Piedmont/ Le Langhe, Piedmont experts and lovers, please advise re my choices ...
I've done as much research here, on Egullet, elsewhere on the Web and in the infallible (IMHO) Osterie D'italia as I can think to do, and here is where I am coming out for an end of September trip (pre-truffle season). We've spent a lot of time eating through many other regions of Italy over the years, but this will be our first trip to the Langhe.
In general, we prefer traditional style cooking, albeit in places with warm (don't care whether it is casual or formal) service and a good wine list. Price isn't that important, but value is. Hence, I've had to make some tough choices (e.g., no Piazza Duomo or Ciau del Tornevento, or even the version of Guido at our hotel in Santo Stefano Belbo), but I would love to hear from the group about the following, and I've noted in a few places where i feel like i have not been able to get an accurate read on the place from my research. Also, we tend to may make lunch the larger, grander meal, but of course will adjust to suit the establishement.
Lunch - Boccondivino in Bra
Dinner -- del Belbo da Bardon, San Marzano Oliveto/Valle Asinari
Day 2 --
Lunch -- Marsupino Briaglie (after the morning visiting Cuneo)
Dinner -- Lalibera , Alba
Lunch Vignaiola, La Morra (or should we choose I Bologna in Rocchetta Tanaro, or Bovio in La Morra? --see day 4)
Dinner Antine - Barbaresco
Lunch -- Il Centro, Alba (here is a one that i have not seen recent reliable posts on; back a few years ago, many posters loved it and other thought is might be riding on its laurels; would love to hear from anybody who has visited it lately.)
Would we better off at the new Bovio ristorante in La Morra (the former operators of the Belvedere)?
Here is a glowing review i found
DInner -- Tratoria della Posta, Monforte d'Alba
In La Morra, I would go with Vignaiola -- we ate there and enjoyed it immensely.
Not to make you make more decisions, but I thought the restaurant at the agriturismo hotel Ca 'de Lupo (http://www.agriturismo.net/montelupo-...) was excellent. It's up in the hills, about 10-15 minutes south of Alba, past Diana d' Alba.
Go to Cascinale Nuovo in Isola d'Asti. 20 minutes fro Alba. Wonderful cooking, great wine list, service superb. No tourists. The real thing.
If you are staying at the Relais San Maurizo, IMO La Libera is too far to drive back at night, I would switch to a lunch visit. And the same for Trattoria della Posta.
Stick to going to the further places for lunch, and closer in for dinner if you don't want to be navigating unfamiliar hilly roads at night after a bottle of vino!
Barbaresco is close enough, I personally favour Rabaja, but Antine scores higher in the restaurant guides - whatever that means.
No idea about Bovio, too new for me, but Vignaiolo is superb for lunch.
I Bologna is another highly rated restaurant, again a lunch time pick.If you are coming up to the Asti area, I would favour La Tacabanda in the old town next to the Teatro Alfiero.
Bardon is close enough for dinner, and another wonderful little restaurant is La Stazione right in Santo Stephano. I found it better then Guido's in the Relais (and much cheaper). Also try the Trattorie della Posta "Da Canulin" in nearby Cossano Belbo.
I still don't understand why folks coming to a region like Piedmont, so rich in little mom and pop osterie and trattorie want to have their whole eating itinerary mapped out in advance. With one or two exceptions its very hard to go wrong here.
we're back and had (of course) a great trip. i will post a separate quick brief on where we ended up and which were better than others; none was bad (as Villasam notes, that seems unlikley). And, Villasam, as surely you understand, it isn't (at least in so much if Italy it isn't likely) a question of "going wrong;" for many (me included) planning is a key part of the enjoyment of the trip; also avoids consuming valuable time while on the trip.
re: kirk in NY
Yes I understand your point of view, however I think flexibility is the key in any place, plus there are many more places then just the ones you read about on these and other forums.Of course its nice to have some ideas before you arrive, but I also I like to ask the locals when I arrive at a place.
And as for not wasting time, well you are on holiday? Sometimes prospecting off the beaten track can produce real gems !
We have lived here for two years, and we've eaten at many of the great places mentioned above - Bovio, Belvedere, and Il Vigneto in Roddi stand out, in our opinions. In fact - you can't go wrong with just about anyplace called "Ristorante" or "Osteria" in the region. If forced to pick - I'd go with Bovio in LaMorra - on a clear day - it's downright perfect.
We're planning to eat lunch at l'Osteria Vignaiolo in Santa Maria / La Morra tomorrow - we'll tell you how it goes... unless we find another hidden gem.