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Piemonte Restaurants

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Up to Piemonte for the weekend. Three very good meals, two dinners and a lunch. Then down to Liguria, for another lunch in Varigotti (see next post).

Diner at La Torre (under the arches) in Cherasco. Wonderful trattoria seating about 30. Good eclectic (recited) menu changing often. Many traditional Piemontese dishes as well as ones that are traditional but you just don't see anymore. Very careful and thoughtful preparations. Not the usual Piemontese trattoria. Great wine list, very reasonably priced. Wonderful dining room personality. Dining room full, all Italians except for us (no foreigners go to Cherasco in February, particularly at night). Here's what we had: gnocchi al castelmagno; tajarin col sumo classico - vitello e fegatini di pollo; pancetta di maiale glassato in forno con verdura; piatto di formaggi; semifreddo al zabaglione; bunet. A particular comment on the pancetta di maiale. An old, old Piemontese dish that we've never seen before in a restaurant . Rich, rich rich, with all the fat that your cardiologist never wanted you to have. Absolutely incredible dish. Had a 2005 Barolo Elio Altare to drink.

Lunch the next day at Osteria Veglio in Annunziata. I know some on this board much prefer Il Vignaiolo in Santa Maria, about three km. up the hill toward La Morra. We don't. For us there is no comparison. The ownership presence in the dining room is much better here as the two sisters are animated, engaging and in general don't appear to lose a step even with a full dining room (that is not the case at Vignaiolo). The dining room itself is more open, the tables spaced better and the decoration is more comfortable; the felling is one of warmth.

The most important difference is in the quality and preparation of the food. Even the bread (how do they make those addictive rolls? a triple rise?) In our opinion, the preparation is clearly superior here, as are the ingredients used. It does cost more (probably by a third), but well worth it. Had: carciofi croccanti, puree di ceci sopra un letto di spinaci, fonduta leggera; tajarin con sugo di carne; ravioli del plin cotto in brodo e serviti al tovagliolo; Coniglio con olive, the coniglio being a good example of the difference in the quality between here and Vignaiolo. A 2006 Mauro Veglio barbera. Very good wine list, reasonably priced (and with some 1996 and 2000 Baroli still on the list). A very good (written) menu. I don't mean to disparage Vignaiolo. It is a fine trattoria. We think this is better.

Dinner: A great meal at Il Centro in Priocca. Our first time there, but we hope to be back in a few weeks. For us, on par with Cascinalenuovo in Isola D'Asti and Locanda nel Borgo Antinco outside of Barolo as far as cooking skill, although all three are different from each other in many ways. The skill level is the same.

Enrico Cordero is the perfect patron. Warm, gregarious, solicitous when called for, just right for the role he inherited. He is unfazed and even with a full room of about 50, recited the menu over and over to his clients... with patience that was admirable. His wife, Elide, runs a superb kitchen. The room was full, all Italians except for us. Beautifully done room, with some original art deco touches. The menu (recited by Enrico) changes often, and is again (at least this past Saturday), a mix of traditional dishes and ones you rarely see i.e. the finanziera of capretto; finanziera of veal one sees once in a while, but capretto rarely. Here's what we had, which gives a good indication of the type of food to expect. Three antipasti - vitello cotto al sale, thinly sliced and served with a capered maionese (Salsa Cavour); fresh cod lightly cooked, served with olives, anchovies and tomato; cabbage stuffed with meat/ sausage served on a puree of Jerusalem artichokes. For primi ,tajarin with a sauce of coniglio; agnolotti stuffed with red potatoes (un-peeled) and fish. For the secondo, finanziera di capretto; very, very rich and absolutely wonderful. As far as offal goes, this was the best I've had in Italy (have had some better/different ones in France, because the French really know how to do finanziera). For dessert, semifreddo di torrone; crema di limone. A 2006 Pomorosso Barbera to drink. Wonderful meal and service and a feeling that they were happy to be there and were happy you were there as well.

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La Torre
via Garibaldi,13, Cherasco CN, Piedmont 12062, IT

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  1. Great stuff. We had some guests who were rudely served at Veglio so we tend to pass it by in favour of Vignaiolo. Can't say I care for finanziera in any form :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Villasampaguita

      Or for dinner, continue up the hill from Annunziata toward La Morra to Ristorante Bovio. Bovio once owned Ristorante Belvedere in La Morra, sold it a few years ago, and built his new ristorante. Fabulous food, wine, attention/service--and views. Suggestion--have them do the wine pairings for the courses.

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      Bovio
      Via Alba, 17, La Morra (Cuneo), Piedmont 12064, IT

    2. Thanks for the post. Glad to see you got to Cherasco, which is a charming town that slips below the radar of too many tourists. Osteria La Rosa Rossa is also a good choice for dining in Cherasco. There is also a candy shop there that makes delicious roasted, chopped hazelnuts covered in dark chocolate.

      11 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        Up to Piemonte again. Another two wonderful meals at Il Centro in Priocca and Osteria Veglio in Annunziata.

        We wanted to see if both of these places held up after our initial visit to both of them two months ago. Both did. Il Centro is simply spectacular with what has to be the best wine list we've seen around Alba. Page after page after page of Barolos and Barbarescos, all the great years at very reasonable prices. On Saturday we had a 2004 Elio Altare Barolo Arborina.

        For lunch on Saturday in La Morra (after walking up and down in the vineyards for 3 1/2 hours) we went, for the first time, to More and Machine, an osteria serving simple but very good dishes (including wonderful bread which they bake themselves) and with an excellent cantina (and many wines by the glass). It serves from 11 in the morning straight through to midnight. Opened two years ago it is a great place to eat lightly between two dinners.

        1. re: allende

          Thanks very much Allende. I am working on plans for Alba in September, and Il Centro has been on my list, but I have not been able to find recent reports. Now I will definitely plan on it. Any idea how far in advance I need to reserve?

          1. re: allende

            Thanks for the heads up Allende, have heard good things about Il Centro too and since its about 15 -20 minutes from us, will put it on the long list of places to check out when we have time to eat out :-)

            1. re: Villasampaguita

              @rrems
              A week in advance is fine for reservations.

              1. re: allende

                Another three day trip to Piemonte.

                La Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe.

                Our first time here. A very nice country trattoria. Two brothers in the dining room; the third cooking. Warm welcome, good service. Pleasant place. A very good wine list. So, why won’t we be back? Because while the food was good, there was absolutely nothing special in term of taste. Most of the food was bland tasting. There are many trattorie up here in Piemonte that offer a whole lot more in terms of the intensity of the flavors of the ingredients. For example, the filling of the plin ripieni di Coniglio was bland, the pasta itself was good, but nothing more. The soufflé di asparagi was very rich and good, but had no particular character. The agnello disossato and the merluzzo fresco were fine, but again the agnello lacked an intensity of flavor. We had a fantastic Barolo, a 1999 Luciano Sandrone Cannubi; price was 160 Euros, but a spectacular wine. Total cost for dinner was 244 Euros.

                Again, nothing wrong with Coccinella, but we left feeling that we’ve had much better trattorie meals in this part of Piemonte. One example would be Osteria Veglio in Annunziata and another, would be, believe it or not, Osteria dei Boccodivino in Bra; both would be more appealing in terms of food. No way it deserves its score in Gambero Rosso.

                Antica Corona Reale, “Da Renzo”, in Cervere.

                To paraphrase The Drifters, “This Magic Moment… It Took Me By Surprise”

                That’s the only way to describe dinner at Da Renzo”. We had been here half a dozen times over the last 20 years, but had not gone in the last five.

                On this blog and egullet there have been a number of less than flattering reviews (even though that did not show up in the comments from Gambero Rosso and L’Espresso). Additionally, the restaurant got its second Michelin star. We don’t pay much attention to that, but in Italy it is a very big jump. Typically, restaurants which get a second star have a tendency to do two things: the service becomes full of pomp and nonsense; a chef starts reaching for dishes that he/she has no capability of carrying out well. We’ve seen this over and over again during the past 37 years. The owner “tries to keep up” with whatever he/she thinks the Michelin wants it to keep up with. In other words, the restaurant loses it soul. So we went to Antico Corona with more than a bit of trepidation.

                We don’t know what the negative reviews were about. For us, Da Renzo was even better than it had been during our prior six times there. This could have been close to the perfect meal… no exaggeration. From the warm greeting, to the taste of the food and the plating of the dishes, to the extensive and reasonably priced wine list (no jack up of prices to take advantage of the second star) to the impeccable (but not stiff and formal) service which had a pace that was impressive (not too fast and not too slow with everything done unobtrusively and smoothly) throughout the meal, it was all one could ask. No attitude, no fawning, just polite gracious service. If only other restaurants could do the same

                It was warm enough to sit outside in the lovely cortile; it stayed light outside until 10:15. There were a total of ten other people (four tables) and an additional seven tables were set so that there was a feeling of “fullness” in the cortile.

                We started with an amuese that most non Italian worldly restaurant goers would never understand. One serving platter had the sweetest prosciutto from San Daniele and the other platter had hard boiled eggs with an insalata di Russie. Great whole wheat grissini and light as air, whole wheat foccacia. Excellent, make that very excellent, bread and rolls.

                From the extensive and sensible menu (no fusion; these were all dishes from Piemonte), we chose cappeletti di faraona and tortelli di asparagi. The filling of the cappeletti was intense, wonderfully gamy and the pasta was as light as a feather, bathed very gently in the cooking jus from the bird. The tortelli filling tasted of Spring and there was a scattering of asparagus with melted butter on top of the tortelli. Plating was interesting; he doesn’t fool around. There was no sprinkling of parsley (or any other cut up vegetables) around the plate to fill it up. It was an unadorned plate of tortelli and one of cappeletti but beautifully presented.

                For secondi we had lumache di Cherasco con ortiche, again very intense flavor with lots of greens to offset the richness. I had piccione, partially disossato. I’ve had great pigeon before, many times, mostly in France. Nothing compares with what I had. The meat was bordering on gamy, almost as if it were wild rather than Da Renzo’s own domesticated breed. Cooked perfectly, crisp outside, rare inside, “disossatoed” perfectly.

                For dessert, a “sentiero di Langhe” which was a plate of six different chocolate, nocciola or caramel pastries, all different, all exquisite. Clearly, Da Renzo’s pasticciere was trained in France because no Italian can do pastry like that without French training. I had a zuppetta di frutta. Seasonal fruits and berries with a very light sweet/acidic syrup. Perfect. Loads and loads of wonderful petit fours rounded out dinner. We had a 2006 Giacomo Conterno Barbera “Francia.” The check was 170 Euros including 45 Euros for the wine.

                The whole evening was one of pleasantness. This is not a restaurant where you go to pay homage to a brilliant chef to whom you’re supposed to genuflect (i.e. “it’s all about me, me, me and don’t you forget it and certainly my staff won’t let you forget it”). This was a restaurant where the chef knows that he is excellent and wants you to enjoy that excellence and his staff is there to see that you enjoy it and is also there to see that you are happy with your experience … all of which was the case on Thursday. Superb, excellent, fun, extraordinarily enjoyable… those are some of the words that come to mind. Go!

                Ristorante Bovio in La Morra

                We’ve wanted to go to Bovio ever since it moved down the road, but never had the chance. Additionally, a good friend, a Barolo owner in La Morra, said we should go. So we did. We’d go back, but not quickly and only if we wanted to go to a place in La Morra where we stay and only if we wanted to have the focus of the evening be on wine not food.

                A stunning location, just down from town. We were fortunate enough to be given one of the three tables in the main dining room which are right by the windows overlooking the vineyards. Breathtaking view as the sun went down. Spectacular. It was a bit chillier than the evening before, but there were a few hardy souls eating outside on the terrace. There were also some Dutch, Germans and Americans, inappropriately dressed. Why do they come to a restaurant like this in undershirts, athletic T shirts with logos on front and back and shorts? Needless to say, these people, while seated, were given tables by back walls, serving stations or in the back room.

