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Piemonte 2013

We were up in Piemonte again for the long Easter weekend. Over the past 35 years, we've spent an inordinate amount of time there, but only started writing about it six or seven years ago. For the four days, we were joined by two very close friends from London, both buongustai, who lived in Italy for a number of years and have eaten in Piemonte a lot and have a lot of knowledge of Italian food.

I've written about some of our latest trips here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768883, among other places. Chowhound, for whatever reason, deleted a lot of posts between Feb 2011 and May 2012. At the very end of this post is something similar to the original Bardon post and a subsequent one.

Our friends had been to Osteria Veglio in Annunziata (just below La Morra), but not to the three others.

All four meals were outstanding, but the most outstanding was Del Belbo da Bardon, outside of San Marzano Oliveto. To Peter Rodgers: this post is especially for you; hope it holds you until you're back in Piemonte later this year.

It was Saturday at lunch. In the past, we had only been there during the week when there had been many tables of businessmen. Saturday lunch, couples, a few families, young, old... all in love with food. This place is simply spectacular as a trattoria. Nothing that we've ever experienced in a trattoria in more than 35 years comes close... in all the areas of Italy that we've been to beginning with my trip in 1975 to Peppino Cantarelli's great trattoria in Samboseto. It's not only the pages and pages and pages of Barolos, Barbarescos and Barberas (and everything else from Piemonte). It's not only the owners way of serving their patrons. It's not only the food (there are other places that have better food, but this food is very good trattoria food). It's not only the ambiance. It's the overall feeling of being in a very special place, but with no fuss made by the people who run it. I would say it is a place of simple pleasures. If you want to go to only one place in Piemonte, not far from Alba and Asti, for us, this is the place we'd recommend.

We drank well. Two bottles of one of our favorite Barberas, Giacomo Conterno's Cascina Francia, this time in the 2010 vintage (later that afternoon we bought a lot more in La Morra). When we finished the two bottles and needed some more wine for the cheese, there were the two brothers, opening up a wonderful Barbera, a 2006 Correggia, and charging us for only the two glasses we drank from that bottle.

No full bollito misto on Saturdays, but you could have many "bollito" meats from the secondi. Among the more memorable dishes we had were: involtini di pepperoni; raviioli del plin (one of the standard Piemontese pasta dishes, but here made fantastically well); pasta e fagioli with the most flavorful Piemontese beans; vitello arrosto; coniglio al forno served with carrots and spinach; asparagus with fondue; and an incredible finanziera (all those wonderful organ meats) as rich as could be. And a wonderful cheese trolley. Among the other dishes we could have had: tajarin ai porri; agnolotti quadrati ai tre arrosti; stracotto al Barbera; stinco di vitello and stinco di maiale.

We can't resist this place and expect to be back next month.

LA TORRE IN CHERASCO. Good Friday dinner. As we've written before, La Torre is in a new location, not far from the old place. Three very open dining rooms, light and airy, seating about forty. It was totally full, with a lot of younger couples and groups of friends. It was a lively evening with everyone seeming to be animated and having a great time. One of the owner brothers, and one other of the staff handle the dining rooms with friendliness and an easy professionalism.

We had two bottles of 2007 Barbaesco from the extensive and fairly priced wine list; Cigliuti "Serraboella"; Produttori Barbaresco "Ovello". Both were very good, but, of course, too young. We wanted to try them before we bought some. Our meal was excellent in all ways. Marco, the brother in the kitchen, uses first rate ingredients and cooks them well i.e. very simply. His dishes are extremely flavorful, both because of the ingredients and his care in the cooking. The menu, which is recited by his brother, changes pretty much every day; it is all seasonal (e.g. no late season truffles). His plating is attractive without being fussy. 6-8 or so each of antipasti, primi and secondi. Lumache are a staple because of Cherasco. Some of the dishes we had were: a fabulous risotto al Barolo for two... rich beyond belief, just fantastic; pigs feet (offal is big here; the first time we went I had a great finanziera); gnocchi di patate al Castelmagno; my wife had an excellent cheese plate for her main course... eight Piemontese selections; an excellent fish dish (the fish was lama which we had never heard of before) with a crust of parsley and breadcrumbs. Some of the other dishes offered were trippa Piemontese; del plin; tajarin al sugo di fegatini; coniglio ai pepperoni. We had very good desserts: a blackberry sorbetto and a really excellent panna cotta.

This place is a gem. Do not be put off by the recited menu. They know enough English to make it easy for you. Close to Alba, La Morra and Bra.

OSTERIA VEGLIO IN ANNUNZIATA, about 2 km. down the hill from La Morra. One of our favorite trattorie and it's so easy to go to because we stay in La Morra.

A normal lunch crowd with perhaps five other tables taken. Too chilly to sit outside on the splendid terrace overlooking the vineyards. The owners are warm amd caring; no attitude here (or for that matter, very rarely in Piemonte). Full disclosure: one of the owners is a close friend of our closest friend in La Morra, so we're partial. However, we'd be partial to this place even if that were not the case. There is a lot to be partial about. We've been there many many times and have always had very good meals whether at lunch or dinner, whether the restaurant was full or we were the only ones there. Very good ingredients and simple trattoria cooking, but with attention. The menu changes seasonally, not more often. As I've mentioned previously, there are always a number of vegetable dishes, often a soup, and many times greens (sometimes you have to ask if there are any greens as a contorno). We drank two 2010 Barberas, one a Sandrone and the other Mauro Veglio's Cascina Nuova, both excellent (later, we bought a lot of each in La Morra to take back here). Among the dishes we had: Vitello tonnato; del plin nel tavagliolo; a very good verdure al cartoccio... really special. They were out of the maiolino, so two of us had the baby Spring lamb (as one of my friends said, "the lamb was incredibly flavorful") along with a dish of that wonderful green that you rarely see in restaurants "barbabuc." A few Barolo Chinatos and before we knew it almost three hours had a gone by. A wonderful leisurely lunch on an overcast day in the Barolo vineyards.

IL CENTRO IN PRIOCCA. Easter lunch in Priocca. The weather for Easter was spectacular. From the piazza in La Morra it was blue sky and crystal clear. The snow covered French Alps rose majestically in the west and you could see the Italian Alps stretching from Monte Rosa east. Who would have thunk. The perfect place to go to in general and for Easter lunch in particular. Enrico had told us it was going to be a set menu in contrast to a la carte which is the norm at Il Centro. What a set menu.

The restaurant was, of course, totally full, some large family gatherings, but a number of tables of couples and two couples. Everyone seemed to be in a festive mood and the two dining rooms were lively. Enrico recited the set menu, so that if anyone did not want a particular dish Barbara would try her best to change it.

