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Text Written by Gerald Weisl  with some photographical assistance 
from Kareasa Wilkins...updated June 2018...

 

 



Piemonte is a sort of "home" base for me.  I have many friends and adopted "family" there.  I became an honorary Piemontese back in the 1980s when I invited myself to stay at the home and winery of Alfredo & Luciana Currado at Cantina Vietti.  I spent several weeks of the 1984 harvest attempting to learn the Italian language as well as all the secrets of the winemaking and kitchen.

Since then I've visited many times.  I speak the language moderately well, though I don't wave my hands around nearly as stylishly as the Italians. 

The area has changed over the past few decades.  The winemaking and viticulture have improved tremendously.  The area has become more tourist-friendly, though it's not as over-run with Americans and British as Tuscany, for example.  (This may be good news.)

More outstanding restaurants are to be found in this area, so it's a shame that few Americans know the region as well as the Swiss and Germans who make trek to fill their cars with wine and foodstuffs of Piemonte. 

From Milano, you're about two hours' drive to Alba, the main city in the region where Barolo and Barbaresco wines are made.  There are now many places to stay in Alba, but you might also consider one of the smaller villages in the winemaking towns.  From the U.S., flying in to Torino is easy and usually not significantly more costly.  Renting a car is a snap and driving to Alba takes an hour, or so.

Though summer is "high season" in Tuscany, you may run into trouble finding a place to stay in September and October in this region known as the "Langhe."   That's because this marks the harvest season and there's also a major industry in white truffles. 

With the increase in the price of wine, there's come a major period of prosperity in the region.  Alba's main street, the Via Mestre, used to be filled with more utilitarian shops.  Today it's packed with fancy boutiques with all the famous brands of Italian and French clothing and shoes. Many winemakers, who were lucky to drive a small Fiat, now have a Mercedes parked in the garage.  That's what happens when Barolo goes from a $20 wine to a $50-$100 price level.  (Today many are even more than that!)

If you're interested to experience the "culture," come to Alba on a Saturday morning when the open air market fills the town.  Local farmers fill a covered area at one end of town.  Farm and gardening equipment fills another piazza.  Get there around 9 or 10am, as it starts closing around noon.  While the stores used to close on Saturday at lunch time, these days you can shop til you drop...they're open Saturdays until 7:30.
 






PIEMONTE SLIDE PRESENTATION



GREAT PLACES TO STAY/PLACES TO DINE

 

LA LIBERA
Via Pertinace 24/a
Alba
Tel: (0173) 293155

closed February
Closed:  8 to 18 July
Closed:  Sundays and Monday at Lunch
CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEBSITE

Many people will tell you this is "the" place for a great lunch in Alba.  We've dined here numerous times now and it's been excellent each time, though it's certainly "slow food."  Don't dine here if you're rushed, because trying to get in and out is challenging.

The wine list is quite good and there's a big cooler filled with bottles, so the wines, even on warm days, arrives in delightfully drinkable condition.

They usually have several Freisa wines, too...these are not often sold in export markets and are nice, fresh, fizzy red wines...perfect with starters!

Marco was in the kitchen and Flavia still runs the dining rooms and takes care of the wine list.  

The menu features traditional Piemontese dishes.  And you can find great, well-cellared vintages from famous Piemontese estates as well as reasonably-priced, less-famed producers.

Since the couple split up, we've dined there and it hasn't missed a beat!  

 

 

 


They offer a wonderful "tasting" plate of traditional Piemontese antipasti...
A stuffed pepper, carne cruda, Vitello Tonnato and Insalata Russa.


"Plin," or local Agnolotti, are delicious and simply sauced with butter and sage.
I'd say La Libera's version of Plin are just about as good as they get!




A main plate of roasted pork and fried asparagus...

The wine list is extensive....they have numerous vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco wines from famous estates to some less well-known properties.

LUNCH IN THE SPRING OF 2009:



 

We ordered an older bottle of Barolo and Chef Marco decanted and served it...





Donna in Piemonte.


More Plin.

They often have Sea Scallops on the menu.


Carne Cruda in Spring of 2010.