                The food was, in most cases, good; some dishes better than others. There is very little personality here. Lack of smiles by “La Signora” and the rest of the wait staff. It wasn’t unfriendly, just neutral. Very un-Italian for a restaurant like this. The background music sounded as if it were from a radio station.

                The menu is large and well balanced. The wine list (some, but not all is on line) is stupendous… in fact that word doesn’t begin to describe it; even much better than Guido’s in the 1980s. Basically everything you could ever want from Piemonte producers, in all the right years and amazingly at very reasonable prices.

                You don’t go there for the food, although that is not to say that the food was bad. It wasn’t, it was good, just not good enough compared with other places of its ilk e.g. Cascinalenuovo in Isola d’Asti; Il Centro in Priocca; Locanda nel Borgo Antico outside of Barolo… and certainly Da Renzo in Cervere.

                Decided to skip the antipasti because we thought we’d have a cheese course… pretty sure it was going to be a night for two bottles of Barolo… it was. An amuse came, put down by the waiter who simply walked away. Nothing said about what it was (fried zucchini), just walked away. Poor training.

                I started with raviolini del plin ai tre arrosti. This is a dish I always order on my first visit to a restaurant in Piemonte to see how/if the restaurant can do pasta. In this case it was excellent, both the pasta and the filling which had a deep rich flavor. Similarly, my wife’s raviolini di sairass di pecora e agretti was delicious with the taste of the cheese totally addictive. For the main course, my wife had Bovio’s signature dish Capretto di Muraxxano al forno con verdure, which was good, and I had the filetto di Vitella con funghi porcini alla salvia, which was poor, both the quality of the vitella, the cooking of the vitella (dried out) and surprisingly the quality of the mushrooms, mediocre.

                For the cheese course, my wife had a selection which she said was good. I had just two, a Castelmagno and a local blue. A dried out, over the hill Castelmagno should never be on that carrello. Bread was mediocre as were the grissini.

                Total check 311 Euros including wine cost of 215. Two bottles: a 1999 Aldo Conterno Barolo “Cicala”; a 2004 Luciano Sandrone Barolo “Cannubi Boschis”. Both outstanding. The Sandrone is what dreams are made of.

                And for another take on Liebling’s “between meals”, one day for lunch at Osteria Veglio for pasta with spring vegetables, stuffed rabbit, lemon and mint sorbeto, fragole gratinatee and a couple of glasses of one of Mauro Veglio’s Baroli from right up the hill. Sitting on the terrace overlooking vineyard after vineyard (think, Corino, Altatre, Veglio among others) is special. The other lunch was at More and Machine, a delightful osteria right in La Morra that I’ve mentioned it before.

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                Bovio
                Via Alba, 17, La Morra (Cuneo), Piedmont 12064, IT

                1. re: allende

                  What a wonderful thread!
                  Adding the links

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                  Antica Corona Reale da Renzo
                  13 Via Fossano, Cervere (Cuneo), Piedmont 12040, IT

                  L'Osteria del Vignaiolo
                  Frazione Santa Maria, La Morra, Piemonte 12064, IT

                  Il Centro
                  Via Umberto I,8, Priocca, Piemonte 12040, IT

                  Osteria Veglio
                  Frazione Annunziata,9, La Morra, Piemonte 12064, IT

                  Osteria de la Rosa Rossa
                  Via San Pietro,31, Cherasco, Piemonte 12062, IT

                  Osteria More e macine
                  Via XX Settembre,18, La Morra,Cuneo, Piemonte 12064, IT

                  La Coccinella
                  Via Provinciale A,5, Serravalle Langhe, Piemonte 12050, IT

                  1. re: allende

                    Thanks for the update on Bovio which is as I understand run by the same folks as the old Belvedere on Piazza Castello in La Morra, which closed some years ago. I never ate at the old Belvedere but friend who did said it was past its glory days.

                    Why amuse bouche and not stuzzichini?

                    I am jealous of your wine budget!!

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                    Bovio
                    Via Alba, 17, La Morra (Cuneo), Piedmont 12064, IT

                    Trattoria Castello
                    Via Castello, 38, Serle Brescia, Lombardia 25080, IT

                    1. re: Villasampaguita

                      Belvedere was past its glory days by the early 80s. That's one of the reasons we never rushed to Bovio. We've decided that the next time we go to Bovio, probably in September, we'll each order an antipasto (which looked very interesting) and a primo and skip the secondo. And, of course, two bottles of Barolo.

                      In rereading my comments on alternatives to Coccinella, I mentioned Osteria Veglio and Osteria Boccodivino. I forgot to say that after Veglio, we would go to La Torre in cherasco.

                      I thought about using stuzzichini, but thought most people here wouldn't understand, with, of course, the exception of you and a few others. Mea culpa.

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                      Bovio
                      Via Alba, 17, La Morra (Cuneo), Piedmont 12064, IT

                      La Torre
                      via Garibaldi,13, Cherasco CN, Piedmont 12062, IT

                      Osteria Veglio
                      Frazione Annunziata,9, La Morra, Piemonte 12064, IT

                      1. re: allende

                        Time to start educating folks to use Italian names in Italy and not French, although I too am guilty of using cuisine instead of cucina :-)

                        1. re: Villasampaguita

                          We were up to Piemonte for three days. We ate at Il Centro in Priocca and at Antica Corona Reale "Da Renzo" in Cervere (see above). Once again, excellent meals at both. The care and attention to the food is extraordinary at both. Service is professional without being formal; they really try to please the customer. No attitude here! Both were well paced dinners lasting about 3 ½ hours. The menus at both, particularly at Priocca, change every day or two, so I’m not going to go into detail once again on what we ate. You can read the types of dishes in the reviews from last year (above).

                          I do want to make a few general comments. At Priocca, Enrico Cordero recites the menu; that is, he will tell you what dishes are available that day for all the courses… and there are many, many dishes available for each course. However, if you want something special, just ask and if the kitchen can handle it, he’ll be happy to oblige. He is that type of guy.

                          On another thread, there was a lot of conversation about favorites getting special dishes. I mentioned that at the restaurants that we enjoy, this never happens. A good example was Da Renzo. The great pigeon that I had last year was not on the menu. As she was about to take our orders, the server mentioned that they had just gotten in pigeons and if we wanted to have it (which two of the three of us did), the chef would be only too happy to oblige. We’ve been there a number of times, but in no sense are we regulars nor have we really gotten to know the owners as we have at many other “top” restaurants. They did not have to tell us that there was pigeon, but they did. Perhaps in Rome, one has to be a regular, but at the two star Michelin in Piemonte, you don’t.

                          A word about the wine list at both. Priocca has an extraordinary list (for us, second only to Bovio; I don't know what Guido still has... it used to be the top cellar for us). Ask to see the cellar after finishing your meal. It is simply unbelievable. Furthermore, Enrico’s prices are the most moderate of all the great restaurants that have fabulous lists. For example we drank a 2001 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc (100 Euros) and a 2004 Elio Altare Barolo Vigneto Arborino (150 Euros). Da Renzo’s list is as reasonably priced (we drank a 2004 Luciano Sandrone Barolo and a 2004 Giacomo Conterno Barolo). The Da Renzo list is a touch disappointing in that there are very few older baroli, particularly from 1999 and 1996, but that is a minor quibble. Both places were totally full on a Wednesday and Thursday evening respectively. Except for us and two tables of Germans at Priocca, all Italian customers.

                          We went to a new place (for us), but a place that has been around forever. Why we haven’t gotten there in the last 35 years is beyond me. We could have had all those great meals. The place is Da Bardon just outside of San Marzano Oliveto. It is about 6 km. from Canelli and perhaps 10 from Nizza Monferato.

                          Over a long period of time, we’ve been to a lot of great trattorie in Piemonte. None have come close to Bardon. We would go further and say we continue to go to extraordinary trattorie in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia. With one or two exceptions, nothing comes close to Bardon. Is this a first time “it always seems better than the second time” place. We really don’t think so. Every single thing about it is special. We can’t wait to go back (which hopefully will be in a few weeks).

                          It is set in the countryside and is family run. Brothers, sisters, parents, probably cousins. These people are the real deal. No other trattoria (and very few restaurants, if any) with great food comes close to this place in terms of a wine list (we had a 1999 Elio Altare Arborina Barolo and a 1996 Bruno Giacosa Cascina Francia Barolo), reasonably priced…for what it contained. Page after page of barolo, barbaresco and barbera.

                          We’re talking here about trattoria food, all traditional, but simply cooked with exquisite care. We’ve had great ravioli dal plin in the well over a hundred meals we’ve eaten in Piemonte over the years. Good ravioli in some trattorie, but the best have been in ristorante (Cascinalenuovo has been the standard for us). This version just blew us away. The pasta was very soft, very well trimmed and the filling was extremely intense. We’ve rarely had pasta this good and certainly not in a trattoria. That was just one dish. Whether it was the stinco di vitello arrosto, tagliatelle with asparagus, the vegatable flan or the vitello tonnato, the care and intensity of flavors was wonderful, reflecting the very high quality of ingredients. The menu is recited and there were about eight each of antipasti, primi and secondi and desserts. There was an excellent cheese selection.

                          The service is casual and friendly, but professional. The staff is very knowledgeable about the wine list and food. It is a lovely and comfortable dining room seating perhaps 60. In good weather tables are set outside. On a Friday for lunch, the room totally filled up with a combination of couples, businessmen and a number of people dining by themselves. A number of tables did not come in until 2:30. It was an excellent meal and a pleasant place. Highly recommended.

                          1. re: Villasampaguita

                            "Time to start educating folks to use Italian names in Italy and not French"

                            I couldn't agree more, but at least around these parts (Rome) Italians have abandoned stuzzichino, in the sense of amuse bouche, in favor of "appetizer", in English. Go figure. I'm sticking with stuzzichino as long as I can. Yes, that is appetizer as opposed to antipasto, which is still called antipasto.

            2. allende, thank you. Your enthusiasm encouraged us to seek out La Torre in Cherasco, and it was terrific! It's been added to our list of favorites, along with Il Centro, and La Rosa dei Vini in Parafada.

              50 Replies
              1. re: RWD

                Thanks for the post saying you enjoyed La Torre in Cherasco and Il Centro in Priocca. Responses like that (and negative responses as well), can certainly help more people, who are using this site, to make up their mind as to whether to go or not to go to a particular place.

                1. re: allende

                  We were up in Piemonte again and the vineyards were in full bloom in contrast to our last trip there four weeks ago when the flowering was just beginning. As clear as could be for all five days... very unusual. So clear, that the Alps in the far distance showed themselves in all their snow covered splendor.

                  Below are a few notes from the places where we ate and drank. You can look above, and on some other threads, for more extensive notes. These places are among our favorites in Piemonte. Really good food and wine lists, food carefully prepared using prime ingredients, pleasant surroundings, and excellent service (with no attitude). These are owners who very much care about their clientele having a very good food and wine experience... every time (no "off days").

                  La Torre in Cherasco. In a new spot a block away from the old place. More airy and spacious and lighter in feeling.
                  Same great food, menu changing every day. A great cheese trolley, not as good as Guido in the 80s or Miramonti l'Altro in Concesio today, but very good.
                  An osteria that cares about cheese. Excellent wine list (we had two baroli, a 2004 Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc and 2004 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia).

                  Il Centro in Priocca. Spectacular meal for the four of us. Enrico and his wife, Elide, are in top form. A wonderful full a la carte menu, but the really great thing is a trio of three antipasti (served separately) that change every day depending on what Elide wants to make. The three we had last week were salmon trout with vegetables; peas, asparagus and tiny pieces of rib all bathed in jus; quail legs with mushrooms. The three antipasti are substantial and coupled with the stuzzichini of zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese, sausage (from Bra) and vegetables, could have been a meal in and of itself...but. Tajarin, tortelli stuffed with ricotta and zucchini, risotto with totanetti, and a great cheese trolley later... Had two baroli :2001 Roberto Vorerzio Cerequio; 1996 Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc, both as good as it gets.