We started with two Barberas, both 2010; Alfieri's "La Tota" and the Barbera d'Alba, Ca Viola; It was not enough for the long meal and so we finished with another bottle, the superb Giacomo Bologna 2007 'Ai Suma" Barbera. Wonderful wines all. For the meal, among other dishes, we had: A piece of ombrina, lightly cooked with a sauce that included mussels; asparagus with a light sauce with a base of robiola; slices of capriolo with spring vegetables; an excellent risotto alle erbe; tortelli stuffed with rabbit and a red cabbage sauce; lamb, of course, served with an etherial polenta dolce... a fantastic dish; and for dessert, cassata Piemontese, again... just fantastic.

It really doesn't get much better than that. Informal, but flawless service. A chef who really knows what she is doing with her first rate ingredients (hint: she lets the ingredients shine), and a happy group of people enjoying themselves.

From earlier posts on Bardon.

Da Bardon" is set in the countryside and is family run. Brothers, sisters, parents, daughters, 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 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 mellanzzane flan, the vitello tonnato, coniglio al forno, financiera, bolito misto, or in the fall, eggs with a liberal shaving of white truffles, the care and intensity of flavors was wonderful, reflecting the very high quality of ingredients. 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 (family) is very knowledgeable about the wine list and food. It is a lovely and comfortable dining room seating perhaps 35. 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.

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.

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  1. What a lovely report! I am going to have to do some work on justifying a visit to Piedmont, since my husband's primary interests in touring (though he does like good food and wine) are cultural - art and architecture - and good walks.

    1. To say the very least, Allende,reading your report makes me wonder why I should not head for the airport this evening and hop on the next plane to Malpensa.

      In due course, however, we will have six days -- and if we are not wholly overindulgent -- time for perhaps eight to ten meals. My current list of gastronomic targets is as follows:

      -- Il Centro

      -- Da Bardon

      -- Il Cascinale Nuovo

      -- Da Renzo*

      -- Osteria Veglio

      -- Le Torre

      -- I Bologna (?)

      What might I be missing?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Peter Rodgers


        You're not missing anything as far as I can see. We hope to be in the Alba area again next month and will be going, once again, to Bardon and to another place (that I won't mention now), that we haven't been to in probably ten years. We liked it then (that's why we're going back), and if it is good, will write about it; in fact, will probably do so even if we don't like it this time.

        1. re: allende

          Hi Allende,

          Did you ever post about the restaurant you mention above but didn't name?

      2. Hi allende,
        Thank you for your details and recommendations. I am going to the same region in a few weeks. Was wondering, where in La Morra did you stay - as I am wanting to stay in that area for the proximity to the restaurants as well. thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wkvancouver

          We stay with a good friend in La Morra so can't be of help. So sorry. There are many places in the town. Just do a Google search.

        2. Allende. Sir, you are a Godsend. My husband (a Florentine) and I have followed your advice in the past with excellent (an understatement) results. But our trip to the Piedmont region in January topped all (thus far). Being devout Allende followers at this point, our 3 night/4 day feeding frenzy was designed to sample as many of your favorites as possible. We hit Il Centro, Da Bardon (for lunch), Il Cascinale Nuovo and Da Renzo. All, of course, were spectacular, with our favorites being Il Casinale Nuovo (in addition to the amazing food and atmosphere, really loved Chef Walter Ferretto, a lovely and charming man who chatted with us at length after dinner), and Da Bardon (which we would never have discovered on our own!). Grazie ancora, Allende, for taking the time to write all of your immensely helpful posts.

          2 Replies
          1. re: pastahound

            pastahound. Glad you enjoyed the restaurants and thanks very much for the note. It is always appreciated and makes posting worthwhile.

            1. re: allende

              For years, my wife had been looking at the restaurant Bunet (in Bergolo, about 25 miles southeast of Alba) in both the Osterie d'Italia and Gambero Rosso's Ristoranti d'Italia. We hadn't gone because it was always a little bit out of the way. Last week we had the opportunity. It was a smart decision.

              Bergolo is on top of a hill, just up from the town of Cortemilia. The 360 view is spectacular. Rolling hills, fruit trees (which were in bloom) over the valleys, hazelnut trees and more hazelnut trees and a terrain very different from much of the area closer to Alba. Bergolo contains just a few houses, a couple of stores and most importantly, Albergo e Ristorante 'L Bunet. Emilio Banchero owns the restaurant started by his parents. He is passionate about food and wine and extremely knowledgeable about both. He is an outgoing and friendly guy, willing to talk if you want; willing to leave you alone if that's what you desire (he speaks English well).

              The dining room seats perhaps forty. We were the only ones there last Wednesday. Emilio was expecting a full house the following day, April 25th. Liberation Day, a holiday here in Italy (and, of course, that made for a long ponte, with two more ponte coming up this week with the May 1st. holiday falling on a Wednesday... in fact many are taking a 10 day long ponte :) ).

              Despite being the only ones there, we were offered the full menu which is very different (different good!) from many places in Piemonte. We started with three antipasti: a vitello tonnato but the twist was with a salsa antica Piemontese (mainly vegetable based and delicious); a soft cooked egg (with a yoke of dark orange) on top of mushrooms, with preserved mushrooms on the side; and lastly, a puff pastry stuffed with pureed asparagus and sauced with a light fonduta filled with asparagus tips. All three were very well done, particularly the torta of asparagus. Asparagus were everywhere on this trip. Near Canelli we were out walking and saw three men just off the road in a bog like area. They were pulling from among the trees and bushes in the bog, what, on closer viewing was truly wild asparagus. Normally we see furtive mushroom hunters; here it was asparagus.

              We were offered a choice of four primi and chose ravioli del plin with butter and sage and a truly remarkable pasta dish, mezzalune stuffed with seirass del fen (like ricotta). Excellent, excellent pasta and a stuffing that was as rich as could be. Four choices for secondi and we both had a really flavorful boned and rolled rabbit seasoned with thyme, and excellent carrots and spinach as the vegetable accompaniment. An outstanding selection of raw milk cheeses followed and then for the two desserts: panna cotta without sugar; an apple ice cream made with goat's milk (again, really good and different).

              Service by Emilio was casual, but professional and the meal was well paced. A very good wine list, well chosen,and fairly priced. We had a 2007 Pellisero Barbaresco, still a little young (but we wanted to try a bottle before we bought more in Alba), but very good.

              There are eight comfortable and clean rooms and I would suggest, if you go, to stay (you are in the middle of nowhere and those roads are narrow and filled with turns). Very good wi-fi and surprisingly good cell phone reception. At breakfast the next morning, there was a hazelnut torte, as flavorful and as moist as could be.