We're fans of Crissante's Barolo, always reasonably-priced and well-aged at La Libera.


Tajarin and some freshly grated cheese.


Quail or Piccione?



One of our group ordered an assortment of cheeses...

In 2011:

A salad of smoked chicken, foie gras (thinly shaved) and some tempura asparagus...


Orecchiette pasta with octopus, broccoli and some red pepper flakes.

The restaurant is popular with many of the local winemakers, as they not only eat well, but they can drink well, too, without breaking the bank.

 

 

 

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RISTORANTE LE TORRI

Piazza Vittorio Veneto,10 in Castiglione Falletto
Tel.(0173) 62930; fax (0173) 462000

Closed Wednesday and at the end of January, as well as August.
Click here for their web site...

This is a fairly new place, located in Castiglione Falletto.  There are some apartments for rent upstairs, so if you're staying at least a week, this is a nice location (aside from the church-bell which rings every hour!).

They recently renovated the hotel rooms and apartments....

And on a Sunday night in 2011, the place was packed.  It's become well known and highly regarded.  The quality of the food is good and they have a good wine list.

The atmosphere is somewhat elegant, but comfortable."

Here are a few photos from dinner in the Spring of 2011...

A glass of white wine as an aperitivo out on the deck watching the sunset...

An Amuse Bouche of Fried Zucchini Flowers to start.

We ordered Tajarin (Piemontese for tagliatelle) to start and this was classic.

Our main plate was roasted goat (capretto) with potatoes and a beautiful little artichoke...

The 1998 Vietti Barolo from the Rocche vineyard was showing magnificently, too.
At 12+ years of age, the wine is hitting its stride.

Nice sorbetti for dessert, too:

In May of 2007 I dined here one night with some locals.  
I noticed many more cars parked in the little piazza and the place is, today, more of a destination than it had been.
If the weather is nice, there are some tables outside in the courtyard where you might have an aperitivo before heading inside for your meal.
We had a small Sunday night dinner there...a little pt with a dynamite bottle of Coppo bubbly.  A plate of prosciutto and Parmigiano was terrific...lamb or rabbit for the main plate...take your pick, they were both excellent!

    




The place has changed hands again (I think in 2014), but a customer told me they had a good meal there under the new ownership.

We dined there with some friends in April of 2018...Here are some photos...the food was terrific and the wine cellar is impressive.

 


You'll find many remarkable bottles in their cellar and the staff is delighted to show guests around.



We sat down at the dinner table as part of a group of perhaps 10 people.  The restaurant took everyone's order individually, so we saw some remarkable dishes on the table.

To begin, there was a little Amuse Bouche.

The Piemontese are famous for Insalata Russa and it's viewed as a typical Piemontese antipasto.

Two other classic Piemontese starters are Carne Cruda and Vitello Tonnato.



The Agnolotti del Plin were outstanding.

We enjoyed a few vintages from the nearby Vietti winery.


This lamb dish was stellar.  It's called Costolette d'Agnello in Crosta di Grissini.I
So the lamb is dredged in "breadcrumbs" made of grissini.


A 1983 Vietti Barolo Rocche...showing its age.
Wine of the night was Vietti 1989 Barolo Brunate...it was as perfect a bottle of Barolo as one could wish for.
The 1996 Vietti Barolo Brunate was still a baby and quite tannic and a bit backwards.  Imagine that!

 


Dessert?

Also impressive.  "Tris di Nocciola Piemonte."
Hazelnuts everywhere.

And then they bring out a few more sweets after dessert...


A Vietti Chinato that Luca Currado guesstimated was from the late 1940s to early 1950s...
Still quite good, too.

 

 

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OSTERIA DA GEMMA

Via Marconi 6
Roddino 
Reservations are a good idea:  0173/794252
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Click here for a link to a web page

Gemma herself will tell you she's not a professional "chef."  Instead, the says, she's a "home cook."  And if you want to experience Piemontese "home cooking," this is a wonderful experience.

Roddino is a small town in the hills, just south of Serralunga and not far from Monforte.  There are no major wineries within spitting distance and you're in an off-the-beaten path town away from "central" Barolo.  And yet the place was packed on a Thursday night in Spring.  Clearly these people dining there are not locals, but I can't say the crowd was full of tourists of foreigners, either...aside from us.

