu. Today it’s pork rillettes in a wheat, honey and dehydrated parsley cone. A fine texture and a fresh finish, thanks to the anise flavour.

Rillette is a technique for preserving meat in fat, along with spices, one of which is star anise. The technique originates from French cuisine, but here the products are entirely Bulgarian.

Pork rillettes in parsley cone - amuse bouche at Dieci.
Pork rillettes in a parsley cone
Chef Gianfranco Chiarini's wonderful pork rillette
Chef Gianfranco Chiarini’s wonderful pork rillette


In previous articles we have mentioned that Chef Gianfranco himself grows or collects a large part of the products he serves on the table. This is also valid for the main product in the next dish, namely venison carpaccio . The dish is called Mare e Monte (sea and mountain) because the carpaccio is topped with spicy Black Sea mussels from Kavarna.On the top there is a drop of oil with dill and homemade mayonnaise with jujube.

Now a few words about the deer. We already knew that Chef Gianfranco hunts his own game and collects truffles with his dog Texas – a beautiful and well-behaved girl, a full member of the DIECI family. In line with the concept of sustainability, he hunts only one deer a year. A part of it is used for the needs of the restaurant and the rest is given free of charge to the local hunters and villagers.

The carpaccio with mussels is divine – it combines the tenderness of the meat, sweetness from the mayonnaise, saltiness from the mussels and a spicy-salty note for finish. The only non-Bulgarian product so far is olive oil, which comes from Greece and is of the Koroneiki variety.

Venison carpaccio with Black Sea mussels
Venison carpaccio with Black Sea mussels

The art of preserving

Did you know that the spring menu in this type of restaurants is the most difficult to create and execute, since there are almost no fresh products and you have to rely on the products harvested and stored in the fall? Therefore, the main techniques here are pickling, fermentation and ageing.

So our next appetizer is sweet-spicy fermented radish, grown by local granny Tanya, along with aged white cheese from Elena town. This is not the first time we taste Chef Gianfranco’s experiments with cheese aging. The cheese, flavored with truffle and lavender, is aged for 50 days in an underground pit located in Dieci’s courtyard. In the dish there is also smoked honey from the beehive in the Chiarini family’s yard.

Pickled radish with aged cheese - Dieci restaurant
Pickled radish with aged cheese – Dieci restaurant

Back to the classics: DIECI’s Pate de Campagne

Every great dish deserves to return to the table over and over again, even though its season has passed. Thus, in DIECI, some signature dishes from previous menus, which made the strongest impression on the guests and are becoming classics, are beginning to reappear on the table. One of them is based on a true French classic, namely Pâté de campagne. We tried it for the first time exactly a year ago and were overjoyed to go back to it. Pate with orange jam, mushroom powder and balsamic vinegar from Melnik Jubilee 1300 wine of Villa Melnik.

Dieci pate – one of the signature dishes in 2022
Dieci pate – one of the signature dishes in 2022

Here we change the wine and switch to another classic – Villa Melnik’s Aplauz Rosé . This is probably the most versatile wine of the entire list, combining beautifully with all the dishes on the menu.

The artisan taste

The dishes on the menu continue to take us deeper into the forest, bringing to us us more and more unexpected flavours and aromas. Here we have lacto-fermented Chanterelle mushroom with roasted caramelized carrot, 1 month fermented garlic and rose hip tapenade. The carrots are again from grandma Tanya, the garlic too, the rose hips are from Stara Zagora region.

Fermented Chanterelle mushroom with caramelized carrot
Fermented Chanterelle mushroom with caramelized carrot

The location of DIECI may not allow to grow all the products on site, but we are always happy to see how chefs Gianfranco and Anna Chiarini travel across Bulgaria to find the best the Bulgarian land can provide. More than 95 % of the products used in the restaurant are Bulgarian. So, now we travel to the forest, smell the earth and go back to our roots. This dinner occurs on March 3rd, the Bulgaria Liberation day.

Still, we also understand Chef Gianfranco’s desire to return to his own roots in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Pasta and risotto are a must-have in his menus, but they are always refracted through the lens of Bulgarian products and traditions. This time the pasta is pumpkin-stuffed capellacio on a canapé of venison ragout, duck demiglas and sage. Italian inspiration, Bulgarian products and a taste you can’t forget.

Cappellacio with pumpkin and venison ragout
Cappellacio with pumpkin and venison ragout

The break

It’s time for the regular break in the middle of the menu – Intermezzo . It has several very important functions. It gives you the opportunity to stop for a while and process what is happening to you both on a physiological and a mental level. For the stomach to process some of the food and for the mind to realize where it is and how far it is. The break is also a great opportunity to sit on the sofa with Chef Gianfranco and Anna and ask them everything you wanted to ask them during dinner. Or just to get some fresh air if you need it.

The sofa at DIECI is the place for curious conversations in the break between meals
The sofa at DIECI is the place for curious conversations in the break between meals

Why Bulgaria and especially why Devino is one of the questions that are almost always asked during the intermezzo. The reason is, said chef Gianfranco, that coming here requires special attitude, motivation, organization. So the experience begins with the decision to come. If we were in Sofia, for example, and you had us around the corner, it would never be the same feeling, he explains. We can’t help but agree.