              We had a great time. Emilio is a delightful host. The food was a bit different and excellently prepared. We're looking forward to returning soon.

              Two of our other meals this time are favorite favorites. For the first time we went to Da Bardon for dinner rather than lunch. Lunch, dinner, doesn't matter... this place is great. Different diners of course, a number of families, all of whom seem to be regulars. There was a table of Dutch, but all Italians except for us. I won't bore everyone with all the food and wine. Menu changes daily but those slow cooked ribs were decadent and those vegetable stuffed, meat sauced tortelli were truly spectacular. Lots of asparagus and, of course, all the stinco etc. Spectacular cheese trolley. The wine list, as I've said before, is not to be believed. We had a 2004 Barbaresco Bruno Giacosa, Asili... it doesn't get much better than that bottle. We had been there a few weeks before (see above) and we were wondering if it would be overkill. Never!

              At lunch, on a bright warm sunny day, we found ourselves at one of our favorite trattorie around La Morra, Osteria Veglio in Annunziata. Sitting outside on that terrace, eating another excellent meal (see first post) with the sun streaming down, looking at the great Barolo vineyards below and the La Morra vineyards above ( think Roberto Voerzio, Ceretto, Mauro Veglio, and our favorite producer Elio Altare), this was the definition of bliss.

          2. Allende,

            We are nearing our next visit to Piemonte (it has been two years -- much too long). All told, we have six nights in the region in mid-October, before heading to the Riviera for a few days. While I tried to find your "mystery" place in La Morra, I never was quite sure and therefore booked into the seemingly new Villa Pattono, near Costigliole d'Asti. I would be interested to know if you or anyone else has tried it.

            In theory, we could plan as many as 12 meals during our visit, but more likely than not, we will do six or eight, filling in with a picnic or a pizza or two at night (speaking of which, do you have an favorite pizzerie?). My must list consists of Il Centro, La Torre, Antica Corona Reale da Renzo, Da Bardon and Osteria Veglio. To that core, I am considering booking at Cascinale Nuovo and possibly returning to some old haunts like I Bologna, Guido Polenzo (I miss Piero Alciati, but several meals there did not quite do it for us) and perhaps Antine or the place in Canale (the name escapes me).

            How am I doing? And what should I be adding to my wish list?

            20 Replies
            1. re: Peter Rodgers

              Hi Peter,

              Good to hear from you. You're doing fine as far as the five restaurants in your "must" list. Those would be our five as well, each and every one of them.

              If the restaurant in Canale that you were thinking about is San Marco, I would definitely go. We were there this past April and had a very good meal. Excellent menu, execution, service and a more than decent wine list. The same lovely owners as when we first went there 20 years ago. Of course, we were coming off a meal the day before at Da Bardon and were going to eat at Da Bardon the following day, so...

              We did not go to Cascinale for the first time in 25 years (that's quite a streak). Walter has changed the menu a bit (looking on line and his emails) and it looked as if he had a few fusion dishes. On the other hand, we had friends who went in the spring (and had been there before) and said it was still great and the same as before, and that a few fusion dishes didn't spoil the overwhelmingly traditional dishes on the menu.

              We don't like Antine'. Below is what I posted a few years ago.

              If you post an email address, I'll tell you the place in La Morra. It's just too small a place to post here. We do not know Villa Pattono. Isn't Costigliole on the wrong side of Alba re going to Da Renzo, La Torre etc?

              We'll be in Piemonte for just two days in early September, unfortunately only to Da Bardon and Veglio (open Sunday night). I don't expect any changes (these places never change), but if there are, will let you know.

              From high, high up in The Dolomiti,


              ps Not that anyone comes to the Alta Badia, although they should, but there is a great new restaurant up here. We've been twice and expect to go a third time. If it holds up, I'll write it up.

              Dinner. Antine’ in Barbaresco. We’ve been going to Piemonte (a lot, perhaps on average three times a year for more than 30 years) and this is by far the biggest disappointment. Next door to Gaia. Saturday night and only three tables of two (including us). Perhaps that is because “La Signora” is so off-putting. Not one smile the entire evening (and as you can see from posts in other threads on Piemonte, it’s not the first time). Just unpleasant, as in “I never wanted to be in the restaurant business” unpleasant. Very good menu. We ordered three courses and La Signora was a bit taken aback, as if no one does that there anymore. The antipasti (lumache and coniglio “four ways”) were very good, but why those plates which look so unbalanced that you think they’re going to topple? The primi, really poor! The “homemade” maccheroncini could have come out of a box and the Tajarin were an embarrassment (A few miles down the road in Isola D’Asti is Il Cascinalenuovo, also highly rated in Gambero Rosso and also with a star in the Michelin. Cascinale puts Antine’ to shame as far as cooking goes and certainly in terms of ambiance). I won’t bother anyone with the main courses and dessert; mediocre and not worthy of a restaurant with this reputation. A bottle of 2004 Albino Rocca’s Barbaresco (Lareto) for 68 Euros was delicious, as well it should be. One other thing to give you an example of how this place is run. We have never, ever been in restaurant of this purported character where a radio (yes I mean a radio!) was playing through the loud speakers, with a program full of talk radio, and La Signora didn’t give a damn. Simply unbelievable. Perhaps the radio was on to cut the monastic atmosphere in the dining room. We would never go back and would tell friends to stay away.

              1. re: allende

                And so good to hear from you as well. The restaurant in Canale that I was trying to remember is All'Enoteca. I do remember San Marco, but it has been many years since our last visit. You are right; it was always good, but hard to find.

                Please do send me a note about the hotel: peter.rodgers48@gmail.com.

                1. re: Peter Rodgers

                  Had a wonderful dinner at Osteria Veglio this past Sunday. Warm enough to sit out on the terrace. Magical, as the sun went down on the Barolo vineyards and still more magical around 10 PM to see the lights in the different parts of The Langhe, particularly toward Alba which is only 10 km. away.

                  The kitchen was in fine form and Fiorenza Di Benedetto is a wonderful host. Started with: peperonini (the small round kind which look like very miniature pumpkins, wonderful flavor) ripieni con pane, erbette, salsa di acciughe; and Il Mare in scatola (sarde ed acciughe, insalatina di fagioli borlotti freschi). Then tagliata di vitello, as flavorful as can be, with perfectly cooked vegetables (if it's on the menu, try it) and tajarin al ragu. Dessert: a sfogliatina di mele and peaches stuffed with a light chocolate cream. Excellent desserts. A super 2010 Barbera, Elio Grasso one of our favorite barbera producers. Veglio, as I've said many times before, is a wonderful example of a great Piemontese trattoria.