                  "Da Renzo" (Antica Corona Reale) in Cervere. Another magical night sitting out in the cortile. Totally full on a Thursday evening, all Italian except us. In many ways, the restaurant in Piemonte that I enjoy best. Great food (see my descriptions in other posts) in all courses (unusual for Italy to have all secondi very enticing and well prepared) including desserts, excellent service without the formality of a restaurant of its type, a wonderful setting particularly when sitting outside, and very moderate prices compared to many other restaurants of its level. The only weak spot is a wine list that could have a bit more depth in terms of baroli. Such a quibble :)

                  Osteria Veglio in Annunziata just below La Morra. It's always a treat to eat at Veglio, particularly sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the barolo vineyards as we did last Thursday for lunch. Tagliata of veal with Spring vegetables, minestra of Spring vegetables, an amaretti semifreddo and a 2007 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia barbera. Can't get much better than that. Elio Altare was having lunch and when he was gone, I walked over to see what he had been drinking. Not much of a surprise, his own 1986 Barolo.

                  Saturday evening at Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti. Dining room totally full, again all Italians, many locals who knew each other. Another great meal as has been the case many, many times during the last 25 plus years. Roberto in the dining room and Walter in the kitchen were in top form and both are as nice as can be. Tajarin with a ragu with fegatelli di piccione. Agnolotti "del Plin"... few make it better. Piccione. Millefoglie di lingua di vitello. A very good wine list. We had two barbarescos, a 2004 Bruno Giacosa Rabaja (160 Euros) and a 2004 La Spinetta Vigneto Starderi (120 Euros). Wonderful rooms to stay in, so you just walk upstairs after dinner.

                  1. re: allende

                    We were up in Piemonte again for a few days. Went to La Torre in Cherasco, Osteria Veglio in Annunziata (just below La Morra) and Borgo Antico, in the countryside about 5 km. south of the town of Barolo. I've written them up before, so this review will be short. All three meals were very good, each in it's own way.

                    Osteria Veglio. Unlike the last time a little more than two weeks ago, it was cloudy and windy so we didn't sit on the terrace. Basically the same menu as then with a few tweeks. Something that perhaps can help many of you who are either vegetarians or simply want a break from all that wonderful meat in and around the Alba area... Veglio always has seasonal vegetables on its menu in one form or other. And those vegetables have a lot of flavor and are cooked perfectly. There is always a minestra of seasonal vegetables. The other day there was also a millefoglie filled with cooked wild greens and a wonderful fondue. I had the tagliata of veal and the plate had perfectly cooked carrots, some late spring fennel and some fagiolini. My wife had a pasta with peas, asparagus and string beans. Another wonderful simple lunch with La Signora and the wait staff just as nice as can be. Note: for whatever reason, we enjoy Veglio more at lunch than dinner.

                    La Torre in Cherasco. The brothers have a good thing going in their new bright simply decorated quarters. The place was totally full on Thursday evening (40 or so covers), all Italians, some local businessmen, with just us and one other table of Americans. Excellent, reasonably priced wine list, great service, all the things I've mentioned before. Recited menu, perhaps seven each of antipasti, primi and secondi. The chef brother loves offal, so in addition to the financiera which always seems to be on the ever changing menu (totally different dishes from two weeks ago), there were both kidneys which I had, and sweetbreads. Lumache, guanciale, piede di maiale... you get the drift. But also the standards of the area: vitello tonnato, tajarin, plin etc. A great trattoria.

                    Borgo Antico. We had been there for the first time two years ago and had a very good, not great, dinner. We decided to see what we would think the second time. It was excellent in every way but one and we'll be back soon.

                    A lovely venue in the countryside, beautifully appointed. La Signora is welcoming and has trained her staff very well. They are professional, are friendly (without being overbearing), are extremely knowledgeable about the menu and wine list. The main dining room is spacious, seats about 40 and there is an adjacent enclosed terrace which is very attractive, but even though it opens on the dining room, seems a bit cut off from it. We sat there the first time, sat in the main room this time (we prefer it) and it was clear that most people would have preferred to have been seated on the terrace if they could. They couldn't as there are only five tables there. Perhaps 85% full on a Friday evening, all Italians, several diners known to the staff. A very pleasant feeling to the place.

                    A nicely balanced menu with perhaps a few dishes that didn't make complete sense (my only quibble). An excellent wine list reasonably priced. As one would imagine given its location, page after page after page of barolos. Almost as good a list as Bovio and with food 10 times as good. We had a 2004 Barbaresco La Spinetta Starderi, expensive but superb.

                    Massimo Camia is a very good chef, really very good. The ingredients are first rate, he treats them well and therefore creates dishes that have very strong flavors. His "plin" with exquisite pasta and filling is not to be believed. The intensity of the flavor says it all; it is a gem. Similarly, his tortelli stuffed with cheese from the Valcasotto is close to etherial... the whole thing, pasta and all, just melts in your mouth. Amuses included: Camia's riff on a Piemontese traditional dish, peppers stuffed with tuna salad... his was a puree of peppers with "tonnato" on top, served in a small glass; a hauntingly rich silky puree of potatoes (which would have made Robuchon proud) with a mound of foie gras on top; and other assorted tidbits... a little baccala here, some acciughe fresche fritte there. My wife had frittura di cervella della vitella for her main course and it was the highlight of the evening. I had the costata di agnello cotta sulla pietra (no sous vide here). No dessert, just cheese. And a wonderful listing of the cheeses available it was. And here is where that very well trained staff shows what it is all about. My wife had a full glass of the barbaresco left. I did not. I asked the head waiter/sommelier if I could perhaps have a glass of barbera with the cheese. Without batting an eye he said " but of course Mr. Allende." A minute later he came back with a bottle of Silvio Grasso's 2007 and said "would this be okay." Of course it would. He opened it, I drank it (about half a bottle), no charge. He was there to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. Seemless. Great food, excellent wine list, pleasant place and well trained staff... we'll be back often.

                    1. re: allende

                      Allende,

                      I am just catching up on Piemonte posts after several months. Your recent reports make me want to head straight to Dulles Airport to catch the next plane to Milano!

                      Your several reviews of Il Centro and Da Renzo were particularly welcome. I have a very soft spot for the food and wine of Piemonte, but putting my biases aside, I think these restaurants are unrivaled anywhere. The families of each are very special -- notably the Corderos (do you have their coffee table book -- good to have if you get desparate for tagliarin ).

                      As I do not expect to get back to Piemonte until next year, please keep your terrific commentary coming.

                      1. re: Peter Rodgers

                        As you so well said, the restaurants in Piemonte are unrivaled. The combination of great food, great wine and warm, knowledgeable, generous and caring restaurateurs is unique.

                        As we've gotten to know the Cordero family better and better, we, too, think they are very special, including the next generation.

                        There are so many great restaurants in such a small area, that it puts the countryside of France to shame (and I really enjoy the countryside of France). I'm only sorry that more visitors to Italy, who say they are really interested in food, don't go to Piemonte and enjoy what we have enjoyed for the last 35 years.

                        Thank you for your most kind comments.

                        1. re: allende

                          We scheduled a layover in Geneva on our way to Bergen Norway in order to drive down to Piemonte to visit a couple of the local restaurants. With just two nights in Alba we only had time to schedule reservations at All'Enoteca in Canale and lunch the next day in Cervere at Antica Corona Reale. 
                          Although we have been coming to Italy on and off for 30 years, this was our first visit to Piemonte. Dinner on Wednesday night in Canale at All'Enoteca. We arrived at 8:15 and were given our choice of tables on the open air veranda. The greeting from the staff was very warm and a few minutes later Davide Palluda,the chef/owner, stopped to chat and in the end we had the feeling that he was truly happy that we had come to dine there.
                          Although I really wanted to order the calamaretti  special and a secondo of Piccione with black truffle and mushrooms ,we both chose the 5 course short chef's surprise menu (75euros)and I ended up with both anyway. We also chose the 4 glass wine menu (25euros) to accompany the tasting menu. The menu was meant  to be two antipasto, a primi,a secondi, and desert. What we actually had were various stuzzichini  with a glass of spumante,then pepperoncini stuffed with tuna, a plate of three pesce crudo,sea bass, shredded hake with chives,and tuna, all drizzled with extra virgin oil with a glass of excellent Roero Arneis. Then red shrimp (from Liguria?) followed by calamaretti in green sauce , this time with a Ligurian white which I do not recall the name of but it was a perfect wine with the baby squid. A small plate of various mushrooms in a brown sauce was  followed by liquid beef  marrow baked in crisp flaky pastry served on a marrow bone accompanied by an excellent local Nebbiolo, Cascina Ca' Rossa Roero Audinaggio,actually our favorite wine that evening. Then a wonderful,gamy piccione disossato with summer black truffles and mushrooms served with a glass of Davide's own Barolo.  I chose three cheeses from those on offer and they poured me a glass of  local Barbera to help wash it down. A  desert of fresh peach and peach gelato followed by various small cookies and chocolates served with a nice Moscato rounded out the meal. I can say that I have not had a dinner that I have enjoyed so much since I last visited Arzak in San Sebastien several years ago. David Palluda is a creative chef who is at the top of his form. The quality of the ingredients and the flavors that he puts together are a real dining experience. He and his staff are both welcoming and generous and their hospitality is not to be missed If you are in the area.

                          1. re: Powers

                            We have not visited All'Enoteca for several years, but I too remember the chef as a charming man. It sounds like he is ramping up his cooking as well. How was your meal at Antica Corona?

                            1. re: Peter Rodgers

                              Sorry,Peter but I just flew in to Washington last night and am still a bit jet lagged. i will try to post about Antica Corona in the next couple days.

                              1. re: Powers

                                We had lunch Thursday at 1PM in Cervere at Antica Corona Reale.  Too hot to sit outside on the patio so we elected to have a table in a vaulted ceiling room inside, nice and cool. A warm greeting from  the young Japanese girl who served us. Not many other people there, only one family on the patio and a couple of other tables in a room adjacent to ours. Perhaps because the annual vacation closing was a few days away the owners did not greet us. We elected to have the tasting menu which consisted of two stuzzichini, a little cherry tomato tartlet and a grated vegetable salad with goat cheese,all the vegetables from their garden and both with good flavor. This was followed by  Fassone veal tartare with extra virgin oil and 36 month aged Parmigiano, a poached egg in zucchini sauce(really enjoyed this one), goat cheese ravioli with shredded zucchini from their farm, and rump steak of Fassone beef with a fine bread crumb crust served rare, all very good ingredients and flavors.  We wanted to try a 2004 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo but it was no longer available and the Japanese girl suggested instead a 2002 Massolino Vigna Rionda Barolo and insisted that although it was a difficult vintage , Massolino was able to produce an excellent wine. I would have to agree here with Allende that the wine list is a bit lacking in depth. Finished with a desert of two peaches dusted inside with chocolate served with cream, then various small sweets which we really had to leave untouched as it was too much. 

                                1. re: Powers

                                  If you live in DC, we should get together and talk about Piemonte.

                                  1. re: Peter Rodgers

                                    Thanks for the invitation, Peter. We live in Albemarle County,near Charlottesville. We usually only get as far east as Dulles, the closest international airport. If you are ever planning to be down this way,you are more than welcome to contact me and we can get together.

                              2. re: Peter Rodgers

                                All'Enoteca is one of our favourites and very good value for a fine dining restaurant

                                1. re: Villasampaguita

                                  This question is for Villasampaguita, Peter, Powers and jcrowne and any others on this thread who want to chime in -

                                  So my wife and I, using recommendations from Allende, have planned six meals in October: Bardon, Veglio, Il Centro, La Torre, Da Renzo, and Cascinalenuovo - we'll be there a week. I think we have room for another meal or two I'm trying to decide on a few more places.