 

There's no menu as Gemma's place.  You're escorted to a table and there's a small cutting board with salame and a knife.  Help yourself.  Some grissini are mounded up on the table and a few pieces of bread, perhaps the best we'd had during our trip this time.  "I baked it myself." Gemma explained.



The fellow who'd shown us to the table asked about wine.  They had their own little white wine (Arneis, perhaps?) or we could order something from the 'cellar'.  No wine list and the stemware is such that next time, I need to remember to bring my own!  We are big spenders and for 12 Euros we took an Arneis bottled by some young vintner nobody has ever heard of.  We'd been told we could have a taste of the house white and if we didn't like it, go for the upgrade.  We threw caution to the wind.

On a visit to Gemma in April of 2017 we were pleasantly surprised that they presented a wine list!
And they have some nice wines at very reasonable prices.  It's not a big list, though.
They have upgraded their stemware, too.  Apparently local winemakers insisted.
We enjoyed a white wine made by some tiny vintner who's a neighbor of the restaurant...not a great wine as a Chardonnay, but it was a very pleasant dry vino bianco and it didn't cost much.

A few moments later, someone dropped off a serving dish of Carne Cruda.

A few minutes later...another typical Piemontese platter arrived.

Insalata Russa.

And then...

Vitello Tonnato.

The wine was alright, but not stellar.  The fellow asked if we'd like the house red, a home-made Dolcetto.
"Try it," he urged us.  "If you don't like it, we can get you something else."

Fine...and the wine was perfectly nice.  Ordering a more special bottle (we'd seen bottles of some Barolo and Barbaresco wines displayed on a shelf along one wall) was an option, but having to drink it from these jelly-jars-with-a-stem would not have allowed the wine to shine.

The room was warm and it would have been ideal had the wine been at cellar temperature or a bit cooler.

And then the pasta arrived.

Sensational "Plin," the Piemontese version of Agnolotti.
Wonderfully toothsome pillows with a delicious sauce.

As we were "oohing" and "aahing," another plate arrived.


Gemma's Tajarin.

Now, the evening before this meal, we had enjoyed the "Rolls Royce of Tajarin," those made by Maurizio at Barbaresco's Antica Torre restaurant.

Here the tajarin are stellar.  I don't know what she does, but they are fantastic and somehow different from any other version we'd tasted.  There was something special and unique in Gemma's Tajarin.  I don't know what it is, but when you taste them, perhaps you'll know.

We were nearly stuffed at this stage.

As they say on those TV info-mercials:  "But Wait!  There's More!!"


Not one main course (or 'secondo' as they call it)...but two.
Wild boar stew or braised in the background and rabbit up close...


Potatoes...simple and soulful.

Could we possibly eat anything more?

Well, we were in for a bunch of desserts...

Meringata.  Sort of a cold, creamy meringue...


Dolce all'ananas.  Some sort of cream with pineapple.

But Wait!   There's More!


Bunet...some sort of Piemontese Chocolate "pudding" or Panna Cotta...

We were stuffed.

Now we'd not had a clue as to the cost of this feast.

A nearby table had just cleared out and people lined up at the bar and cash register to pay...a little group of 17 diners.

We waited and wondered how much this would be.

Well, we splurged, remember, on that 12 Euro bottle of vino bianco.
Our tab came to 62 Euros for two people.
Had we stuck with the house white, it would have cost each of us 25 Euros.

Now you know why the place is packed and you should, please, make a reservation.


The great Gemma.

On the wall there's this little warning sign:

No dieting in this restaurant.

**************************************************************************************************

OSTERIA DELL'ARCO
Piazza Savona 5 (but in an alcove)
Alba
Tel: 0173  363-974
Closed Sundays
Click Here for their website.


We called ahead to reserve a table at lunch during the week...good thing, too, because the place filled up once the doors opened at 12:30.

We began with a nice starter of Carne Cruda.

And we ordered a bottle of Ugo Lequio's 2001 Barbaresco for around 38 Euros...
This wine was nicely mature and perfect at nearly ten years of age.