                  This past Monday, lunch at Da Bardon. Had a great lunch, as we always do. It was warm enough to sit outside on the terrace. Sitting at a table under a very large canopy (actually a huge umbrella), looking at the vineyards, eating that meal and drinking that wine, it was heavenly. Stuffed peppers to start (completly different from Veglio the night before) and a plate of plin (Da Bardon's plin are, for us, the best in Piemonte). Then a dish of roasted faraona and one of roasted rabbit (tell me where there is a more flavorful roasted rabbit and I'll be there tomorrow), both plates with perfectly cooked vegetables.

                  As mentioned before, Bardon has an incredible cheese trolley, so we had a cheese course as well. Ask to see the trolley if you want the cheese course. Had a great, great Barbaresco, 2007 La Spinetta, Starderi, spectacular. It's a simple trattoria, but the flavors (really the intensity of the flavors!) of the dishes are unbelievable. The wine list is second to none for a trattoria, and we know of only one restaurant in Piemonte that can match it (and the food at that restaurant is mediocre). The ambience is wonderful, the family is wonderful... everything about the place is special.

                  And then it happened again! Really... twice in two weeks.

                  At the end of the long lunch at Bardon, I went over to a table of four Americans (two lovely couples) who were sitting on the other side of the terrace from us; we could hear their voices. Politely apologizing for interrupting them, I asked "why were they here on a Monday for lunch; very few Americans are ever here?" (we've never seen any). J and J (husband and wife; am not going to mention their real names), said there is this guy allende on Chowhound who keeps saying that this is a really great trattoria... and you know the rest. J and J were showing friends from DC the glories of Piemonte. They now live in Switzerland. First time at Da Bardon and they loved it. They couldn't believe the wine list and the food and the service and the ambiance. They are very knowledgeable about food and wine, have traveled to Piemonte many times, have been to Osteria Veglio (and others) several times and were going to La Torre in Cherasco for the first time the following evening. My wife and I then took a short walk toward San Marzano Oliveto and when we came back at 3:30, they were still there enjoying a bottle of dessert wine. Had another nice chat. Lovely, lovely couple. A small world. Hopefully J will chime in about Bardon and the other places.

                  The first time, two weeks ago: We were having dinner in a restaurant in San Cassiano with friends who live there.
                  On the other side of the dining room, there is a young American couple with two adorable children; we could hear the voices. As we and they were leaving, I went over and said, "I couldn't help but hear that you are American. May I ask where you're from. We don't often see Americans here with children (although it is heaven for kids)?" They were from Brooklyn and had come to San Cassiano because there were enthusiastic reviews on the net. We talked for a minute, established that my wife and I had been here many times before and spend summers in the town. "S" then asked, "should we eat at ? (name withheld)" I said no and explained why I wouldn't. She then said "we've used Chowhound and there is this person who said we should go to Pre de Costa, what do you think? His name was allende." My wife had come over to the table and she pointed at me and said "of course you should go to Pre de Costa, it's our favorite trattoria up here." We talked for a bit and had a drink the next day.

                  Picolo mondo.

                  1. re: allende


                    We're going, we're going already! (Bardon and Veglio, that is.) (Also Centro and da Renzo.)

                    1. re: allende

                      Good stuff Allende. By now I think I saved this thread on every pc I use including at work. Contemplating a trip sometime next fall and at this point all I got on the agenda is truffles, wine and Juventus. Got no idea what else. Curious if I find enough interesting attraction in that part of Italy to keep the wife happy

                      1. re: allende

                        Me three. Going end of October. One request. Can you post approximate cost for lunch (or dinner) for two with a good bottle of Barolo, or wine pairings, if offered, or both. Would appreciate that info for at least these 4 and others if you are so inclined.


                        1. re: jock

                          Tell me which four you are referring to and I'll be happy to post. All different price ranges.

                          1. re: allende

                            The four I had in mind are: Da Bardon, Il Centro, Veglio and La Torre.

                            Since I have you I would also be interested in More & Machine.

                            Also, had one of the most memorable meals in my life about 15+ years ago at Boccadivino. Is it still good and worth considering on a 6 day stay in Alba?

                            BTW, as a certifiable wine nut I really appreciate your inclusion of comments about wine.

                            1. re: jock

                              Bardon: The check was 260 Euros for the two of us, for the two courses plus the cheese course. The food was 60, the 2007 Barbaresco was 200 (obviously a special bottle). If we had both had dessert, it would have added 25-30 to the total.

                              There are literally hundreds of Barolos and Barbarescos (and Barberas and everything else; but if you go to Piemonte, why drink anything else) at Bardon. The price range is all over the place, depending on the producer and vintage. Being a certifiable wine nut, you understand that. The great thing about the list is twofold. First, you will not believe the extensiveness of it, in and of itself, but particularly so considering this is a trattoria. Second, you will not believe the reasonableness of the prices. In most cases just slightly over retail in Piemonte. Unbelievable. That holds true for all the other places mentioned.

                              Veglio and La Torre are both about the same for food, perhaps a touch more. Veglio has just an average list, but always enough in both Barolo and Barbera. Our 2010 Barbera Elio Grasso was about 30 Euros. Right up the hill are Elio Altare (one of our favorite Barolos) and other greats like Voerzio etc. Fiorenza has many of their wines (and she knows them all personally because they come to eat at the osteria). Her list is constantly changing. If you don't see something, ask. If you don't speak Italian, her waiter speaks English. In fact, there is no English menu (bravo) and he explains to the non-speakers, anything they don't understand.

                              La Torre has a good list, nothing great, but certainly enough and in all the right years.

                              Il Centro is a bit more expensive for food. Let's say 100 Euros for two, for three courses. Enrico throws in lots of amuses which are not charged for. This is a great restaurant and if you read the back posts, you'll see that the food is a big cut above the other three (all trattoire). Everything about the food is outstanding because Elide is a great cook.

                              There is a great wine list at Centro and Enrico is very knowledgeable, very. The list is not nearly as extensive as Bardon (nothing can match Da Bardon except for one other restaurant and you don't want to go to that place), but there are an incredible number of older vintages of Barolo, as well as more recent vintages After the meal, ask to see the cellar. It's great. In all of these places, as I said, the pricing is really good, but at Il Centro it is even better than the others.

                              Is Boccondivino still good. Yes. We were there for dinner this past February (and have been there many other times). Menu is straight forward and well prepared. Is the food as good as Bardon, La Torre, and Veglio? No (try the financiera at La Torre or Bardon and you'll see what I mean). But it is very good nonetheless. Definitely worth considering on a six day stay. Far, far better than anything in Alba. Let's put it this way. I wouldn't mind eating at Boccadivino once every two weeks. The menu always changes, the wine list is fine, the staff is very nice, good ambience.

