Saturday, November 10, 2012

What I'd say about Restaurants in the Piemonte

Several emails have come in inquiring about restaurants in the Piemonte. And that makes sense. If you read this blog you probably already know which wineries to visit on a trip there. But what about dinner? I might be able to help you. You like to eat, I like to eat. You need your places, I have my places. So let's talk.

I would just mention that this is a personal list. These are the dining rooms that I have been to. There are plenty of other places where I haven't been yet. Felicin. Brezza. Osteria Veglio. Schiavenza. Haven't been to those. Sorry. But I can tell you about where I have dined, and maybe you can add a comment of your own at the end of the post if you would like.

 Monforte has a few restaurants worth mentioning.

If it's just a cappuccino you want, I'd recommend you to the friendly confines of Osteria Berta.

For lunch, Osteria La Salita has a cozy downstairs cafe and an airy upstairs dining room. I enjoy it there during the day when the sunlight streams in the windows.
Like everywhere else in the area the menu is meat heavy, but not in an overbearing way, and I'd say that while the dishes skew traditional, the plating skews modern. There are plenty of reds from the region on the wine list, but these is also plenty of Champers. The Piemontese love bubbles. And the prices at Salita are fair.

Nearby, Le Case della Saracca occupies a grouping of renovated medieval stone structures.

The sliced ham plates are what you want to order at La Saracca. There are a host of Barolo, many from Monforte and some with age, to go with them. And also much Champagne. La Saracca, which is not open for lunch, is really a bar scene, and very much happening later in the evening.

Giulio is the owner of La Saracca, and if you get a chance, you should try the Chinato he made in partnership with Conterno-Fantino. They are happy to pour you some at the bar.

For a full on dinner, Monforte's best option may be Trattoria della Posta.

It is a well appointed dining room, and the food can be excellent.

This veal and porcini dish was one of the best things I have ever eaten in the Piemonte.

There is quite a bit of Barolo on the wine list, and a fully stocked shelf of options for afterwards.

If you ask, there might even be a surprise or two on offer as well.

If you find yourself in Castiglione Falletto, instead of Monforte, there is also an excellent restaurant nearby, called Le Torri.

The room is classically elegant, the cellar is well stocked, the service is friendly, and the food is delicious.

This mushroom amuse was especially memorable, but the oversize agnolotti del plin are also very good, and there is offal if you want it. Le Torri is open for both lunch and dinner.

If you are in La Morra, one of the better options, especially for lunch on a sunny day al fresco, is Bovio.

The view is gorgeous. You may find the service somewhat formal.

The food offered is a mix of the traditional and also the modern. There is an excellent cheese cart. Also, did I mention that the view is gorgeous?

In Santa Maria there is L'Osteria del Vignaiolo, which is open for lunch and dinner. It is a seemingly popular place to go, although I haven't found the food to be particularly memorable.

That being said, the panna cotta at Vignaiolo is delicious. I suspect that whatever dairy source they are using is superior to what you might find in New York.

In Serralunga, near the tower, you can find a simple lunch and a well edited list of Barolo and Champagne at Centro Storico.

It is a casual atmosphere, but the list of wines on offer would appeal to anybody who is serious about wine.

If you are in Barolo, you might go to dinner at Buon Padre, which is owned by the same family as the Cantina Viberti winery. I don't have any pictures to share from there for some reason, but I do recall an excellent vitello tonnato.

Buon Padre isn't open for lunch, though, so if you are hungry during the day in Barolo I would actually send you to the humble cafe around the corner from the Bartolo Mascarello cantina. It is only salads and sandwiches on offer there, but the food is good, the birra is cold, and you can sit outside on a nice day.

For dinner up in Verduno there is Il Falstaff.

Chef Franco offers tastings menus of well thought out, innovative dishes.

If you hunt through the Falstaff cellar you can definitely drink well with your meal, but be sure to save room for grappa.

There are several options to choose from.