Plin were very good...



And you never know who you might run into...on this occasion we saw a number of notable wine celebrities, including Angelo Rocca and Maria Teresa Mascarello.

Roasted Rabbit for the main plate.

My dining companion ordered Cinghiale...


Sorry...missed the prices on this shot, but they're reasonable.

 

 

****************************************************************************************************

 



Giardino da Felicin
Via Vallada, 18 - 12065 Monforte d'Alba
Tel. (0173) 78225; fax (0173) 787377

http://www.felicin.it
Hotel is closed from the first of January to mid-February.  The restaurant is closed Sunday nights and Monday.

Monforte d'Alba is located at the southern end of the Barolo zone.   There are many notable producers in this area, so staying here at this small hotel can be a good idea.  It is about a 20-30 minute ride to Alba and about a 15 minute ride to the towns of Barolo and La Morra. 
Run by the Rocca family, Nino is the son of founders Rosina and the late Giorgio.  (He passed away suddenly in 2014...) 
They have periodically had a star in the Michelin Guide and for good reason!  The food is stellar.  The wine cellar here is exceptional.  They even have a cheese cart, much as is common in France (it's not common in Italy). 
The restaurant is of modest size, seating about 60 guests.  There are but 10 hotel rooms, so advance booking is a good idea.

 

Friends who've dined there not long ago reported it was so stellar, they went back for an encore performance.

I had not been there in years and with an opportunity to have lunch, I drove to Felicin and asked for a table on a slow, quiet afternoon in March of 2015.

The menu features a number of "price fixed" opportunities.  You can have a 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 or a 65 Euro menu...take your pick.  How hungry are you?

I began my splurge-of-a-lunch with their Trancio di Merluzzo (Steamed cod with potatoes, pistachios and a jam of red onions).  Before this arrived, they came by the table to offer a glass of white wine as an aperitivo.

The restaurant is quiet, though I could easily hear the conversations at the two occupied tables.  

Shortly after, a small "amuse bouche" arrived...they call it a "Stuzzichino."


It was a remarkable frittata of vegetables...

The wine list is impressive.  You can get lost in the list and they have it easily categorized.  There's a listing of Dolcetto offerings and one of Barbera...Being a restaurant in Barolo, you'll find but a small offering under the heading of Barbaresco.
They have good Champagnes and fine Italian sparklers, of course.

Then the bulk of the list features listings by winery...so you can scope out wines according to the producer.  And being that the restaurant has been around for a few decades, they have a good cellar with many well-aged bottles (of course, priced accordingly).

Still, though you are dining in a top, top restaurant, there are wines which are attractively priced.  Bottles of Dolcetto ranged from 14 to 19 Euros!   There are perhaps two dozen Barbera offerings, ranging from 13 Euros to maybe 40 Euros.
Being an enlightened restaurant, there are numerous Rieslings on the list, as well...not just from local, Piemontese winemakers but from Slovenia and Alsace, too.

The list has many gems.  You can order a bottle of Vietti 1979 Rocche for 380 or an '82 Villero Riserva for 590.  Sandrone's 1996 Cannubi is 290, while Mauro Veglio's various 1996 cru bottlings are 120 each.

The Merluzzo arrived...a work of art!

It was every bit as delicious as it was beautiful to look at.


Their version of "Plin" was exceptional!
I ordered a bottle of Massolino's 2013 Barbera d'Alba, a wine which does not see oak and it's typically bottled in its youth.
The wine was offered for 16 Euros on the Felicin wine list.


A simple 'sauce' of butter and sage.

There were four main plates on the day I dined there.  One was a Roasted Veal Shank.  Another was a Guinea Hen with Black truffles...or a Steak for 2.  I opted for their Capretto al Forno, roasted kid goat with potatoes, myrtle berries and white Port.



They do offer a few vegetarian options, by the way.  And there's a nice selection of cheeses.

And they have a remarkable array of desserts.