                              More and Macine is something different. It is a true osteria, menu changes daily. Simple food, well prepared. No wine list to speak of, but always something good on the chalkboard (or go downstairs and sell what's in storage; you can get a bottle of anything you want). We use it extensively if we've had a big lunch and only want one dish plus wine in the evening or if we want a little something (e.g. a bowl of soup) and a glass of wine for lunch, if we're going out in the evening.

                              Hope this helps. Anything else, just write. I do hope you'll report back after your trip.

                              1. re: allende

                                Many thanks. Another question. More and Machine sounds perfect for an evening meal after a big lunch. Only problem, it is in La Morra. Can you recommend a couple of the best equivalents in Alba where we will be staying?

                                1. re: jock

                                  We've tried everything in Alba, some more than once. I'm sure there is something that is the equivalent, but we've never found it (i.e. something casual, well prepared simple food, a pleasant staff, good ambience).

                                  We think Alba is a wonderful town, particularly to walk around in and for the Saturday market (although we much prefer Bra's Friday market). We just think the restaurants and trattorias are all mediocre in and of themselves... and particularly compared to places right around the town.

                                  1. re: allende


                                    Thanks for your input. We will be in La Morra 5 nights and Torino for 2 the last 7 days of October. We plan to do our main meal each day at lunch.

                                    A final, hopefully, request for guidance.

                                    1. Appropriate dress for both men and women?

                                    2. The biggie. Area specific tipping practice. I have looked at the threads and advice seems all over the board (as it seems to be in France). I will be retuning but not often enough to be recognized. Don't wish to seem either cheap or foolish.

                                    1. re: jock

                                      Regarding tipping in europe. My wife is from Paris and I spend a fair bit of time dining in Europe. I follow her recommendations. Generally at a cafe or bar leaving "a few coins" is all that is expected. If at a better place such as a high end brasserie or bistro or restaurant then something on the order of 5-10% would be fine. At a michelin restaurant then the 15% standard would be expected. I've applied this rule across France, Spain, Italy, Austria recently and met no negative experiences. Americans in general are known as excellent tippers especially compared to the chinese and russians. So chances are you will leave more than they expect.

                                      Dress in Alba ranges from some tourists in fairly casual clothes to the perfectly attired. If at place other than a michelin star you could be fairly casual and no one would be grossly out of place. My personal preference is to be more dressed up than less but I consistently noted people in very casual clothes this summer. That said no one was in shorts at the wine tastings.

                                    2. re: allende

                                      It's difficult to interpret your comment because I don't know what you expect by well prepared simple food. I agree that there are many restaurants in all the different towns in the Piemonte region which are worth dining at. ( I hate ending sentences with a preposition. Sorry about that)

                                    3. re: jock

                                      @Allende and @Jock,

                                      We will be there soon too and plan to visit some of your favorites! We'll be in Piemonte Nov 1st-4th, ER region prior to that. Perhaps you will run into us all if you are in the area again :)

                                      I have the same question as Jock but in regards to Cherasco. We plan on eating at La Torre one night but the other 2 day we will eat larger lunches. Is there anyplace similar to More and Macine in Cherasco where we would be comfortable eating lightly?

                                      1. re: JazzyK

                                        Not that I know of. Where are you going in ER?

                                        1. re: allende

                                          We will visit Verona for one day and then Montova for a day. Then we will be based in Reggio Emilia for 4 nights. We plan on
                                          Locanda Mariella and Hostaria da Ivan for lunches.

                            2. re: allende

                              so great to put a face to the name Allende! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our chat with you and your lovely wife. Osteria Veglio was superb as ever, and Bardon a delight...I cant imagine bookending lunch and dinner at 2 more authentically fabulous trattorias in my life...the quality and elegance combined with the friendliness and subtle sophistication are classically Italian in my book...and the wines are insane....later in the week we travelled to Vienna and dined at Steiereck (comments for another thread) , and there was no comparison...viva Italia, and viva Allende, the guru of Piemonte ;-)

                              1. re: jeffreycrowne


                                That was very kind of you. What a delight and surprise to run into you and Jennifer and make your acquaintance. The serendipity of it all.

                                Wouldn't it be great to be sitting on Bardon's terrace having that meal and drinking those wines from that incredible list! Perhaps the four of us will have a chance to be there at the same time in the spring.

                                S (aka Allende)

                                1. re: allende

                                  Keep in touch and lets make it happen....I sent you an e mail a couple weeks ago , not sure if you saw it....regards


                      2. Oh my lord Allende! I so want to be there.....now checking to see if I can extend my Feb trip to Barcelona briefly into northern Italy.....it makes Roman food seem so...meh

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PixieM

                          @ jock

                          Casual dress for all the places I've recommended. Slacks, nice jeans, polo shirt, sweater... all of the above provided it's neat. No shorts. If you're out walking before lunch it's nice to change from walking/running shoes to regular shoes, but it's not necessary (as you'll see with Italian men). Main thing is to be presentable and neat, because if one dresses like a slob or in shorts, the treatment will be fine, but ...

                          Tipping. Let's go over the places I've recommended. Bardon: all family, no tipping; Cascinale: all family in charge, no tipping; Il Priocca, most likely Elide and Enrico's children will be serving, but if not, and if you want, a small tip (10) E is fine; Veglio, the young waiter is not family (and he is the one who speaks English for all you non Italian speakers), everyone else is... we give him 10, but then again, we go back often... he'll appreciate it, but not necessary... you would probably be the only one to tip him that day. La Torre in Cherasco: if there is a young waitress there she is not family (everyone else is) and Veglio applies; Da Renzo, no family in the dining room to serve, so again Veglio applies.

                          In general, servers in Piemonte do not expect anything, but are always happy to receive it. Never leave a tip if it is family.

                          Play it by ear. If in doubt and you want to leave something, give it to the owner and say it is for the staff. The main thing is not to go into a restaurant have one dish, eat all the bread you can, drink a Coke but no wine, dress sloppily and leave. It sounds funny, but that is exactly how too many Americans, Brits and (particularly) Germans behave in The Langhe. We unfortunately see this more than we should.

                          The Langhe and the area around it (e.g. Asti) is a great place in Italy. The people are wonderful, always trying to be helpful. They are polite. Tourism is important, but doesn't dominate a very vibrant area. Restaurant owners are proud of what they do and like to be treated with respect. Respect and politeness toward the people working in the restaurant counts a lot more to them than money.

                          Hope this helps.

