Fine dining in Piedmont at reasonable price
Normally we go for the smaller and less pricey osterie and trattorie, which this area of Italy abounds in, and our guests love, however we decided to try out a more fancy and elegant restaurant as a treat for us and to share with forum readers
The Enoteca Restaurant, as the name implies, is co-located with the Enoteca Regionale di Roero, in Canale, around 20 minutes from our house on the scenic back road between Asti and Alba. The Roero, as you may know, is the other central Piedmontese wine area on the west of the Tanaro river, not as famous as the Langhe and Monferrato but producing good (and reasonably cost) wines such as Roero Arneis (white), Nebbiolo d’Alba (red), Barbera’s (both d’Alba and d’Asti) and Bonarda (Cisterna d’Asti DOC).
The restaurant is on the first floor of the Enoteca building, in the centre of Canale, next to the old porticoed Via Roma shopping street. The decor is quite modern and elegant, although I personally prefer more traditional (rustic) styles.
Rina decided to have the menu degustazione classico and Tim elected to go with a menu selection. On special that day was a mixed sashimi antipasti, which was tempting, but we decided that we wanted to try out the Piedmontese specialities. Here are out tasting memories:
* A selection of mixed antipasti tidbits, including a delicious and palate cleansing shrimp cocktail with fresh made tomato sauce, and a cone of goat’s cheese flavoured with blueberry.
* “Il Fassone dalla testa ai piedi” literally a selection of meats from head to toe : 3 slices of tongue – loved it; tripes, shredded with a smear of green sauce, I wouldn’t have even known what it was without asking; carne crudo, not usually my preference, but it literally melted in my mouth; prosciutto type of belly meat marinated in mustard and lastly the hoof made into a jelly and deepfried, this was so good.
* “Calamari aglio-olio e peporoncino, polenta bianca grezza”, very simple, yet the calamari was exquisitely soft and mouth melting sitting on a bed of white polenta making a great combination.
* Ravioli stuffed with 3 types of meat, beautiful presentation, wrapped in a lace napkin and served with a cup of most delicious broth (Rina even drank the leftover!).
* “Due ravioli in due servizio”. Two ravioli courses both with liquid (melted) fillings, first one with pesto - really a tortellini which as you bite into releases an explosion of sumptuous liquid pesto, the second with Blue Moncenisio cheese in a chocolate-coloured grano di carube (Sicilian) shell, and perfectly offset by the pieces of pear and almond.
* “Costato di manzo, midollo, pinole tartin di cipoli” A treat for meat lovers, a solid piece of loin cooked between rare and medium the meat was so soft and tender, still pink in the middle and yet not chewy. The side dishes were carefully put together as one dish and a perfect accompaniment.
* “Insalata di piccione, porcini, mirtilli e fegato grasso affumiciati”, which was roasted slices of tender pigeon cooked to perfection, topped with smoked foie gras, sliced mushrooms and blueberries, a most interesting and rewarding combination.
Wine – as can be expected for an enoteca the wine list was extensive with a large range of Roero wines as well as a good selection from Piedmont and other regions. We chose 2 classic Roero wines:
* Roero Arnies 2006 Almondo Giovanni, with good perfume and acidity, but in our opinion not as good as some other Arneis we have had the pleasure to taste.
* Cisterna d’Asti Superiore 2003 La Pergola. We love a good Bonarda, however this one had been oaked in new barrels, which had killed any taste of the fruit.
We felt we could have made a better selection and were not really able to communicate to the wine waiter what we really wanted:
* “Sformata Gianduja con Crema Menthe”, a little crusty for my taste, could have been moister, but a good combination with the mint cream sauce.
* “Crema e Gelato alle nocciole zabiglione soffice” – to die for!
[i]Vino Arneis Passito 2001, - excellent desert wine, the first time we have tried an Arneis Passito, although there was a faint raisin taste reminiscent of Sicilian Moscato rather then a true botrytis wine.
Overall the timing between courses was excellent, as was the presentation, the waiters were attentive and helpful (including some who speak a little English). We didn’t fell overstuffed and tipsy when we left. The bill was 175 euro, more then we would pay at a trattorie, but in keeping with the class of restaurant and the meal.
Footnote; since we quite full after this big lunch that we came home via nearby Cisterna d’Asti, a very pretty and scenic hilltop town, dominated by a medieval castle, which has a great collection of old artisan workshops donated by the descendants of the old trade families. Well worth seeing and open every afternoon.
Via Roma 57, Canale (CN), Piemonte 12043, IT
Hi Barberinbee, well actually I am a not overly strict vegetarian, I love seafood and eat fowl on occasion but never red meat except purely for scientific reasons such as if Rina (who is an unabashed carnivore) is having culatello or something exceptional; , then I will take a nibble.