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Oct 3, 2013 06:21 PM

Piemonte trip notes

This was our second time in this region, and after a wonderful meal at La Piola during our previous trip, we decided that Piazza Duomo was first on our list for this trip. It turns out that was an excellent decision.

After other high-end meals in Italy had fallen flat, I was getting the impression that trattoria-style meals was the best way to eat in Italy. Then, the 11 course tasting menu at Piazza Duomo blew me away. I'll remember many of the dishes for years to come, but my favorite was "Eggs and eggs salad". Coming in at 60 euros on the ala carte menu, I deduced this was going to involve some really expensive eggs. Indeed. The plate had several dollops of caviar and was covered with shaved bottarga. The salad tasted like the essence of the sea, accentuated with a few pieces of toasted nori to put it over the top. Some of our other favorite dishes were the deconstructed cannelloni and the strawberries with rhubarb. Each dish had a clear focus, and each element was there for a reason. In a lot of high end dining, there are more ingredients, more technique, yet the end result is muddled. This was not the case with our meal at Piazza Duomo.

We also enjoyed dinner at Belbo Da Bardon based on recommendations on this board. The meal was excellent, starting with carne crudo, moving on to raviolini del plin and tagliolini with mushrooms, and then the meats. The roasts are presented spectacularly - huge pieces on a cart, sliced in front of you. The most impressive cart, however, was the cheese cart. The selection was huge and very high quality - my favorite was an aged robiola, and it was unlike any robiola I had ever eaten. The table next to us tried more than ten different cheeses, and the cheese master placed each cheese in a specific tasting order. If you go, save room for cheese!

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  1. Could you please remind us in which cities these dining places are located?

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Piazza Duomo is in Alba town center and Da Bardon is in San Marzano Oliveto, Asti.

    2. Did you drink wine at either place?

      6 Replies
      1. re: allende

        Yes, at Da Bardon we had a bottle of Scagliola Sansi, the only barbera I have ever liked.

        At Piazza Duomo we had a glass of sparkling wine and then a 3 glass "tour" of Piemonte - a white followed by as barbera and then a barolo. They weren't really paired with the courses. Wine pairing is one area where there could be some room for improvement.

        Both restaurants had lengthy wine lists and a large number of aged prestige wines.

          1. re: jock

            For two, roughly 100 at Da Bardon, and close to 500 at Piazza Duomo.

          2. re: felice

            My wife saw your comment on a "cheese master" at Bardon. She laughed.

            So as not to give the wrong impression for people planning to go, there is no "cheese master" at Bardon. Bardon is a SIMPLE country trattoria. Nothing more. As I've said many times, it has an incredible cheese trolley. Depending on the day, it is served by one of the two brothers who co-own the place. The other brother is the "wine master" i.e. serves the wine. Both are extremely knowledgeable about wine and cheese. They alternate with the wine and the cheese. They also carve the stinco and serve it too :) We are not talking about Picholine in New York where there are pretend "cheese masters", whatever that means.

            I know the wine list at Bardon very well. I know that the wine was bought when it came out. I've never been to Piazza Duomo, but was always curious how they got so many "aged presitge" wines, when the restaurant is not very old.

            Perhaps Vinoroma can give us some thoughts on this (in general) and while we're at it touch on something that she and I very much agree on. That is, how are wines stored in restaurants and why do people buy old barolos, for example, which have sat in the restaurant forever.

            1. re: allende

              It must have been your recommendations I read on this board. I didn't want to call him the cheese guy, so I made up a slightly elevated title to help describe his knowledge of cheese. Perhaps fromallier would be more accurate? It was fun discovering how everyone working in the restaurant were related.

              1. re: felice

                Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it is fun seeing how everyone is related and that they work so well together and that cheese trolley, as you said, unbelievable.

        1. Any tips on where to stay?