                        2. Given your wine consumption, do you worry about the increased patrols for DUI in Italy?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Montecalvo

                            Sorry to disagree with you with regard to tipping (your comment above). See my comments above. If I dine at a Michelin star restaurant around Alba or Asti (Priocca, Cascinale and Da Renzo), 15% is totally unexpected and would be "another rich American" who doesn't know anything. This is not New York or Paris. At Priocca and Cascinale it would be insulting because family serves.

                            "Given my wine consumption?" Not sure what you mean.

                            1. re: allende

                              I don't think we are in any disagreement. My statements about tipping were meant as broad generalizations and were also qualified by the statement that americans generally overtip in Europe. You have very specific knowledge which is quite relevant to specific restaurants. So I don't believe we have different views. I would gladly follow your recommendations at those restaurants.

                              Regarding drinking. As I read your piece, it occurred to me that two bottles of wine (red) between two people at lunch would definitely place both of them above the BAL (blood alcohol level) for any country. I am very prudent when drinking and driving as such I only have one glass of wine if I am the driver. Italy and France are both making a concerted effort to increase their respective enforcement of DUI laws. My question was how do you deal with that much wine at lunch?

                              1. re: Montecalvo

                                Oh, Bardon. I said "We drank well. Two bottles of one of our favorite Barberas, Giacomo Conterno's Cascina Francia, this time in the 2010 vintage (later that afternoon we bought a lot more in La Morra)." And your question was " how do you deal with that much wine at lunch?" because it occurred to you "that two bottles of wine (red) between two people at lunch would definitely place both of them above the BAL (blood alcohol level) for any country."

                                You didn't have a BAL way over the limit when you were reading and writing that did you? :), and missed what I had said earlier "For the four days, we were joined by two very close friends from London, both buongustai, who lived in Italy for a number of years and have eaten in Piemonte a lot and have a lot of knowledge of Italian food."

                                So two bottles were for four of us, not two. That particular day my wife drove after lunch because I (and one of my friends) had still another glass after the two bottles were finished. Easy to do when you have that fantastic list, right Jeff C?

                                We do not drive when impaired. If it is just the two of us, as it most often is, either my wife or I will make sure not to have more than two glasses of wine. We typically do not have the complimentary aperitivo before a meal because we find most of them not up to the standards of the wine we want, in Piemonte always red. Nor do we typically have a disgestivo.

                                Most importantly, however, we tend to have meals that typically last 2 1/2, 3 or four hours. We like to enjoy our food and wine in a leisurely way.

                                There is no question in our mind that if we drink leisurely, two glasses of wine over 3 or 4 hours presents no problem with regard to impairment.

                                But let's say we still feel the wine. Then, what we usually do is take a nice long walk after lunch. We change our shoes and walk for an hour or more. In fact this is what we do at Bardon almost every time we're there and we aren't even impaired. As I've mentioned in other posts of Bardon, there is a wonderful walk from Bardon to San Marzano Oliveto. It is on a paved back road with almost no cars. It goes through the vineyards from the restaurant to the town. Wonderful walk and does the trick. We also do this at most other places when we have lunch.

                                Let me know if that answers your question.

                                1. re: allende


                                  Thanks again. Your responses are PRECISELY what I was looking for. (oops ended in a preposition) Re dress. Mostly wanted to know if coat and tie are called for. Thankfully not. Tipping sounds somewhat less expected than in Paris. Also fine with me. Always tip in cash everywhere in the world even when I pay tab with cc.

                                  I love my vino but never drive impaired. After 50 years of passionate pursuit of wine, nebbiolo is my desert island red grape. On a visit about 12 years ago with Marco de Grazia I visited about 15 of his top producers at the time. I can hardly wait to return.

                                  Even though recently I mostly go to France it is getting easier to find bad and mediocre food there. I have never had a bad meal in Italy!!

                                  1. re: allende

                                    When we know that a fabulous wine list is in store (which is often of course) we always arrange a car....15/20 eur car fare is well worth the investment to relax and indulge in wines that would be double or triple in any major city in the world. To not take advantage of that would be a crime in Piemonte, believe me , and of course Bardon is a perfect example of that. Run, dont walk there, and enjoy.

                            2. @Allende
                              My wife and I will be in La Morra from late in after on Nov 9 (after flying into Milan and driving) until morning Nov 14. My question is how early would you make reservations for dinner. We have one meal already planned at Bovia. But leaves four other nights, but probably don't have your budget for every night. Would be safe to make once we get into town or should I book Saturday night dinner before we fly over?

                              And would love to hear any La Morra village new places you may have seen or eaten at. We are renting an apartment in town. my email is my user name @gmail.com. Would to pick your brain, only if its ok.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Dijon9955

                                Sent you an email.

                                For others. There are some very good trattorie near La Morra that do not cost a lot. These are the places we eat at all the time. Veglio, La Torre, Bardon are examples. Not expensive at all for food and choose your wine price.

                                I'm mystified at Bovio (not Bovia). Aside from the view and the great wine list, why there?

                                1. re: allende

                                  We are in Piemonte now and will report more fully in due course. For now, let me add endorsements for Veglio and da Bardon. We also had a superb lunch at I Bologna in Rocetta for a reasonable price. For your chance to splurge, think about da Renzo. We had an extraordinary dinner there tonight. Or Il Centro, where we are headed on Wednesday.

                                  Allende, we shared our lunch at Veglio with Seth and his wife.

                                  1. re: Peter Rodgers


                                    So glad to hear to hear about Veglio and Bardon and Da Renzo. Glad you and Seth and spouses were at lunch together at Veglio. Only wish A and I could have been there.

                                    Glad about I Bologna. Very good to hear. We'll try it again soon.

                                    My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had three great meals at Il Centro, Bardon and Veglio in the past few days. One right after another, all different, all excellent.

                                  2. re: allende

                                    That should have been I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro.

                                2. Wednesday. We arrive Milano at 9am after 14 hours in the air and another 7 waiting in airports. Pick up a Fiat 500 and drive to Alba in overcast and light rain. Alba is decidedly quiet. Likely due to both rain and time of day. Strolling around Alba we see Vincafe which has been mentioned here. Seems more lively than other places we pass so we decide to give it a try.

                                  We both have the crudo and tajerin ragu. The crudo is ground rather than knife cut and likely not veal. Still, both were tasty and more than acceptable. A glass of Prosecco, one of Barbera and 2 of Nebbiolo (50e). The house red wines by the glass: Vietti Perbaco and Vietti Brebera d'Asti Tre Vigne were excellent and better than the food. Verdict; nothing special but just fine.