                                  From my research, I'm interested in All'Enoteca, Borgo Antico, and San Marco. I know All'Enoteca is more 'fusion' than Allende cares for, but I thought it might make for a nice comparison on this trip. So I wanted to know to ask what people thought of these three - comparing them to one another in the context of adding 1 or 2 meals on to the core 6 that we already have. Thank!

                        2. re: allende

                          we were lucky enough to have lunch at Osteria Veglio followed by dinner at Borgo Antico this weekend.......to me an ideal combination of classic "old school" Italian and a more cutting edge version in the evening. The service could not have been more gracious at both places, the wine lists staggering, and the food as flavorful and beautifully presented as one could hope for....kudos to both restaurants, I HIGHLY recommend both.

                          1. re: jcrowne

                            @ jcrowne. Very glad you enjoyed Veglio and Borgo Antico. Next time, try my other recommendations; I think you might enjoy them as well.

                            I'm continuing to post on this thread, in order to try to keep all my Piemonte blogs (for whatever they're worth... perhaps not much) together. Sorry that you have to scroll down.

                            Up to Piemonte again. Another time at Da Bardon (see review above). Certainly for us, it is clear that this is the greatest trattoria in Piemonte. Everything about it is right. The food, the wine list, the service, the ambiance, the friendliness of the staff (all family), the physical place. The whole package.

                            Outside of the hamlet of San Marzano Oliveta, a few kilometers equidistant from Nizza Monferrato and Canelli, in the middle of nowhere. But what a nowhere.

                            Tuesday at lunch. All Italian clientele except for us. Mostly business people enjoying a leisurely lunch with lots of food and wine. Totally full (no recession here... actually a depression in Italy) in the outer room and two large tables in the inner room. The menu is recited and it changes all the time (was completely different from the spring).

                            What a wine list. 200 barolos; 150 barbarescos; 200 barberas and a ton of others at good prices. No other trattoria (and only two restaurants) that we're aware of in Italy come anywhere close to that wine list.

                            We had an '04 Giacosa Barbaresco (Rabaja). To start, the season's first truffles, a very large shaving with sunny-side up eggs... fantastic; a melanzane flan. Then rabbit al forno (excellent); the best plin that my wife said she has tasted in 30 plus years of coming to Piemonte; and an incredible cheese course from the trolley. Many other things offered: financiera; what looked like a wonderful bolito misto; guanciale; tripe; both a stinco di vitello and a stinco di maiale; several pastas and on and on.

                            Everything a trattoria should be. Just spectacular.

                            The photos below are: eggs with truffles; carving the stinco.

                             
                             
                            1. re: allende

                              And another photo of the dining room.

                               
                              1. re: allende

                                Presumably there is still the opportunity to have the truffle experience in Piemonte early November. Main reason to go there for now,as it will be a first time in that region for us.Where would you suggest staying in Piemonte so that driving back after a sumptous dinner is not so demanding? We will have 3 days in the area and will follow your thread as close as possible. Thank you.

                                1. re: towkay

                                  Let's assume you want to eat at some combination of Da Bardon, Centro in Priocca, La Torre in Cherasco, Cascinale in Isola D'Asti, Da Renzo in Cervere and Borgo Antico outside of Barolo (am not listing them in any special order)

                                  The best place to stay would be in Alba where there are a number of hotels. Alba is a wonderful city... a great walking city, just lovely (but just average restaurants so don't be tempted) and a perfect place so that driving back is no problem. Half an hour max to any of the places mentioned.

                                  We stay at a wonderful small place in La Morra, but if I give it out (assuming the moderators would let me) it would be overrun and my wife and I would never be able to get a reservation again.

                                  Definitely Alba over La Morra, in any case based on location and fun place to be for first time in Piemonte.

                                  Hope this helps a bit. Come back with any more questions.

                                  1. re: allende

                                    In my first post here, and in our first trip to Piemonte, wanted to thank the many posters on this board for their dedication to sharing their knowledge. Special thanks to allende and Villasampaguita for their frequent posts sharing their passion for the food and wine of Piemonte.

                                    Although we have been to Italy seven or eight times and have generally sought out good restaurants (relying on Gambero Rosso's cuisine score --- for we cannot really read Italian --- and Michelin), the focus of all previous trips were art, history and nature. This one is meant to be a two-week trip through Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna centred on food and wine.

                                    We had a couple of particularly busy months at work leading up to the trip and had not had the time to do the background "research" we would have liked. But the searches on CH proved to be so informative, we feel we have access to expert research.

                                    We arrived in Piemonte this past weekend, and have rented a house near Alba (in Scaparoni) for a week. This was the weekend of the Bachanal. Although thoroughly jet-lagged, walked about for some 6 hours on Saturday. The truffle market was fun and the evening had the atmosphere of an old village fair. Didn't buy any truffle, but did buy some superbly fresh pasta and porcini mushroom to cook.

                                    The plan for the rest of the week is to go for long lunches, then walk about for an hour or two to work off a bit of the food (more importantly, the vino) before driving back; and, if necessary, a "home"-cooked light dinner.

                                    So far, two great successes. A wonderful lunch on Sunday at Il Centro in Priocca. The menu degustazione had 3 antipasti (the cod particularly good), a primi (tajarin, with tartufo bianco at our request), a secondo (a very rich veal cheek), dolci. They also served a plate of seasonal vegetables at our request: so good that it was very nearly the highlight. As has been mentioned on this thread, an amazing wine list. Had a superb 1997 Elio Grasso Barolo at a price so reasonable for the quality that it was mildly baffling. We didn't even think about dinner.

                                    Today (Monday) a fine long lunch at Antica Corona Reale in Cervere. The highlight was the secondo: an egg and cheese dish redolent with tartufo bianco, showing how good the combination is for trapping the aroma of truffle, compared with topping pasta or crudo with sliced truffle. As others have remarked, the wine list is not in the same league as the list in Il Centro. But an elegant 2004 Silvio Grasso Barolo from La Morra matched the food well. (We were debating between that and a 2004 Luciano Sandrone when the very helpful Japanese waitress described the difference in a precise lucid jargon-free way.) Cervere struck us as an uninspiring town (e.g., compared to Priocca) on what seemed to be a truck route, and walking about wasn't really pleasant.

                                    We have a lunch reservation at Del Belbo Da Bardon in San Marzano Oliveto for tomorrow and at All'Enoteca in Canale on Wednesday. Beyond that, we don't have anything booked. Over the last two days, saw a disadvantage of long lunches: one doesn't get to do much else while there is light. But don't see an alternative, as we are not keen to drive at night after (what could be) a bottle of vino each on roads that are unfamiliar to us. So, will probably take a break on Thursday and then try Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti on Friday.

                                    Then, on to Torino on Saturday to enjoy the aperitivo scene. And on to Emiiia-Romagna on Sunday for 5 days. Tentative plans are for dinners at Dal Pescatore (although not in ER), Da Ivan, and maybe for something different, Osteria Francescana. Does this plan make sense?

                                    One question of the experts. We are keen to take 6 bottles of Barolo back, ideally ready-to-drink bottles from great vintages like 1996, 1997, 2001. In the shops in Alba, didn't see anything older than 2004. Is there a place one could buy old vintages? Could one ask, e.g., Il Centro if they would be willing to sell wine (at their listed price) to take back?

                                    OK, already too long a post ...

                                    1. re: jihba

                                      Glad you're enjoying some of our favorite places. You could have asked Enzo at Il Centro for some wine. Most likely he would have sold it to you. He has a wine store right across the street, so he is used to selling retail.

                                      The 04 Grasso or Sandrone at Cervere... you couldn't have gone wrong with either one. We've had both there. The Japanese waiter is really excellent with wines. Really pleasant and her knowledge is encyclopedic.

                                      You can certainly buy wine at Cascinale but there might not be that much older than 2004 (a few 2001s). If you go, have the mille foglie to begin.

                                      The best place by far is Da Bardon, which as you'll see, still has plenty of '96 and the wonderful 99s and 2001. You simply won't believe the list. Just ask; they might sell you a few bottles. You never know. Wait until you pay your check (not at the table, at the cassa) and then ask. There are no stores that I'm aware of that have them back that far, and if they did, the storage conditions would be suspect.

                                      ER. Dal Pescatore is a different world. You'll see how different it is in terms of food and service from Il Centro, Da Cervere and if you go, Cascinale. Very formal, very hushed, very three star Michelin. Nadia and Antonio (and Bruna, Giovanni and Alberto) are, of course, some of the nicest restaurateurs in Italy. A very good wine list.

                                      Da Ivan is a wonderful trattoria and Barbara and Ivan are also special people. You'll actually find a number of older barolos from the 90s on the list and Ivan has stored them impeccably. A fun place. If you have a chance for a snack at lunch, really recommend La Buca in Zibello... and try the mariola and prete (in addition of course to the culatello; Miriam's is totally different from Ivan's).

                                      Osteria Fransescana... can't tell you about it. Never been there because it's not our type of food.

                                      Sounds like a great trip. Have continued fun. Please report back. Your report should be the standard for people reporting back. Glad you took the time.

                                      1. re: allende

                                        One more thing. There is a lovely walk on a small road after you finish your lunch at Da Bardon.

                                        Just leave the car in the parking lot (tell them you're going to take a walk). Go down the steep driveway, turn right (on the somewhat busy road; but it's not a problem) and walk about 200 meters. Then turn right on the small road and you'll have a fun time walking off a great lunch and an even greater bottle of barolo.

                                        Don't forget... the restaurant is not in the town of San Marzano. It is to the west, down the hill, about 2-3 km. away from the town.

                                      2. re: jihba

                                        jihba, try Cantina Giacomo Borgogno in Barolo, they have an enormous range of older Barolo's although they are not cheap and to be honest too "modern" for my taste. I usually buy older bottles direct from my favourite wineries but many won't sell them to you unless they know you.

                                        1. re: jihba

                                          I would double down on allende's comment. With the exception of Da Bardon, which we have yet to try, you seem to covering all of our favorite restaurants in Piemonte. We have purchased wine from Il Centro's store across the street (it may still be run by Mama Cordero (who preceded Elide, Enzo's wife, in the kitchen). I have little doubt that they would accommodate your request for a sampling from some of the older vintages.

                                          1. re: PH Rodgers

                                            Apologies if this gets posted twice ... the first attempt seemed to glitch out ...

                                            @allende

                                            Thanks very much for the two quick responses: saw them just before heading out to Da Bardon. And was able to take full advantage of your advice with great success --- both on procuring wine and the walk after lunch.

                                            In fact, it had begun in an unpromising way. As we approached Da Bardon, to our consternation, a large tour bus pulled in precisely at the moment we were about to turn in to their driveway. We considered leaving right away after tendering our apologies. Indeed, if it were not for the out-of-the-way location, the lure of the wine list and your strong recommendation, we would have done precisely that. We entered after waiting for a few minutes. And it took only another couple of minutes to realize that the presence of the tour group (a party of Italians) was not going to make any difference.

                                            The food was both simple and superb: shared the two antipasti of a vegetable flan and a cotechino with a silky potato puree; then a primo of ravioli del plin; cognilio al forno and a brasato al barbera as the two secondi. But of course it is the wine list that is truly extraordinary. Hard to keep to one's notional budget with a list like that. Had a 1996 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi de Boschis --- very good indeed.

                                            As I continued to study the wine list long after our wine had been served, at some point the owner came with an extra copy of the list and said, in charming English, "for you to take home". And *that* gave me my break to ask if I could also take some wine home. After a moment of surprised silence, he beamed: "how many bottles?" Finally, settled for two 1996s --- Scavino Bric del Fiasc and G, Conterno Cascina Francina -- and two 1999s --- Altare Arborina and Ratti Roche. [For each vintage, the first was my choice from my limited knowledge and the second the owner's recommendation.]

