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Eating through the Piemonte region

((Ok, something went terribly wrong with original post! CH mods, could you pls delete the previous thread? Thanks in advance!__

We will be traveling through the Piemonte region in the autum season, and for now, this is what our reservations are looking like:

Combal Zero - Rivoli
Guido - Pollenzo
Boccondivino - Bra
Piazza Duomo - Alba

Wondering what else would everyone recommend? We'll be in Torino a few nights, followed by Bra, Asti and Alba. I will slowly pore through the search results here to see what everyone recommends for this region

* But in the meantime, I did a search on here and couldn't find anything about Consorzio in Torino. Has anyone been, and would you recommend? Site: http://www.ristoranteconsorzio.it/

* Also, is there anything of interest en route from Bellagio to Asti (I know, it probably sounds a bit strange out of context, but such is our route)? I understand Novara is a nice town to go through (as per Plotkin), Biella is known for wool (and beer!), and Vercelli is known for rice.. but is there anything else of particular interest along this route?

Also, has anyone tried the guided tour + tasting at the Wine Bank in Pollenzo? (We aren't huge drinkers, but the region is so well known for it, we love learning new things, and that vault looks amazing!

)

Thank you so much in advance!

db

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Piazza Duomo
vicolo dell'Arco 1, angolo piazza Risorgimento, Alba, Piedmont 12051, IT

Consorzio
Via Monte di Pietà, 23, Turin, Piedmont , IT

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  1. I have mentioned this on other threads regarding the Piemonte, but I would again recommend visiting the regional enoteca/wine tasting room in the castle above the village of Grinzane Cavour, a bit south of Alba. There is a large tasting room where you will be able to taste wines from 20-30 various wine makers in the region. The castle itself is worth touring and there is a restaurant on the premises as well.

    http://www.castellogrinzane.com/ing/i...

    I have found the information/booklets (especially the ones regarding food/wine tourism) available in the local tourist offices in the Piemonte to be very helpful. I know there are tourism offices in both Bra & Alba (at least there used to be!).

    1. Well if you stay few nights in Torino I would recommend a vist to Eataly Torino (where everything started...long before the one in NYC), eating to:
      AS promised here the phone numbers and map to "Porto di Savona", "Michele" and "Kuoki"
      Porto di Savona:Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 2 Torino - 011 817 3500
      Michele:Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 4 Torino (pizza al tegamino..ask for that...)
      Kuoki: VIA FERRARI GAUDENZIO,. (10124) Torino (TO). Tel.011 8397865

      In case anyway you should try too "ristorante tre galli" in the quadrilatero romano.

      Alex

      1. We have done the tour and tasting at the Banca del Vino in Pollenzo and LOVED it. I recommend adding the Slow Food Presidia products to the tasting if that is still an option... you get to try some amazing local artisanal food products. We sampled some great salumi and cheeses that went very well with the wines. I'm sure you will enjoy it.

        1. We try to get to Piemonte whenever we can and have a trip planned for truffle season, using Il Castello di Sinio as the jumping off point for as many as eight meals. As to the Langhe and Roero areas, you are missing two essential restaurants: Antica Corona da Renzo in Cervere and Il Centro in Priocca. You will find lots of comments on each on this board. I would rate both ahead of Guido in Polenzo (although I have always been a great fan of the Alciati family, especially when they ran the original Guido in Costigliole d'Asti.

          Another highly recommended restaurant among readers here is Trattoria Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe. Finally, for a wonderful traditional lunch, consider I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro.

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

          8 Replies
          1. re: Peter Rodgers

            @DavidT: Thanks for this suggestion - I have read about it on here and in the guides, will add to our itinerary!

            @TorinoAgent: Thanks for all this! I see you are a Torino specialist! Eataly is definitely on our list. We've frequented the one in NYC, as well as visited the Bologna one.. so making a stop at the original one that started it all has me very excited!

            Aside from Tre Galli, I can't say I'm too familiar with those other restaurants on your list.. but will do research on your recommendations.

            @Villafavolosa: Thank you - this is great feedback! Yes, I saw that option to add on the local food pairings with the tasting - we will be certain to add this option.

            Did you book way ahead, does it fill up fast? Our time in Bra is limited to one night, so I'd prefer not to back track into Bra/Pollenzo after our stay..

            @Peter Rodgers: Wowzas, thanks for all these recommendations! I will have to gmap the bulk of them, as I'm not 100% familiar with where they are all located in relation to where we are staying/driving through.

            RE "2 essential restaurants" - time to add these to our itinerary!

            Thanks to everyone for your input!

            **** One more question: Sunday night dinner in Alba. Most restaurants (of course) are closed on Sun nights.. is there anything anyone could recommend in Alba on Sunday night -- or anywhere within a 10-15 min drive that is good and open on Sun nights? I know, slim pickins..

            Cheers & thanks again!