                                  Thursday. After a long, much needed night's sleep we awake to no rain but lots of fog. Up the hill to La Morra we pass many of my favorite wine producers: Grasso, Revello, Corino, Altare, Veglio and Molino. La Morra is completely fogged in. From the very top at the overlook where one can normally see Serralunga and Monforte one can see precisely nothing. Not even the vineyards directly below.

                                  We decide to head for Cheraso and pronzo at La Torre. As we drive the fog begins to lift and we see blue sky and clouds. We arrive in Cheraso just in time for the end of the market. An hour long walk along the quite streets - the shops have closed for mid day break.

                                  At 1:30 La Torre is everything we expected. Nice rooms about half filled. Service both warm and professional. The young lady who served us was quite good with English and the gentleman who handled the wine spoke good French.

                                  We shared an antipasti misto and Liz had cheese raviolini with brown butter sauce and a nice shaving tartufi bianco. Finanzeria was on the spoken menu and having never had it; I had to give it a try. Very rich and tasty and just the right size portion. While I have nothing to compare it to I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and would rate it excellent.

                                  We still had a bit over half a bottle of 2004 Santo Stefano Barbarberesco Riserva (50e) selected from an excellent list with very reasonable prices. The wine is excellent, especially after a chance to open up. I asked for a selection of fromaggio to accompany the remainder. Six perfect cheeses surrounded a pool of extraordinarily good honey.

                                  Nothing left except an inch or so of Barbaresco which I suspect did not go to waste. The cheese plate did not appear on the tab. The total for everything - 93e. We depart completely happy.

                                  On the way back we go again the overlook in La Morra a get sensations photos of countryside and the vineyards below.

                                  Since we are staying in La Morra rather than Alba we decide to try More e Macine for something light. The place is busy, the wine list extensive and the food decidedly not light. Perhaps due to the time of year. Good but foodwise not much better than Vincafe (wine list much better than Vincafe). We may look around and take our chances at finding something lighter. Perhaps something put together from a market and a couple shops.

                                  Bardon tomorrow.

                                  1. Friday. Off to Bardon. Leave about 10:30 planning to stop along the way to see Santo Stefano and San Marzano di Oliveto before lunch. We drive up, down and around the spectacular countryside and finally arrive at Bardon with no stops a few minutes before our 1:30 reservation. Note to self: DO NOT TRUST GOOGLE MAPS!

                                    We are greeted warmly and seated by the window. Water and the wine list arrive quickly. List is all that Allende says it is in terms of both price and quality.

                                    I select three possible wines, all 100 - 110e and ask the waiter which he thinks will be showing best. All three 1996 - Giacosa, Barbaresco, Santo Stefano; Bricco Rocche, Barolo, Bricco Roche Brunate and Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Bric del Fiasc. (Want to get a read on how my 96s are doing and all were priced below current release wholesale in AZ.)

                                    He is most enthusiastic about the Bricco Rocche Brunate so we agree and off he goes. He returns a few minutes later and unwraps the bottle. On presentation I do not see "Brunate" anywhere, only Bricco Rocche. I tell him that I think it is the wrong bottle but he insists it is Brunate and off he goes. I think for perhaps 30 seconds and decide I am certain the bottle is the Bricco Rocche (280e) itself and get up to tell him before he opens the bottle. He still insists it is Brunate and proceeds to open the bottle while we are still talking. I decide to drop it at that point.

                                    I have the crudo and it is excellent - true veal and knife cut. Perhaps cut finer than I prefer but I cannot fault it because that is how they do it and that is what I came for. Liz has Polenta with chicken, also very tasty. We both have the Plin and it is to die for. If not my all time best pasta dish certainly in the top five. Liz has a wonderful salad (not on the menu but easily accommodated) and I choose the Boar ribs braised in Barbera. It was described as "ribs from a pig" but I am quite certain it was boar. Very rich and tasty and the vegetables used in the braise; carrot, onion and ?? were equally delicious. Also on the plate were tender tender carrots not cooked in wine and what I would call sauerkraut since I do not know what it is called in this area. The sauerkraut i did not like because it tasted fishy. I now know that anchovy is used extensively in this area since we noticed it to a lesser extent at both La Torre and Vincafe. Henceforth, I will be sure to tell our servers that I do not want anything with anchovy unless it is something I actually like with anchovy.

                                    The food is excellent but we are too full to have either cheese or dessert.

                                    Back to the wine. It was good but not great. It was disjointed and out of balance and in my experience it will not ever come into balance. A shame because 1996 is a great vintage and Bricco Rocche is usually among the best of the vintage. I was, however, certain that it was the more expensive bottle and not the Brunate. Liz and I had discussed how to handle it if it showed up on the bill as the more expensive bottle that it was, rather than the less expensive bottle that I had ordered. I had decided that if the the bill was for the more expensive bottle I would mention it but not make a big deal about it. The bill arrived with the wine at priced at 280e but it had been overwritten to 100e; the price of the wine I had ordered. Truly a class operation. We would return in a heartbeat. Tab with wine 160e.

                                    Today we did the market in Alba. With Bardon yesterday and Il Centro tomorrow we decided to go easy today and just have some pasta for lunch. Since we knew Vincafe has good inexpensive wine by the glass we went back. I had the Plin. Had I not had it at Bardon the day before I might have thought it pretty good. But after Bardon there is absolutely no comparison.

                                    Picnic in our room tonight thanks to some nice produce, cheese and salumi at the market in Alba.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: jock

                                      Class operation at Bardon is correct. Always. Glad you had a good time. Yes, as I mentioned before, those plin are for us the best that we've ever had... and we've had hundreds. They just get it right.

                                      We've given up on Giacosa's 96 barolos. Something has happened to the wines in the past three years. Before that, let's say from 2005-2010, we couldn't get enough of them. Then, the wines were good, but not great and they should be great. Not so with other 96s from other producers we like.

                                      At Il Centro, after lunch (and Sunday lunch is earlier than 1:30 and it is a long meal), ask Enrico to see the cellar.

                                      1. re: allende

                                        We reserved Il Centro for dinner at 8. Should we try to change for lunch at 12:30?

                                        1. re: jock

                                          Either one is fine (really), but Sunday lunch is always more fun.

                                        2. re: allende

                                          Giacosa's from the 80s and 90s were among the best wines I have ever had. I think Dante Scaglione left after the 2004 vintage because of differences with Bruna who was taking over from Bruno. IMO they have gone way downhill since. If I recall correctly Bruno even refused to release some wines in one recent vintage because Bruna's changes made them unacceptable to him.

                                          My experience with 1996 Giacosas has always been excellent

                                          1. re: jock

                                            Meant to say that I enjoyed your Bardon description and got our (third) vicarious lunch there this week.