                                            The walk you suggested (in fact, the road we had taken from Alba on the last stretch to the restaurant) was excellent --- pretty and peaceful.

                                            Thanks for your suggestions on places in ER: more later on them.

                                            @Villasampaguita

                                            Thanks for the tip on the cantina. We haven't managed to go to Barolo yet (plan to do so on Thursday). We will stop by then; we still have room to take two more bottles. Don't know Barolos enough to deconstruct "modern" applied to them: do you mean a "new-world-style"? We had figured that, as you say, I wouldn't have much luck getting old vintages from a winery that we happen to walk in to for the first time.

                                            Tomorrow we are looking forward to a lunch at All'Enoteca that we know you like a lot.

                                            @P H Rodgers

                                            Thanks for taking the time to respond. Il Centro would probably have been the perfect place to look for wine to take home --- the prices there were even more friendly than at Da Bardon (which were still very reasonable). If we had known that the owner of Il Centro also had an enoteca, we would have surely approached him. Not knowing that, we were afraid that they may find the idea somewhat offensive --- after all, they have the wine carefully stored to serve as something complementary to their food. But Priocca is not that far from Alba and we would consider going just to the enoteca to see what might be available.

                                            1. re: jihba

                                              Very pleased to hear that you enjoyed Bardon. After hearing what you ate and drank and what you bought in terms of wine, I have the urge to go right now. I can taste that '99 Arborina (my favorite barolo... in any vintage) and plin and cotechino and the rabbit.

                                              Have you thought about going to La Torre in Cherasco for lunch? I mention it only that it is a wonderful trattoria with wonderful food, has a very good wine list (although nowhere as good as Bardon and Priocca) and is not far from Barolo (on the way to Cervere from where you are, but much closer). It is infinitely better than anything in Barolo or around there.

                                              1. re: allende

                                                Hello again, allende,

                                                Turns out we have a booking at Osteria Veglio tomorrow --- kind of by mistake. (We had asked the owner of the house we are renting if she could book four restaurants for us and gave a couple of fall-back options, including Veglio; looking through her email, I see she has booked Veglio as well.)

                                                We have to call them anyway to postpone the time to 14:00. If you think La Torre is an order of magnitude better, we could ask if cancelling Veglio at such a short notice will inconvenience them. (We would normally give a restaurant at least 24-hour notice if we cancel.)

                                                Tomorrow our main plan is to drive through (and walk in) Barolo and La Morra and also to stop by the enoteca in Grinzane Cavour that a few posters have spoken highly of. We won't quite linger at lunch as we have been doing.

                                                We don't have set plans for Friday. Any area we should focus on driving through? Food-wise, we were leaning towards trying for a dinner at Cascinalenuovo (driving back on the Autostrada is straightforward); we could go to La Torre for lunch instead, but don't think we can handle both.

                                                A very enjoyable lunch today at All'enoteca, but quite a different experience from the other three places we have tried in Piemonte. We had opted for the "short surprise menu" of 5 courses, with a request for the piccione with tartufo nero as the secondo. We could not come up with a counting system by which we had fewer than 9 courses (not counting stuzzichini). 3 antipasti (well-described upthread by Powers), 2 primi --- two different types of ravioli, one with roast meat, one with "liquid" pesto ---
                                                a course of root vegetables with tartufo nero, "liquid" bone marrow with porcini, then the piccione, followed by dessert. Seemed like the kitchen served us the 8-course menu (which was an option) but only charged us for the smaller menu. For wine, a glass of spumanti, a glass of an excellent Arneis, and a bottle of 2001 Paolo Scavino Carobric (that we thought perhaps needed to soften a bit more).

                                                Every course was excellent; maybe not traditional but certainly produce-driven and flavour-driven. And excellent value at 70 euros, especially so with the extra courses. Our only mildly critical observation was that one does see a similar style of food in Sydney and New York --- the two cities we know well --- and, no doubt, in Paris and London too; so, it felt a bit closer to "global food" (for want of a better term).

                                                1. re: jihba

                                                  La Torre is more interesting food wise than Veglio, and has a better wine list, but we like both and go to both regularly. .

                                                  Really like Cascinale as we have for many, many years. Roberto and Walter are special.

                                              2. re: jihba

                                                jihba,

                                                Just curious: Could you tell what type of tour group it was? Food and wine tour? Thanks for putting up such detailed reports. It's very interesting to me. I've not eaten at these places.

                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                  Hello barerinibee,

                                                  When searching through threads to see what we can find on Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna, I had thoroughly enjoyed, and learnt much from, your many posts. If I may say so, they strike me as models of good writing (in addition to being also highly informative).

                                                  I am afraid the only thing I know about the tour group is that they arrived in an alarmingly large bus. Turned out it was a group of only about 20 (or 25 max); they were speaking in Italian --- so, I presume either from Italy or perhaps the Italian part of Switzerland; mostly couples, some I imagine retired, others a mix of 40 and 50+.
                                                  We also wanted to find out a bit more about the group (for we certainly didn't expect a tour bus at this place), but our virtually non-existent Italian is a serious limitation in settings like that.

                                                  To preserve the purity of this thread, I will hold my queries on the possibilities in ER to a more suitable thread and hope to learn more from you and others.

                                                  Time now to head out for the Wednesday market in Asti that Fred Plotkin (a book that I first learnt about in your post) rates as the fifth best (!) in Italy --- after Bologna, Padova, Genova and San Remo.

                                                  @allende

                                                  Thanks for the suggestion of La Torre. More later ...

                                                  1. re: jihba

                                                    Thanks very much for the response (and the compliments!). But how especially nice to hear that I facilitated your finding Fred Plotkin's writings on Italy.

                                          2. re: allende

                                            Will be in the area early Nov. and staying in Siniofor a few days, as not to disturb your future reservation in La Morra. Is there a restaurant worthy of your comment nearby?
                                            Will definitely attempt Priocca and Da Bardon ( for lunch). Do you think I need reservation for lunch at Da Bardon and Priocca?
                                            Are there typical Piemonte speciality dishes that we must not missed?

                                            1. re: towkay

                                              Where or what is Siniofor?

                                              It's always good to make a reservation even for lunch, if only to make sure the restaurant will be open. This is Italy; restaurants decide to close on a mere whim.
                                              Again, we have not been to Priocca for lunch.

                                              The specialty dishes are too numerous to name (plin; tajarin; various agnolotti ripieni; risotto, vitello tonnato etc.) and at the time of year you're going, truffles with eggs (much better than truffles on pasta).

                                              Really curious where Siniofor is?

                                              1. re: allende

                                                Sorry typo error. It should read SINIO.
                                                Yes,we are fullfilling our dream of truffle in Piemonte, and will definitely include truffles with eggs and with pasta ( this is Italy of course).

                                                1. re: towkay

                                                  Ah, Sinio. Wonderful area and close to the vineyards. Great bike riding and walking. Bardon (for lunch) and Priocca are easy to get to. Also easy are La Torre in Cherasco, Veglio in Annunziata (just below La Morra) and Borgo Antico in the countryside south of Barolo.

                                                  I don't know specifically where you're staying, but you made a great choice in terms of the general area. Really beautiful, for us one of the best in Piemonte.

                                                  1. re: allende

                                                    Thank you so very much. You are a big help in the decision making.
                                                    We will look out for Arborina, and will try for a 95 or 97, if available. Hopefully we can include a tryout on a michelin star da Renzo, for comparison.

                                                    1. re: towkay

                                                      Da Renzo is very close as well. My mistake for not mentioning it. Two Michelin stars, but don't let that deter you. The owners have no attitude. Only quibble, as I've mentioned before, is that the wine list could be better, but there is still great stuff to drink. The food and service are wonderful.

                                                      1. re: allende

                                                        I've enjoyed reading everyone's experiences eating at certain Piedmont restaurants, and I would just like to add my two bits. First, let me share a little love for Il Vignaiolo where i had s superb lunch this weekend. I had no reservation and they were fully booked inside, but they kindly set up a table on their small terrace for me. I asked my friendly waitress to help me order and I couldn't have been happier with the juicy rabbit, the succulent quail, the tajarin with pork ragu, the lamb shoulder, and the semi freddo with chocolate sauce (at 32 euros this tasting menu was a bargain). They were even very kind to Bosco, my Boston terrier, who always travels with me. Unfortunately my reception was not so welcoming at Osteria Veglio two days later where I actually did have a reservation. When i arrived, I was told the restaurant was fully booked and that I had no reservation. I begged to differ but the woman said she takes all reservations and there was no table for me. I made her call my hotel and they confirmed that they had made a reservation for me... It was only then she actually asked my name, and indeed i had a table reserved...for two instead of one. (whether it was her fault or the hotel's fault I'm not sure.) Still, the welcome was cold, there was no attempt at accommodation, and definitely no apology. I stayed but didn't really feel like eating. That being said, the tajarin with porcini mushrooms was quite good. By the time I left an hour and a half later, there were still 8 empty tables. i won't be back.

                                                        1. re: Sangaboni

                                                          Funnily enough we had a similar experience with Veglio many years ago which soured us, after all there are so many wonderful restaurants to choose from all over Piedmont. Osterie Vignaiolo has never disappointed any time we have eaten there for almost 10 years as well as countless guests we have sent there, although we never been accompanied by a dog :-). Also very reasonably priced.

                                                          1. re: Villasampaguita

                                                            Interesting. We think just the opposite. No comparison... Veglio wins hands down on everything except the wine list, which is marginally better at Vignaiolo. It's why you see Altare, Voerzio et.al at Veglio and why so many of the La Morra producers recommend Veglio as The trattoria in La Morra. Food preparation, quality of the ingredients, menu, ambiance, service... so much better at Veglio. It does cost a bit more though than Vignaiolo. Oh, and did I mention no German tour busses at Veglio, busses that are routinely at Vignaiolo which caters to that crowd by starting dinner at 7 PM.

                                                            One thing I didn't understand re Sangaboni's comments. He left an hour and a half later and there were 8 empty tables. There are only 14 tables at Veglio, so that meant that more than half the restaurant was empty. Something doesn't gibe.
                                                            And in Italy, Sangaboni, a table for one is almost always a table for two.

                                                            Whatever... people can make their choice between the two places.. That's why this site exists.

                                                            1. re: allende

                                                              Thanks for your responses. I really wanted to like Osteria Veglio. The wine, the food, and the setting were all top notch. But a restaurant should be more than those things. The rude -- dare I say hostile -- welcome I received negates whatever positives I could see. In fact i can not recall EVER being treated so badly at a restaurant.

                                                              I have tried to analyze the source of the wait staff's rudeness. It began the moment i appeared at the door...the temperature felt like it dropped 20 degrees. I was told the restaurant was fully booked and that there was no place for me. My protestations that i had a reservation were ignored. She made it clear that I should leave. Why? I'm not sure.

                                                              - I was dressed well with a sport jacket, dress shirt, trousers, shoes.
                                                              -Yes, I was with a small well-behaved dog but that didn't seem to be the problem.
                                                              -I was obviously a foreigner given my bad Italian. I know some restaurants save their warmth and smiley faces for locals, regulars, and fellow countrymen. Foreigners are hard work and problematic. Yet, there were some Austrians and Germans in the restaurant and they didn't seem to be suffering.
                                                              -Then I thought..."I am the dreaded single diner"...the one who takes up a whole table where there could be 2 or 3 others diners. perhaps there is an unwritten rule there that they don't accept reservations from single diners in the hopes that a larger party might arrive. The fact that my reservation was mistakenly made for 2 people rather than 1 seemed to annoy her to no end... it's as if she thought I had somehow used stealth to get a table.