            I can smell the truffles, chocolates, and wine already..

            db

            1. re: DistendedBelly

              I highly recommend a visit to the town of Cherasco, south of Bra. Osteria della Rosa Rossa there is quite good and there is can candy shop that sells roasted hazelnuts covered with dark chocolate that are delicious. Cherasco is also quite unique in Italy as the street grid is almost entirely straight lines & right angles. Yet the town does have charm.

              http://www.piemonteitalia.eu/gestored...

              1. re: DavidT

                Hi DavidT - Thanks for this!

                I also had some old notes made months ago that I had nearly forgotten about - is it the same that you speak of?

                Barbero - for baci Cherasco
                Via Vittorio Emanuele, 74
                Cherasco, Italy
                Tel/Fax: 0172-488373

                1. re: DistendedBelly

                  Yes, I do think that is the place.

                  Link to blog on Baci Cherasco from Barbero:

                  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/10/...

                2. re: DavidT

                  I like hazelnuts, but am not a big chocolate fan; my husband craves chocolate but hates nuts--we both loved the chocolate-covered hazelnuts in Cherasco.

                  1. re: DistendedBelly

                    Actually, I think the toughest day to find restaurants open for business is Monday.

                    1. re: Peter Rodgers

                      It depends which town.. but yes, usually both Sun/Mons are tough nights.

                      Closed Suns in Alba include:
                      Catiza
                      La Libera
                      Osteria dell Arco
                      Piazza Duomo

                      ((sad face))

                      -----
                      La Libera
                      Via Elvio Pertinace, 24, Alba (CN), Piedmont 12051, IT

                      Piazza Duomo
                      vicolo dell'Arco 1, angolo piazza Risorgimento, Alba, Piedmont 12051, IT

                3. We had amazing meals at Osteria Dell'Arco and Vigin Mudest, both in Alba. I wouldn't call either fine dining-- but the food is top notch. I spent a week in Alba-- just returned a week ago-- and I'm working on a trip report. I'll post more soon.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                    Thanks for the recommendation! However, dell'Arco's site states they are closed Sundays:

                    http://www.osteriadellarco.it/ita-arc...

                    ((double sad face))

                    1. re: DistendedBelly

                      Sorry, didn't know youw ere only looking for Sunday options in Alba. Vigin Mudest is open Sundays... I was there 2 sundays ago (sigh!).

                      http://www.viginmudest.it/

                    2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                      Peter Rogers: Actually Piemonte is different from most other areas in Italy in that Monday is a day when many restaurants/ trattorie, are open. Not sure why this is so, but it is a fact. For instance, Il Centro in Priocca, Da Renzo in Cervere, and our favorite trattoria around Alba, Osteria Veglio in La Morra, and Ristorante Bovio in La Morra, are all open on Monday. A number of trattorie in Alba are open as well. Villasampaguita can probably fill us in on the Asti area.

                      I've written lengthy, favorable reviews, in the last couple of months on Centro, Da Renzo and Osteria Veglio. With all due respect, disagree with your thought about I Bologna. Don't know when you were last there, but our last meal there was mediocre at best. I would never recommend it.

                      David T: Osteria della Rosa Rossa in Cherasco is good. We find La Torre in the same town to be better in terms of menu, cooking skill, flavor of the ingredients, plating, ambiance, and very much so in the wine list. Also written up here a few months ago. Either one is fine.

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

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

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

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

                      1. re: allende

                        allende,

                        We had lunch at I Bologna in fall of 2009. It was probably our best meal in Piemonte, and we have been planning to return this September, but your comment makes me wonder if it has gone downhill. When did you have your most recent meal there, and how was the food different from before? Can you recommend a similar, but better, place in the vicinit;y? I was planning on lunch on the way from Trento to Alba, so something near Asti would be ideal.

                        1. re: rrems

                          rrems,

                          Our first meal at I Bologna, perhaps a dozen years ago was just fine. We went back last year. Sloppy service. Really pushing too many dishes that we had no interest in; a case of not guiding us to what we might like, but to what they wanted us to eat… that is a no no for us. Formulaic presence in the dining room i.e just going through the motions. Really pushing their own barberas, I mean really pushing them; the rest of the wine list has become very mediocre. Food was okay, certainly nothing to write home about, very disappointing for us after a good first meal. Most importantly trying to be something they are not; the place is a modest trattoria in a great area, which serves local specialties… there was a feeling that they were trying to put that behind them. Piemonte is one of our two favorite areas with regard to eating and certainly our favorite in terms of wine. We're there a lot. As you well know, there are so many really good ristorante/trattorie in the region, that even to accept an average meal seems like a waste. We thought it was going to better than average and unfortunately it wasn't this time.