                                        3. re: jock


                                          Thanks for this detailed report of the first half of your Piemonte stay, which puts many things in perspective and provides some new angles.

                                          Despite the detail you provided about the wine mix-up at Bardon, I am still puzzled as to what happened. Who overwrote the 280e charge for the wine, reducing it to 100e? It appears from your telling that your server was absolutely convinced he was bringing you the 100e wine you ordered, even though you tried to point out the error twice.

                                          I am sorry you didn't like the wine you got, and I am surprised you and your wife would have been willing to pay an extra 180e for a wine you never wanted if mentioning it didn't get it instantly whisked off the tab. I also imagine some people traveling a great distance to Piemonte precisely for its wines would have been more disappointed to have their wine order go so wrong for one of the few meals they would have there.

                                          I haven't a doubt in the world it was an honest mistake on the part of Bardon -- although I do wonder if another restaurant had made a similar honest mistake they would be viewed so charitably, even if they had behaved the same way and righted their error at their own expense. People tend to be very suspicious when a more expensive wine than what was ordered ends up on the table.

                                          Just curious if you came up with a theory about how it was known you drank a 280e wine (even you seem to be certain you were given the wrong wine) if the server didn't know it. He sounds like he was familiar with the wines in house, and I wonder why he misread the label.

                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                            Your questions are difficult to answer because they all interrelate together.

                                            First I want to make it very clear that I have ABSOLUTELY no doubt it was an honest mistake. If I had had even the slightest inkling they were trying to "pull a fast one" on me I would have walked out and you would have read a dramatically different report.

                                            Now some background on the wine which it appears from some of your questions that you may not know. Ceretto is one of the larger, most well-known, producers in Piemonte. They produce many high quality wines under the Cerretto name. Their very best Baroli are made and sold under the name Bricco Rocche. There are three or four single vineyard designates including Brunate and Prapo. The very top wine and the most expensive is simply labeled Bricco Rocche - "Bricco Rocche". The wine I ordered was the Bricco Rocche - "Bricco Rocche Brunate". But for one word the labels are identical. I also believe but am not completely certain that both wines come from the Brunate Vineyard - the more expensive being made from vines in the best section of the vineyard.

                                            I suspect the waiter was not family and certainly not as familiar with the wine as I had at first thought. His enthusiasm for the wine likely was likely based more on the reputation of the wine and not any first hand knowledge of the specific wines and vintage.

                                            I believe one of two things transpired after I sat down. The waiter may have had second thoughts and gone to someone to ask how to handle it. More likely, one of the owners witnessed the interaction and followed up. The check had already been overwritten when it arrived and I think that was to make it very clear that they realized the error and were doing the right thing. The only way they could have handled it better would have been to let me know right away so that we would not have to have spent part of our meal wondering how it would play out and what we might to do in various scenarios.

                                            Why might I have considered paying the price? One reason; I felt at least partially responsible for not being more insistent in the very beginning.

                                            Another reason. My first significant venture into wines outside of California, France and Germany was with some 1982 Barolo. I purchased cases of the 1982 Giacosa Collina Rionda Riserva and the 1982 Bricco Rocche - Bricco Rocche along with a couple of others. Both of the 82s were extraordinary wine and the Giacosa is one of the top ten wines of my life.
                                            even though I love all wines those two wines and many to follow have made Barolo and Barbaresco my very favorite wines in all the world. (Over the past 50 years I have probably tasted over 150,000 different wines/vintages and I actually have the opportunity to drink a glass or more of at least 500 different wines each year - and no, I never consume more than a bottle a day and usually less than half,) It started out hard but I, at first, thought it might open up. Instead it fell apart and became more and more disjointed. Had the bottle been as sublime as it should have been it would have been worth it to me to drink it.

                                        4. Sunday:

                                          Allende, on seeing your suggestion I immediately emailed Il Centro to see if it would be possible to change the reservation to lunch. It was. I am glad we made the change for any number of reasons.

                                          Il Centro is the highlight of our trip. Service was the equal of the finest restaurants anywhere in the world. The setting elegant and classic. The scent of truffles filled the room.

                                          The wine list IMO is the equal of Bardon. Almost as extensive and even a bit more reasonably priced based on the half dozen or so wines I remembered From Bardon. After a glass of very nice Prosecco a I chose a 1997 Azelia Barolo Normale (70e). Perhaps a year or two past its prime but still very very good.

                                          Our antipasti were Crudo with truffles for Liz and Parmesian fondue for me. The Crudo was perfection. "Beaten with a knife;" the texture being just right. My Parmesian fondue disappeared so quickly that Liz only got one spoonful.

                                          Pasta was Plin for Liz and Tajarin with truffles for me. The Plin was not even close to Bardon but way way better than Vincafe. My Tajarin with butter and truffles was excellent.

                                          Lastly, we both had "fried" eggs with truffles. Not really fried but cooked in the oven. The yolks were a deep reddish orange color never seen the the US and seldom even in France any more. The perfect eggs were the perfect way to get full enjoyment of the truffles.

                                          A glass of Moscato followed by cafe and four excellent gourmandises. The tab 91e for wine and 171e for food including about 100e in truffle supplements. A genuine bargain. A tour of the wine cellar - a perfect ending!

                                          Three wonderful restaurants. I want to thank everyone who posted in the several Piemonte threads. Special thanks to Allende for the wonderful, and accurate, descriptions and your patience in answering my questions.

                                          Tomorrow morning we are off for two nights in Torino. We will wander around the Centro Storico and just play it by ear.

                                          Lately we have been spending too much time in France, something that we fully intend to correct.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jock

                                            Jock, thanks so much for the writeup. Another vicarious meal. Glad you enjoyed Il Centro and that it was what I said it was. Enrico is a special person, as is the place.

                                          2. Allende et al: Thanks for sharing your tips!! I was planning to drive from Valence, France to Bergamot without any thoughts of stopping over in Piedmont. Now, after reading your post I am thinking that I should change our plans for France and instead spend a day or two around Alba to try Barton and il centro. I also just learned that it is white truffle season there now...Are you going to be back there next week?

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: allende


                                                look at my post of August 18th., third paragraph. It is San Marco in Canelli (not Canale as I incorrectly wrote).

                                                It's a delightful place, but on a short trip, there are too many other places to go first. Here are our favorites. Before anyone gets upset, these are our favorites. They are not "the best" because there is no "the best." Da Bardon, Il Centro in Priocca, Da Renzo, Il Veglio, La Torre.

                                                1. re: allende

                                                  Ah yes, I see it now. Thanks for the great recommendations.