                                                              Yet as I pointed out , there were 8 empty tables when i left the restaurant at 14:30. Perhaps there would be a busload of tourists arriving or late dining locals. But that seemed unlikely. Indeed it didn't add up.

                                                              So I stand by my original assessment of the two restaurants. Even if the food, wine, setting are better, I'd rather go where I feel welcomed.

                                                              1. re: allende

                                                                Thanks again, allende, for all the wonderful suggestions, not only of restaurants but also of particular dishes. In our last two days in Piemonte, we did manage to fit in Osterio Veglio, La Torre and Il Cascinalenuovo. And all were excellent in their own ways.

                                                                We had a very pleasant lunch at Veglio. The food was very good: especially, del plin cotto in brodo e serviti al tovagliolo and the plate of vegetables, some cooked some raw. The service too was warm and welcoming: when we asked if they might have a particular wine in a slightly older vintage (an Altare Lange Nebbiolo from Arborina), they went to look in the cellar and came back with a choice of two older vintages and charged the same price as the listed (much younger) vintage.

                                                                For lunch the next day at La Torre, we had a bit of a problem with the recited menu. Unlike Da Bardon, where the choices were recited separately for each course, here the whole menu was recited at the start. That makes sense from the point of view of planning the meal, but with our command of Italians, so many choices posed a challenge. Nonetheless, it turned out the order worked quite well. A fantastic dish we have never had before (or since) stood out: a polenta gnocchi. We later regretted not ordering the lumache, as we discovered while walking through Cherasco that the town has a month-long snail festival!

                                                                At dinner at Il Cascinalenuovo, we began with a split-order of allende's recommendation: the mille foglie. It was the antipasto of the trip! The agnolotti del plin were also superb. The very warm service by the father-and-daughter team made the evening more special; the daughter (Alice), being fluent in English, was primarily looking after us, with the father (Roberto) advising on the wine list. The wine here surprised us (had left the choice to Roberto, with some indication of a price point and wines we have enjoyed): a 1990 Barbaresco. Didn't know Barbarescos aged so well.

                                                                In thinking over all the meals in Piemonte, we find it easier to rank the dishes we enjoyed the most than ranking the restaurants. Our favourite antipasto was the mille foglie at Cascinalenuovo; the favourite primo the cappeletti di faraona at Da Renzo; the favourite secondo the egg and cheese dish with tartufo bianco at Da Renzo, primarily for the quality of the tartufo, closely followed by the cognilio al forno at Da Bardon; Da Bardon had the best wine list of the trip by far. We also greatly enjoyed the vegetables: we often especially requested a plate even when not on the menu and invariably the quality was superlative. We are not big doci people; so didn't have them unless we had the degustazione and included dolci.

                                                                It is only when writing the above that it seems that Da Renzo and Da Bardon were probably the two we enjoyed the most overall; but Il Centro and Il Cascinalenuovo were also almost equally special.

                                                                So, a fantastic experience in Piemonte, thanks to the suggestions of the dedicated posters here --- our first trip ever where we have "outsourced research".

                                                                1. re: jihba

                                                                  what a great report, Im curious, how were the vegetables on your vegetable plates prepared?

                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                    Thanks, jen. What was really remarkable was that, even though not on the menu, most of the places served a plate of contrasting vegetables, cooked three ways! Some delicate ones raw, some blanched and some lightly roasted/grilled. The plates at Il Centro, Da Renzo and Veglio were the best, good enough to be one of the highlights of the meal at each.

                                                                  2. re: jihba

                                                                    Am really happy that the trip worked out so well for you. And, am pleased of course, that you took the time to write about it. This makes it much easier for others to see what great restaurants, wine lists and caring restaurateurs there are in Piemonte. So, thank you...and I can taste that mille foglie at Cascinale:)

                                                                    Will look forward to your ER report.

                                                                    1. re: allende

                                                                      Just to let you know, allende, that your recommendations for ER (of restaurants and of dishes!) were equally successful. Will post the ER report soon too.

                                                                      One general point I thought may be worth mentioning. We have found, in this trip and others, we enjoy the meal most when we keep in mind the idea of *relative* superiority. The quality of beef, lamb and all kinds of fish that we get in Sydney is superb (in my opinion, an order of magnitude better than in NYC). But pork, poultry, some of the gamier meat (coniglio,, piccione) and vegetables in Italy are clearly far superior, as are of course all the infinite varieties of pasta. The dishes we end up being somewhat less impressed with even at good places --- e.g., the tagliata of veal at Veglio this time --- are usually the result of ordering without thinking of this. (Not that the veal was not good but not markedly superior to what we can get.)

                                                                      1. re: jihba

                                                                        Glad to hear that I didn't screw up on ER :)

                                                                        Will look forward to your report and being able to vicariously get in another meal or two from your ER trattorie experience.

                                                                        Thanks so much again for letting me know how things went. It makes my effort worthwhile.

                                                                        1. re: jihba

                                                                          @ jihba

                                                                          Did you report on your trip to ER? Did I miss it? Was looking forward to it.

                                                                          1. re: allende

                                                                            allende,

                                                                            don't know if you missed this, and don't know if there was more to come

                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/876967

                                                                            1. re: barberinibee

                                                                              Saw it. I was hoping there was more. He wrote a great followup to Piemonte.

                                          3. re: allende

                                            I cannot for the life of me figure out what "financiera" is. Google translation is of no help. I know it's offal. But what exactly is it?

                                    2. My husband and I are visiting Piemonte for the first time this October, and we are so grateful to you for providing all of this information. We've basically used your posts as our culinary itinerary!

                                      We're hoping you won't mind answering a few questions, but we understand if you do.

                                      - I'm a vegetarian, while my husband is most definitely not. We read a thread about vegetarian eating in Piemonte, but still wonder: Will most of the restaurants you mention accommodate me? Will politely and apologetically requesting "senza carne" be enough to communicate that I want no meat or fish products in my food? We unfortunately do not speak Italian; will the language barrier cause problems for me in regards to my diet, or ordering in general at local restaurants?

                                      - How far in advance need we make reservations for truffle season? We'd love to eat at all of your favorites, but are not sure when to start reserving a table. Is it the usual one week that you recommended before, or longer for high season?

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: difaracraft

                                        There will be no problem in the trattorie and ristorante that I like and recommend. If you read the posts, you'll see that Osteria Veglio is the best for this. Fiorenza really cares about a great vegetable plate and great vegetable dishes.

                                        The others will also have dishes that have no meat (or fish): any number of pastas, antipasti and, of course, great cheese trolleys (the cheese trolleys, particularly, but not limited to Da Bardon and Il Centro in Priocca). Also they will all have vegetables, in most, certainly spinach. "Senza carne" will be enough for them to point out dishes... and in each place I've mentioned, someone there speaks at least a little English, if not the owner, then one of his/her younger staff.

                                        In October, if you're there when white truffles (really, is there any other kind) are being served, just try a few sunnyside up eggs at Da Bardon with a shaving of while truffles. Wash it down with a glass of barbaresco, barolo or barbera, and you'll think you've gone to the great food heaven. It might not be on the menu so just ask for it and it's yours... they're only to happy to do it. "Uova con tartuffi."

                                        As far as reservations, tell me which places you are planning to go, whether for lunch or dinner, and roughly which days of the week (clearly weekends require more advanced planning) and when in October.

                                        Would you please... I'll say it again... would you please follow up on your trip and write a detailed report about the places you eat at. It helps everyone. Too many people say they will, but never do. Thanks much.

                                        1. re: allende

                                          I'm the husband mentioned in difaracraft's post. Thanks so much for your quick response and your detailed reviews - they are so helpful. We promise to post our own reports when we return.

                                          We did notice your comments about Veglio and their vegetables - she's very excited about that. I'm a big wine collector - the name sounds familiar - right down the road from Altare, right? (huge Arborina fan). My wife forgot that I visited the region for a day after a physics conference in the Lake district about 10 years ago - went to Altare and Clerico and ate lunch at Belvedere (I went without any real knowledge or planning at all, except about wine).

                                          We're going to be there from Oct 15 - Oct 22, so we should be around for the truffles, which is good. We're hoping to hit the major places you mentioned: Bardon, Veglio, La Torre, Il Centro, Da Renzo, Cascinalenuovo, and All'Enoteca. If you had any suggestions on how to arrange these - preferences for lunch or dinner, then that would be wonderful.

                                          Also, since we're going to be there for so long, any additions you had would be great as well - even a moderate drive away.

                                          Finally, since we will be there for the festival, if you had any suggestions on how to best take advantage of that...

                                          1. re: SARnyc

                                            The 15th to the 22nd is peak time. Last week we made reservations for relatives at Veglio and Bardon, and when we made them, there were already reservations in the book (for that period). I would suggest making all of them now.

                                            Bardon and Veglio we particularly like for lunch (but dinner is very good as well) and La Torre, Il Centro, Da Renzo and Cascinale, we particularly like for dinner (but like for lunch as well... we haven't been to La Torre for lunch, but have no reason to think it it won't be anything but wonderful). Of course on a Sunday, we much prefer lunch at all the places. Don't worry if you can't get into one of them for lunch, just go for dinner and vice versa. At that time of year, the places are all going to be filled and so the ambience at lunch will be fine. BTW, All' Enotecca is not a place we have recommended.

                                            As far as any order, I don't think it matters. You might not want to go to Centro and Da Renzo back to back. The only other place we might suggest is Boccondivino in Bra, for a "lite" meal :) and a very good list.

                                            You're a huge Arborina fan. So am I. Yes, he is right there in Annunziata, as are Silvio Grasso, Mauro Veglio and Roberto Voerzio... for us, La Morra makes the most wonderful barolos. We were at Veglio one day, eating on the terrace, and Elio was there, enjoying his own wine.

                                            Bardon and Centro (and then Cascinale) have by far the best lists of the above places. You'll really enjoy them. Da Renzo has a good list, but disappointing in that a restaurant of this caliber should have a much better list. Veglio and La Torre lists are fine. If there is something you want at these two places that is not on the list, just ask... sometimes the list is not up to date.

                                            Places not to go in our opinion, but only in our opinion. Bovio just below La Morra. An incredible list, but really mediocre food. Good place to go to have a light lunch, one course (pasta with truffles, hard for them to screw it up, I think) and a cheese course and a bottle of wine. Trattoria della Posta in Monforte. Nice people, but again, mediocre food and not even a good list. We do not like Ciau del Tornavento near Barbaresco. Great list, but very overpriced, unlike the great very reasonably priced lists e.g. Bardon, Centro. Plays games with food and has a very inflated opinion of himself as a chef. Mix of ingredients in many dishes is strange, very strange.

                                            Have never been at the festival, so can't help you on that point.

                                            Have fun and drink well... at some of these places you will not believe the wine lists and the very moderate prices, and even at those which don't have great lists, there is a lot (really a lot) of great wine to drink. At all of them the food is really good, in all different ways.

                                            1. re: allende

                                              Thanks again for all the help. So it looks like things are coming together. We have reservations at Bardon, Centro, Torre, Da Renzo, Veglio and Cascinale.

                                              However, we're there for an entire week, so we do have more slots to fill if we wish. So I have a few more questions:

                                              1. Are their any spots that you think we might want to hit twice? Bardon? One of us is a vegetarian, so I was thinking maybe Veglio twice as well. Centro?

                                              2. Any other spots to add: Bunet in Bergolo? or Locanda nel Borgo Antinco? or San Marco?

                                              3. How much is too much for 7 days? - obviously we could fill all 14 slots, but that would be overkill. Any thoughts on how many meals to shoot for total in the week. We're as gluttonous as any Chowhounder, but we're not crazy (OK, maybe just a little ...) So I was thinking probably a total of 10 meals - lunches and dinners in the week - thoughts?

                                              thanks again.