                          As far as other places in the area. Not far away is Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d’Asti, one of our favorite places for a very long time. Below is what I’ve written about it. Another place is Il Centro in Priocca which I’ve written extensively about on Chowhound. If you were getting off the Autostrada at Asti Est to go to I Bologna, it’ll be roughly the same distance to Priocca and much shorter to Isola d’Asti. Cascinale is open for lunch on weekends and I think Priocca is open for lunch all the time (we have not been to Priocca for lunch). Hope this helps.

                          Il Cascinalenuovo: The brothers Walter (the chef) and Roberto (in charge of the dining room) Ferretto are extremely warm, genial, and generous hosts. The restaurant seats about sixty, with the tables well spaced, in a comfortable, airy and light dining room. Service is gracious without being fawning. The food is traditional Piemontese cooking at a very high level. 

The pasta is etherial; how Walter does it is amazing, but he does. Classic tajarin with a ragu di fegatelli di piccione. Tortelloni ai funghi porcini. Agnolotti "del plin". Ravioli stuffed with eggplant. These are among some that we've had, one better than the next. Other primi might be gnochetti di patate con ragu di maiale e salsiccia; risotto con zucca gialla e tartufo. Antipasti and zuppe might include millefoglie di lingua di vitello e foie gras or perhaps zuppa di fagioli orzo e lenticche con calamari or insalata con funghi porcini and filletto d'anatra con aceto balsamico. Rabbit, pigeon, game and fish are abundant for the main courses.

The menu changes often and everything is seasonal. The flavors of the dishes are strong and vibrant. In the October and November, as you walk into the dining room, there is the unmistakable aroma of white truffles, which are heavily emphasized in dishes at that time of year. Desserts, unusual for Italian restaurants are equally as exquisite as the other courses.

 And then there is the wine list. As one would expect from being right next to Barbaresco and only a stone's throw further to Barolo, it is heavy on both, with all the major producers represented in all the right years. Roberto, however, has gone further and has also sought out less well known producers who make great wines. All the other Piemontese varieties (e.g Barbera) are represented as well. The list is very reasonably priced, certainly with among the lowest markups of any major restaurant in Piemonte. Roberto knows his wines well and is only too happy to speak with you about the list (both Walter and Roberto speak English). 


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

                          1. re: allende

                            This will be a Thursday, and I see Cascinalenuovo is not open for lunch. We are already planning on a dinner at Il Centro. The 45 euro menu at I Bologna is about as high as I want to go. We had a great wine there the last time, and it was only 20 euros. IIRC it was a Barbera d'Asti, from a very small local producer. Any other ideas in the same price range?

                            1. re: rrems

                              Il Centro, although moderate in price, is going to be more expensive than 45 euros, if you have three courses and wine. Additionally, because the menu is recited by Enrico, you're not going to know exactly what the price is. Wonderful meal, extremely well prepared food that is very interesting, great ambiance, excellent wine list (where you see the prices), but it sounds as if it will be somewhat above your budget. That's a shame because it really is a special place, at least for dinner (as I said, we haven't been there for lunch).

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

                              1. re: allende

                                No, I was only referring to lunch. 50 or 60 euros for dinner (for 3 courses not including wine) is fine. I'm very much looking forward to Il Centro. For lunch I am just trying to keep it at or below 45 (again, not including wine, for which I figure 20 to 25). I really appreciate your help.

                                1. re: rrems

                                  You'll be just fine at that price for dinner. As I've note in my posts, it is a wonderful place with interesting dishes (in the sense that there are a number of dishes you don't see much anymore, elsewhere), very robust flavors, Enrico and his son are excellent hosts, the ambiance is very good and there is a feeling of happiness in that dining room.
                                  Have fun.

                            2. re: allende

                              allende,

                              Your comments on I Bologna are disheartening. My last visit, which was perhaps the fifth or sixth time we'd stopped there, was about three years ago, just after they finished their renovations and added rooms. At that point, it did not have the pretensions you describe. The food was good (although basic) and the wine list was superb. They did not push the family barberas, but rather invited us to the cellar to pick out a bottle of barbaresco, recommending an excellent small producer's offering, the price for which was quite reasonable. I would be interested in learning whether others have had the same less than enthralling experience as you have had in recent visits.

                              -----
                              Trattoria I Bologna
                              Via Nicola Sardi 4,, Rocchetta Tanaro (Asti), Piedmont 14030, IT

                              1. re: Peter Rodgers

                                Peter,

                                Perhaps we caught them on a bad day during our second time there. We don't think so, but it can happen. We were very much prepared to like it; if not we wouldn't have gone back a second time.

                                We're in Piemonte probably 20 days a year. There are so many wonderful restaurants/trattorie which, in our opinion, have more than just good food (although basic food, meaning traditional dishes, is what we look for i.e. no Piazza Duomo in Alba for us).

                                Unless someone like you, who has a lot of experience in Piemonte, tells us that it was an off day and we should try it again because it is a really good trattoria, we won't be back to I Bologna. After you go, please report back with an assessment. Thanks.