The topic about the food quantity and quality is quite interesting. Chef Gianfranco explained that the quantity and nutritional value of portions are carefully selected, in order to provide the necessary nutrition in a balanced way. The total weight of the 10-course menu is around 800 grams per person, so there is no way you leave hungry or feel overloaded. Another expression of the sustainability concept and zero-waste policy.

The risotto

After the break, we go back to the chef’s Italian roots and are served risotto. It has Yambol saffron, duck cracklings and 24-karat edible gold. This turns out to be one of Mimi’s favorite dishes of the evening. Deep-fried duck cracklings give an extremely delicate and smoky taste, and saffron is an aroma that always brings joy and peace.

Saffron risotto with duck cracklings
Saffron risotto with duck cracklings

Phoenix ​​- Bulgarian onion soup and Yagorida wine

In ancient times, onions were called the food of the poor, although they were also grown in the gardens of kings. In a similar way there were the “grapes of the poor” – the tiny bunches at the top of the vine, which never manage to ripen and in most cases are left on the vine during the grape harvest. Today, these two products are resurrected, shake off the stereotypes with which they are burdened, and come together in an exciting combination of onion soup and wine, worthy of any royal table. Chef Gianfranco has prepared for us a Bulgarian variation of onion soup, which we choose to combine with one of the most exciting red wines – Villa Melnik’s Jagorida .

Yagorida are precisely those tiny bunches of grapes that you will see left alone after the harvest, in most cases unripe. In the devastating hailstorm of 2015, however, when Villa Melnik lost 75% of the grapes on its vines, these little treasures took on the full power of the vines and managed to yield wine, albeit a small amount. This wine is Jagorida . Extremely dense, velvety, with aromas of leather, tobacco, cherries and other red fruits, but with a fresh aftertaste. A wine that will probably never be repeated and is worth a try. A symbol of the vine’s unquenchable desire for life. 

Now back to the onion soup. It is inspired by the French onion soup, but with onions from Belitza and caramelized shallots from Grandma Tanya. The traditional anise notes and distinct sweetness are achieved with the herb licorice (or liquorice). The sensation is like a delicate soufflé, flowing blissfully in the mouth and leaving a sweet aftertaste. We joke that it can also be served as a warm dessert (and why not?!).

French Onion Soup – one of the most exciting dishes of the evening
French Onion Soup – one of the most exciting dishes of the evening

The most tender duck breast

Tonight we were quite impressed that one of the main proteins in the menu this evening is duck. A product that can easily be grown in Bulgaria. Chef Gianfranco obviously appreciated the qualities of Bulgarian duck, which makes us really happy. Today the duck magret comes with apricot jelly, ashed potato with biochar, beetroot and celeriac caramel.

Duck breast with apricot jelly and ashed potato
Duck breast with apricot jelly and ashed potato

If you don’t know exactly what they are serving you, you might think that magret is actually liver or pate. It’s so soft and melting, almost creamy, with a fruity freshness for a perfect finish.

Desserts from the garden

Do you like the aroma of baked apples in the winter, or fresh green peppers in the summer, munching on cheese? These two tastes, which everyone in Bulgaria remembers from childhood, arrive at the table with the two desserts.

The first one is wild fermented apple – one of those tiny wild apples that drop in the gardens and streets in the autumn but no one picks. For chef Chef Gianfranco they are a treasure. He fermented the full fruits them for 288 hours. Garnished with Melnik Rose wine balsamico gelee and Rhodope sheep Chantilly cream. The applea have turned into soft tender cream, smelling like home. Yes, the Bulgarian taste is here.

Fermented apple with sheep's milk cream and rosé wine jelly
Fermented apple with sheep’s milk cream and rosé wine jelly

Finally, we have zabaione with brandy, pistachios and green pepper ice cream . The taste of summer is here!

Zabaione is a traditional Italian dessert that is usually made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. Here the version is with dzhanka rakia (brandy).

Zabaione with brandy and green pepper ice cream
Zabaione with brandy and green pepper ice cream

The sustainable route of DIECI in Bulgaria

After the end of the menu, we can’t help but start a conversation about Bulgaria, the sustainable Bulgarian route of DIECI and the Chiarini family. Chef Gianfranco reveals a secret – soon he will be eligible for a Bulgarian passport and is looking forward to become a full citizen of our country. We asked why he wants to do this. He answered that he wants to participate more actively in local life in the region, help for the development of the area and his village and make it a more comfortable place to live, still preserving the quietness and closeness to nature for which Devino is known.

It is quite obvious that the Chiarini family are determined to stay in Bulgaria. And even if it sounds unbelievable, DIECI is becoming more and more Bulgarian place. Chefs Gianfranco and Anna are more and more enthusiastic to collaborate with Bulgarian chefs and partners, to search and find better Bulgarian products and create the sustainable Bulgarian cuisine of the future.

The funniest and at the same time almost sad part of the visit to Dieci - the photos before leaving.
The funniest and at the same time almost sad part of the visit to Dieci – the photos before leaving.

In March 2023, the first of a series of books about the life and work of the Chiarini family in Bulgaria was published. It is called Dieci – One of a Kind and we have told more about it in this article . You can order it online or pick it up at the restaurant on your next visit.

Dieci - One of a Kind - Dieci's book
Dieci – One of a Kind – Dieci’s book

Follow us: Instagram and Facebook

Subscribe to our English newsletter

* indicates required

Copyrighted Image