                                              1. re: SARnyc

                                                I don't know why nobody seems to ever mention Cuneo, which is a charming small city, the capital of the region of which Alba is a part. We had a great lunch there. This thread includes a report on our lunch there:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810190

                                                You would have to check the menu or call them to find out how accommodating they would be to a vegetarian.

                                                1. re: rrems

                                                  Thanks for the tip - we'll take a look.

                                      2. Hi, Allende.

                                        Thanks for all the food experience that you've shared on this board. I have been reading up on your post and planning my trip to Piemonte and Emilia Romagna in November. I'm a huge white truffle fan, so I'm really excited about this trip. I will be in the Alba area for a week from November 14- 21, then head out to Modena/Bologna for another week, Nov 21-28, eventually stopping by Florence for a couple of days and fly back to San Francisco from there.

                                        So far, I've put most of the restaurants that you mentioned and a few other restaurants that I've collected here and there on the Internet on my list.

                                        The only thing that I'm really worry about is that I will be traveling and dining alone. Are there certain restaurants that do not welcome single diners that I should avoid? (I also don't speak any Italian, so that is adding more anxiety to me. :-/ )

                                        P.S. I've never had Piemonte wine before. I'd like to try a few bottles before I head out to Italy. Do you have any recommendation for me as a beginner to Piemonte wine? :-)

                                        List of the restaurants that I want to visit: (Any that you think I should just flat out cross out? LOL. )

                                        1. Piazza Duomo (Alba)
                                        2. Osteria del Boccondivino (Bra)
                                        3. Antica Corona Reale da Renzo (Cervere)
                                        4. Osteria La Torre (Cherasco)
                                        5. Il Cascinalenuovo (Isola d'Asti)
                                        6. L'Osteria del Vignaiolo (La Morra)
                                        7. Osteria Veglio (La Morra)
                                        8. Osteria Francescana (Modena)
                                        9. Hostaria da Ivan (Parma)
                                        10. Ristorante il centro (Priocca)
                                        11. Le Calandre (Rubano)
                                        12. Del Belbo da Bardon (San Marzano Oliveto)
                                        13. Amerigo dal 1934 (Savigno)
                                        14. Trattoria La Buca de Zibello ( (Zibello)
                                        15. Dal Pescatore (Canneto sull'Oglio)
                                        16. Enoteca Pinchiorri (Florence)
                                        17. Vini e Vechi Sapori (Florence)

                                        Thanks!

                                        33 Replies
                                        1. re: vparque

                                          With regard to # 2,3,4,5,7,9,10,12,13,14,15... the places I know well, there is no problem dining alone. It is commonplace in Italy and places do not discriminate or at least I've never seen it.

                                          As far as Piemontese wine, try a few bottles of barbera, barolo and barbaresco. Kermit Lynch (and other places) should have plenty of them.

                                          That's quite an eating schedule!

                                          1. re: allende

                                            Thanks, Allende! I feel more comfortable then. I'll take some photos too and share them here when I come back.

                                            Thanks for the recommendation of the wine. I'll go ahead and give these wine a try before I go. :)

                                            The list of restaurants are getting longer as people continue to recommend me places to go. How do you recommend me making reservation to these restaurants? Should I email them directly? Or perhaps have my hotel help me make these appointment.

                                            1. re: allende

                                              I just got back from my trip in Italy last week. I'm still sorting through my photos and notes. I started a blog for my experience there and still got 10 days worth of content to catch up. The experience in Alba, however, has been posted to my blog.

                                              My Alba experience starts from Day 4.
                                              http://blog.wonsun.com/2013/11/day-4-...

                                              I wasn't able to go to all the restaurants on the list. That was just too much food. LOL. Of all the restaurants that I went to, Antica Corona Reale was my favorite. The wait staff was super friendly even though I was there on my own. The owner came talk to me about truffles and some of the history of the restaurant. Really awesome.

                                              I went to four michelin 3-star restaurants on this trip. Le Calendre and Piazza Duomo was disappointing, whereas Dal Pescatore was great, and Osteria Francescana was awesome.

                                              After I finish catching up to my entire trip experience, I'll come back here and post summary.

                                              Thanks for recommending Antica Corona Reale, Allende. I wouldn't have known to go there. It was amazing.

                                              Here is a photo of the best truffle dish that I have ever had in my life, and I had it in Antica Corona Reale!

                                               
                                              1. re: vparque

                                                Glad you enjoyed Antica Corona Reale (Da Renzo).

                                                Just looked at your blog. That is simply fantastic. No one that I recall has written about a trip in such detail and so well. Very impressive. Thanks for taking so much time.

                                                I'm posting this at the end of the comments because it will get lost after a day or so in this part of the blog.

                                            2. re: vparque

                                              While in Piemonte, you might want to check out La Spinetta One Litre Club. It is hard to find elsewhere. Have to make an appointment prior to visiting the winery.
                                              Osteria Francescana ( Modena) is worth a visit, and there were a couple of single diners, when we were there. Possibly foodies writing notes and taking photos of dishes.
                                              In Parma, check out Parizzi. They have a tasting dish of different aged prosciutto. Interesting to feel and taste the difference.
                                              Both are single diner and language friendly.
                                              Wish I could be back again!

                                              1. re: towkay

                                                Thanks for the recommendations, towkay. Putting them on my list of things to do! From what everyone is saying, dining on my own should be fine. I feel more relaxed about it now.

                                                So excited about this trip! :)

                                              2. re: vparque

                                                My partner and I noticed many tables occupied by one person when we have dined in Piemonte, and also other parts of Italy and Europe in general. Even in the smallest towns, there are often what we assume to be wine buyers, who are there alone and dining by themselves (always male, and could be businessmen in other fields, we are just guessing).

                                                Unlike some places in the US, you should never feel uncomfortable dining alone in Europe.

                                                1. re: rrems

                                                  Thanks, rrems! I feel much better about dining alone on this trip after reading you guys' reply. The list is getting longer. I'll try to dine in as many of them as possible. :)

                                                  1. re: vparque

                                                    @vparque
                                                    With regard to the reservations, email. However, Italian restaurants (and Italians in general) sometimes do not look at their email for days (weeks?) at a time (I think it was La Stampa the other day which had an article that said 40% of Italians have never used a computer). If you don't hear back, ask your hotels to make the reservations.

                                                    1. re: allende

                                                      Awesome. Thanks! I'll do that. Although it is still a month and a half away, I'll make sure that I post my experience in these restaurants. I just bought a bottle of Barolo and a bottle of Barbera. Haven't opened them yet. Going to cook something to go with them.

                                                      Any winery is a must-visit for you? I'm thinking about bringing a box of Barolo back to the US.

                                                      I was looking for Anthony Bourdain's visit to Piemonte, but it doesn't look like he did any show there... :-(

                                                      Thanks,

                                                      1. re: vparque

                                                        @ SARnyc

                                                        Quite a schedule, but a good one.

                                                        Even though I wasn't asked, we've been to Borgo Antico three times, the last time this past March, The first two times we had very good-excellent meals. I wrote about one (see above).

                                                        This time, we took friends there. It was a good meal, nothing more. It wasn't nearly as good as the first two times. Nothing was off, the service was good, but somehow it didn't sparkle as it had twice before.

                                                        Friends in La Morra have told us that Borgo Antico was thinking of moving from the current place which a little south from the town of Barolo. We have no idea why because the place in the country was a lovely venue. Supposedly they were hooking up with someone who was building a large hotel and they were going to manage the restaurant. Who knows if this happened or if the restaurant is even open; we forgot to ask when we were in La Morra a few weeks ago.

                                                        On still another trip to Piemonte this year, we went to San Marco in Canelli. We hadn't been there in more than 20 years. A lovely dining room, excellent service, very nice staff and owners. There was lots to choose from on the menu, the ingredients were first rate and the cooking was good. A good wine list moderately priced and an owner who knew what was on the list and clearly cared about it. Disappointing was the cheese selection, which was spectacular all those years ago (in fact, that was the first time my wife had a cheese course instead of a main course). The owner said that people aren't eating cheese the way they did 20 years ago and so the selection is limited. Would we recommend San Marco? Absolutely, if you were near Canelli or Nizza Monferrato; we would gladly have another dinner there.

                                                        Hope this helps.

                                                        1. re: allende

                                                          Allende-

                                                          Thanks again for the info - I hope I didn't offend by requesting information from others :) I read and reread your reviews and got a good feel for your opinion on a number of places - we're obviously using your data as the core of our eating itinerary. Since I know you're not interested in All'Enoteca, I figured some other opinions might help me make up my mind with these other places. Too bad about Borgo Antico :(

                                                          We just got our confirmation for our Sunday lunch at Bardon - can't wait!

                                                          1. re: allende

                                                            Oh - since I have your ear. Of the core 6 that I listed - is there anywhere you'd think of hitting twice in a week? From your regular reviews, I was thinking Bardon - it sounds like such a special place ...

                                                            1. re: SARnyc

                                                              Bardon, absolutely, for a number of reasons. First, the place. While all of the places are special, this is a very special trattoria. The food is such that you could eat it more than once a week. There is the cheese trolley that is simply great and one could certainly have that for one course. The menu keeps changing. There are many stincos; one at one meal, one at another. When you're going to be there just order sunnyside up eggs with shaved truffles, another great course. My point is that because of the flexibility of the menu, it is a place to go to more than once in a given week. Then, of course, you have the incredible wine list, in and of itself, and certainly the greatest we've ever seen at a trattoria (no trattoria comes anywhere close). Then you have the ambience of the place and the service and the wonderful owners and... definitely the place for more than one meal.

                                                              1. re: allende

                                                                Lovely - I like to try to eat there twice.

                                                                I'd like to ask you a few questions about wine (if you ever visit wineries in the Langhe and your thoughts on Modern vs traditional winemaking in the area) - but I'm not sure it is appropriate for Chowhound - would you mind emailing me at sethr4750@gmail.com?

                                                                1. re: SARnyc

                                                                  there is a wineboard here too, if the discussion gets to far away from dining that is a good place to discuss.

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/34

                                                                  1. re: SARnyc

                                                                    I should have added that our second choice for eating twice within a week would be Il Centro. Here's why. The menu changes every day depending on what Elide wants to cook. The food, in our opinion (and some of our friends), is a cut above anything else, including Da Renzo. But, this is restaurant food, not trattoria food. Will email

                                                                2. re: SARnyc

                                                                  We have never visited Borgo Antico and it has been several years since our last meals at San Marco and All'Enoteca. That said, the food at San Marco was always good and the service excellent. It probably dropped off our list, because Canelli has been a bit out of our way, given where we have tended to stay over the last few years.

                                                                  By the way, we are heading back to Piemonte on the 18th and our list of restaurant reservations is virtually identical to yours. I suspect, after noting Allende's comments about Bardon, we also may pay a second visit.

                                                                  1. re: Peter Rodgers

                                                                    Peter-

                                                                    Thanks for the help! We'll be there from 15th through the 22nd - we should see if we have any matching reservations. If you email me at the address I posted above I'll send you our itinerary.

                                                                    1. re: SARnyc

                                                                      @ JazzyK

                                                                      Fianziera (nb) is different, depending on where in Piemonte (it is a Piemontese dish) you have it. It is mainly offal, but sometimes there is a bit of succulent poultry as well.

                                                                      At La Torre in Cherasco, Marco stews the various offal pieces and serves it with a rich sauce. An osteria dish.

                                                                      Elide's dish at Il Centro is very very rich, and some of the meat is stewed and some roasted. Plated beautifully as are all her dishes.

                                                                      Walter, at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti, serves it as in a millefeuille. The meat is prepared and then is used as a filling between layers, in this case not pastry, but very thinly sliced meat, most often tongue. It is an incredible dish.

                                                                      All three of the finazieras have been exceptional.

                                                                      1. re: allende

                                                                        I understood Fianziera to be chicken livers and sweetbreads, both of which I like very much. What other offal might be encountered? Among Bardon, Torre, Veglio and Centro where you choose to have it?