A casual lunch in Verduno might call for Ca del Re.

The surroundings are pleasant.

And the salumi washed with Pelaverga is a house specialty.

Near the Church of San Michele in Verduno there is a small wine bar. It is closed as often as it is open, but if you catch it at the right moment there are a number of wines on offer from the small producers of the region.

Out in Barbaresco, near the tower, there is Antica Torre.

It is one of the more well known and popular venues in the region.

I would recommend sitting outside, if you get the chance.

There are plenty of local wines on offer, and not just the B words, either. In the habit of drinking sparkling Freisa? You can do that here.

The Tajarin is a house specialty, apparently.

I myself preferred the Agnolotti, though.

There is also a traditional antipasti sampler that lets you try a few different classics all at once.

For a bit more of a humble lunch in the Barbaresco area, you might do well to go to Solo Nebbiolo.
The salads there are plenty big enough to share.

And the platter of mixed cheese and meats is plenty delicious. If you do go, I would suggest one of the tables outside, weather permitting.

Ristorante Rabaya can be a pleasant option at dinner time.
And the view from the Rabaya deck is nice.

Especially as the sun goes down.

The waiter there does all the wine as well, so you should talk to him about what you want to drink. They have some interesting after dinner spirits on offer there also. In terms of food, I would suggest that you stay to the traditional in your choices.

These small Agnolotti del Plin at Rabaya were excellent, in fact this was one of the better renditions of that dish that I have had in the Piemonte.

I have been to Ristorante Antine in Barbaresco, but it has been several years since my last visit. I do remember liking the place quite a bit at that time. Likewise, I have not been to La Ciau del Tornavento in almost a decade. I remember it had a spacious deck, big oval tables, and a long wine list. I imagine it would not be inexpensive today.

Further afield, there is Del Belbo da Bardon in Nizza Monferrato, which may well be my favorite restaurant in the Piemonte. Everything about that place is great, including the friendly service staff.

Which isn't to overlook the food, which is rustic, hearty, and real.

The pasta servings at Bardon are big, so come hungry.

The rabbit was delicious, and very well suited to the drinking of Barolo, which you should do at Bardon because there are many tempting options on the list.

But don't skip the whites. Earlier this year we drank this Les Cretes Petite Arvine 2005 for basically pennies. That's right, 2005! You can never find whites like this with any serious age on them in New York. In Piemonte, at Bardon, they give them away. And the Petite Arvine was deeee - lish.

There is plenty else to drink besides. Like old, old, old label Cynar.

Or one of these guys. Neither of which is easy to find stateside, I might add.

There is also a big cellar to be found out in Priocca, near the church, at Ristorante il Centro.

 Getting out there is a bit of a drive, but it's worth it.

There is plenty to drink once you arrive.

The menu offers dishes that may seem like counter intuitive jumbles until you try them. The flavors actually work beautifully together.

This is definitely the best modern style cuisine that I have had in the Piemonte.

And of course, there are digestivi on offer there as well. Old label Braulio, anyone?

I should mention Ristorante Guido in Pollenzo, but it has been many years since I was there. I remember a stylish room and stylish food that I enjoyed.

I wish you all good eating on your travels!

1 comment:

Max Kogod said...

Levi's recommendations were tremendous for my Piemonte visit last week.

Le Case della Saracca was a great place to have some glasses or bottles late at night, and the scene is lively and goes quite late. I did not order any food off the menu, but they do have an antipasti buffet of sorts at the bar.

Trattoria della Posta was Excellent for lunch when I visited, and the staff was incredibly warm and attentive.

I had a pleasant dinner at L'Osteria del Vignaiolo, but I agree with Levi about the food.

Le Torri was very, very good and the view is fabulous.

I wish I was able to visit more restaurants that Levi detailed in his email. The upside is that next trip to Piemont, my restaurant visits are all squared away.

Thanks again, Levi, for the recommendations!