                                                                        Also, what the heck is plin? Again, where?

                                                                        1. re: jock

                                                                          Plin is the Piemontese version of stuffed pasta. Our favorite plin is at Bardon because of the intensity of the filling and great pasta. Centro in Priocca and Da Renzo in Cervere would be in second place for us. The best pasta, but not the best filling. Minor, minor quibbles.

                                                                          What else might be in finanziera? Tongue, brains, kidneys, heart etc. Where to have it? Any of the three places I mentioned in my post, just above your post. On any given day, however, it might not be on the menu at Centro or La Torre because their menus change most every day. It is almost always on the menu at Cascinale.

                                                                        2. re: allende

                                                                          my only exposure to finanziera was on the UES many years ago and the ragu involved chicken livers and cockscombs - have you seen these ingredients?

                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                            UES? Ragu?

                                                                            1. re: allende

                                                                              Im talking about an expensive business dinner in Manhattan more than 30 years ago so I remember the sauciness , the flavor and the chunky look of it - better than the format. I think it was served over pasta but possibly not - it would have been an exotic entree choice for a group of whitebread americans,

                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                Oh, the Upper East Side. Jen, I must tell you, having lived on the UES, more than 30 years ago (and less than 30 years ago), I'm very skeptical about there being finanziera in anything more than name only. It's just not a UES dish.

                                                                                Even if Le Cirque (or that other expensive Italian place in the high 70s, low 80s, right off Madison, whose name I forget) had wanted to do it (and I can't believe Sirio would have wanted to), no one would eat it. Slight exaggeration, but not by much.

                                                                                As far as perhaps being served over pasta (or rice), that is something that would show that whoever was preparing it, wasn't really serious. Perhaps some French restaurant was doing it, but then that restaurant probably served pasta as a vegetable, as French restaurants are want to do. That reminds me of the first rule of eating pasta in a French restaurant... DON'T.

                                                                                Finanziera is not a ragu, at least not the ones that we've had.

                                                                                1. re: allende

                                                                                  You know, there were several very well known Italian restaurants up there in the late 1970s and early 80s.- I think this one persisted for quite a long time, maybe its still there for the Park Ave crowd Its a pointless discussion here - suffice it to say my group was served a dish "alla finanziera" maybe it was fegato di pollo alla financiera, with the ingredients mentioned and it was quite a surprise.

                                                                              2. re: allende

                                                                                Allende

                                                                                sorry to keep bugging you. can you send me email addresses for any of the following? (see my profile)
                                                                                Bardon, Centro, Torre, Da Renzo, Veglio and Cascinalenuovo

                                                                                1. re: jock

                                                                                  Torre and Veglio don't use email. For the other four just go to Google; that's what I'd have to do.

                                                                                  1. re: jock

                                                                                    The Michelin guide online has emails for all the ones that use email.

                                                                              3. re: allende

                                                                                How very interesting. It seems that there is a lot of variety in each restaurant's Fianziera. Now the real question, will I order it if it is on the menu? It's a possibility. I have eaten quite a bit of offal and have enjoyed a lot of it, so I guess it depends on how adventurous I am feeling that day!

                                                                                1. re: JazzyK

                                                                                  I may also order pig's feet if I see it on a menu. But, I have watched some videos on preparing pig's feet, and I have to admit, it could be a bit disconcerting to have an actual pig's foot on my dinner plate in front of me. I just don't know. We will see.

                                                              2. re: vparque

                                                                My two cents as follows:
                                                                1. Piazza Duomo (Alba)

                                                                Certainly worth a visit. Classic flavors, modern interpretation, beautiful presentation. Very minor criticism: protein temperatures sometime suffer given the time to create the artwork. Menu doesn't change much either.

                                                                3. Antica Corona Reale da Renzo (Cervere)

                                                                Only been once. Classic food. A nice home feel to the place. But simply given strong competition, I didn't return.

                                                                5. Il Cascinalenuovo (Isola d'Asti)

                                                                Very nice. On one occasion, Walter was not present and a few courses were not perfect. One of my favorites. Periodically updates menu.

                                                                8. Osteria Francescana (Modena)

                                                                In my opinion, the taste of the food suffers under the creative effort. Our wine server was unprofessional.

                                                                11. Le Calandre (Rubano)

                                                                A nice restaurant. Formal and friendly service at the same time; nice food. Only criticism: generally, I'm not a fan of mixing temperatures (e.g. cold onion sorbet in hot soup quickly results in melted sorbet and lukewarm soup).

                                                                15. Dal Pescatore (Canneto sull'Oglio)

                                                                Formal, but friendly, relaxed. Very good classic food. On each occasion, and on every course, protein temperatures were perfect. Worth the drive.

                                                                Others to try:
                                                                Esplanade (Desenzano del Garda)
                                                                Villa Crespi (Orta San Giulio)
                                                                Villa Amelia (Benevello)

                                                                 
                                                              3. ...Thanks for this great post. We had a fabulous meal at Osteria Veglio - the sisters were fabulous, the food was even better and it was a great entree into Piedmontese food. (Lamb chops were to die for). Also made it to La Libera - very good, bit "fancier" but a delish meal - and Antica Torre in Barbaresco - good/local-y find.

                                                                1. We were in Alba for a few nights recently and got to try these three restaurants. We weren’t sure whether to include Alba in our Piemonte region and as suggested in this forum, it was definitely love at first sight. Now I understand what people mean when they talk about food in Piemonte region. There are numerous experiences to share but I will keep this post strictly about reviews.

                                                                  Trattoria La Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe
                                                                  ------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  We were staying in Alba so the drive to La Coccinella in the night was quite interesting ! The dining area has traditional and cosy feeling. I don’t remember what I ordered for antipasti but I think it was rabbit. For primi I got the tajarin and wife got the gnocci. For secondi, I got the veal and wife got the fish. For wine, they recommended us a Barbera D’Alba from a wineyeard called La Vigne Di Ca Nova. It’s a swiss winemaker very close to the restaurant. We absolutely loved the wine and bought a case for home from the winery the next day. Usually, the food in this region is too rich for us but what I loved about this place was that there were options to order food that were not too rich. Also, it was a pleasure to have a host/server Alessandro who was confident in his English and could converse with us which added to the experience of the dinner. The overall bill was around 100 euros and it was a memorable experience and we will certainly go back.

                                                                  Osteria la Torre
                                                                  ----------------------
                                                                  When we parked our car, we thought the town looked quite interesting so we took a bit of a walk before the dinner. La Torre, in a pleasant way, has a modern décor. Some people I talked to didn’t find the modern décor interesting and perhaps could not relate to it for having come to dine at an osteria in middle of cherasco and not in the center of Milano! I thought that having eaten at all traditional looking restaurant, this was a pleasant change. They don’t have a menu and they recite it for you. I didn’t take too many notes. We ordered a Barbera D’Alba for 20 euros. For antipasti, I ordered a big plate which had Russian salad, veal tongue with tomato sauce and fried anchovies. Wife ordered eggs (like omelette) garnished with quite a generous shaving of white truffles. I got tajarin for primi and wife got the minestrone soup. I don’t think we ordered secondi. For desert we had peaches cooked in wine and panna cotta. The food was to die for. Also, for us, it was great that we could find items in the menu that we liked and were not laden with butter and oil. That being said the service was disappointing. The gentlemen, chefs brother, did not want to try to converse with us in English. We wanted to ask questions about the menu but he was simply avoiding us. In the end, we want to say thank you to him but he still avoided us. I thought all of this was very rude and it made us remember and appreciate the service at La Coccinella even more. I believe the total bill was around 80 euros. If i am back in the area i will definitely go back but this time with no expectation from the service.

                                                                  Osteria del Vignaiolo
                                                                  ---------------------------------
                                                                  We went there for lunch. Since we had the reservation we were lucky to get an outside table. The setting is mesmerizing facing the vineyard and feeling the cool breeze from the trees. I felt I was in a movie. We got the house white wine. The bread they gave was really really good. I had rabbit for antipasti and I thought it was a bit dry. The onion confit with the rabbit was perhaps not enough to make the dish well rounded. But what do I know ? I should be thankful to be eating at a top restaurant shouldn’t I ? For primi we tried the tajarin with ragu sauce and stracatto. The waiter/server were quite stressed out at lunch. Usually they walk away from you and pick up pace as they are away from customers sight but in this case they were pacing in and out. My wife thought that transferred the stress back to us (in a way). I believe it affected her too more than it should have but I agree that they should not be running around the guests. The total bill was around 65 euros. In general I thought that the food here was quite rich and there weren’t any not so rich options. If that does not bother you, I think the lunch setting is beautiful and one must try once.

                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                  1. re: TkNeo

                                                                    Did you go to Osteria Vignaiolo or Osteria Veglio?

                                                                    1. re: allende

                                                                      Osteria Vignaiolo. We had limited time and i picked Vignaiolo over Veglio. I know you have been quite vocal about Veglio but i read mixed reviews especially lately.

                                                                      1. re: TkNeo

                                                                        At Veglio, you could have bypassed the quite rich food, because Fiorenza includes lots of vegetable dishes, including soups, that focus on seasonal products cooked to perfection. Plus, the view is much much better from their terrace:)

                                                                        At La Torre, the co-owner with his brother, the chef, doesn't speak very much English ( a few words here and there), so a conversation would have been impossible. Glad to hear the food was to die for. Every time we go, that's exactly what we say.

                                                                        1. re: allende

                                                                          At La Torre we were pleasantly surprised that while English with the owner was difficult his French is very good. A compromise that worked very well for us. Food and service were both excellent.

                                                                          1. re: allende

                                                                            At La Torre, we were not expecting chit-chatting and conversations. We had questions about the menu that he answered when he first recited the menu. He helped us pick the wine. In broken english but it worked for both parties. Later, we had more questions about the menu and desert and he was simply avoiding us.He could simply come and say " sorry my english not good" and leave it at that. But looking at us, and we asking him to come over and then turning away is simply rude.

                                                                            I understand its a hassle for a non english speaker to be doing this but they are in the PEOPLE business and running away from people is simply not acceptable in my books.

                                                                            1. re: TkNeo

                                                                              I agree with you that it is not acceptable to run away from people. In all the many times we've been to La Torre, he has been gracious to everyone, whether Americans, British, Germans or Italians. Even when the dining room was full, he would always take the time to carefully explain the menu as he has to do because it is recited.

                                                                              You said you wanted to talk to him about desserts, but didn't you do this when you ordered your desserts? You surely could have talked to him when you paid your check, right? Or am I missing something? Again, not making excuses, but I'm puzzled.

                                                                              1. re: allende

                                                                                We talked to him when he recited the menu initially and then during ordering the wine. Then after the antipasti another girl started helping us. But she could speak even less English so we tried to look at him to get his attention to come over but he wouldn't. Sorry for the confusion. I know you absolutely love that place :)

                                                                                1. re: TkNeo

                                                                                  I, and many others, greatly enjoy La Torre. That doesn't matter.

                                                                                  You had poor service and it shouldn't be that way. La Torre and the others we like in Piemonte enjoy getting repeat customers. In this case, unfortunately for La Torre, it won't get you and your wife back again.

                                                                                  1. re: allende

                                                                                    Vparque has written a note (see above for today) of a long trip to Italy. Has also blogged

                                                                                    http://blog.wonsun.com/2013/11/day-4-...

                                                                                    and a great one it is.

                                                                                    1. re: allende

                                                                                      Thanks, Allende. :) This was an amazing trip. Great food, beautiful landscape and friendly and down-to-earth people. I just got back last week and I already want to go back again.

                                                                                      Thanks for everyone's recommendation!

                                                                                      1. re: allende

                                                                                        Thanks for sharing a great blog.
                                                                                        Makes me want to return urgently for missing out on Antica Corona Reale for white truffles on every dish!