At one point, the regal-looking older lady who'd been seated near the desk, passed by.
I asked "Are you Rosina?"
She said yes...and then I introduced myself.
"Oh my god!  Gerald!!"
I stood up and we hugged each other.  I had not seen her in maybe 25 years.
She and her husband, the late Giorgio Rocca, had visited California ages ago and we'd spent some memorable days touring the Bay Area with our dear friend Alfredo Currado (of the Vietti winery).
Our late colleague Bob Gorman took special pride in telling people of one of his culinary triumphs in preparing a great Crab Cioppino for Giorgio and Rosina.
At one point Giorgio, hovering over Bob's shoulder, cautioned Bob about his burning the Marjoram.
Bob barked at Giorgio to get the hell out of my kitchen..."I'm purposely scorching the Marjoram...it's a secret of the chef in making this dish."
And, in fact, it was a grand evening, filled with many bottles of wine!



I had a little "sampler" of desserts...



This is truly a special place...

 

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Albergo Ristorante "La Contea"
Piazza Cocito 8 in Neive
Tel. (0173) 67126 677558; fax (0173) 67367
They now have a web site: 
http://www.la-contea.it
Closed around the Christmas holidays and from January until March 1st. 
We have known this place for many years.  It's run by Claudia and Tonino Verro and their staff.  The place has been spruced up over the years and today it's quite an enterprise, with modest hotel facilities above the restaurant and bar.   A small enoteca is located across the street.
The kitchen has always featured very traditional cooking.  Claudia did extensive research to collect recipes of old and very traditional Langhe cooking. 
At one time they had been awarded a star in the Michelin Guide.  This was certainly deserved.  However, service and kitchen work can be a bit uneven.  The wine list is impressive and you'll find the best of Piemonte here. 
They now have their own little winery and make their own Barbaresco.  I've tasted a few of their wines of this recently and they are quite good.  The kitchen, when it's on top of its game, is amongst the best.  


Home-made farfalle pasta.



They also run cooking classes, including hands-on experience.  Eight people maximum, so you can get some friends together and book a course.  They will hire an interpreter.

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Ristorante Cacciatori-da Cesare

via Umberto I, 12 in Albaretto delle Torre
Tel. 0173/52 01 41   Fax:  0173/52 01 47
Click here for their Web site.
I believe Cesare is not currently operating his restaurant.  
Her had been enticed to cook or run a cooking school for the Fontanafredda winery...that contract has expired and we understand Cesare now is teaching cooking to private individuals or groups...


A number of years ago we were tipped off to the dining establishment of Chef Cesare Giaccone.  We were told his was the most inventive interpretation of traditional Piemontese cooking.    We called and booked at table.  "Cesare is cooking fish." we were told.  And he did.  And did he!  But he also had "capretto" (baby goat) roasting in the fireplace and we dined supremely well that night.  
I recall the wines were very inexpensive and the menu was more costly.  It was worth whatever it costs, for this fellow's cuisine (or 'cucina') is so wonderful, it's worth the detour to get here.
And if you're in Piemonte visiting wineries and you have a few bucks in the bank, missing this place is a pity.

The restaurant used to be larger and in a building which had the appearance of dining establishment.  It's downsized and much smaller and you'll think you're coming to someone's home.  There's a tiny sign on the wall facing the street.

Park on the main drag in a parking lot (there was a small fleet of ambulances there on our Sunday afternoon in the Spring of 2008).  We were fortunate to be there on a gorgeous, warm, sunny day and were able to dine outside under a covered area in the "cortile" or courtyard.

A few things to note:  There is no "menu."  You are having whatever Cesare prepares.  And you know those ads on TV urging you to bring your Visa card because "they don't take American Express"?  Well, Cesare doesn't take any credit card, so have a pile of cash in your wallet.  I didn't see the bill, but I understand you're going to drop 75 to 100 Euros per person before the wine.  

I understand the place was, at one point, cited by the Guide Michelin.  But Cesare asked them to NOT include him in their book.  








We had an absolutely brilliant lunch.

While we waited for our group to congregate, we sat outside, had a sip of chilled Arneis and were offered a little 'nibble.'

Cesare is famous for his vinegar production and we began with this little 'salad' of pickled vegetables and chicken.


A plate of warm seafood with, I believe, eggplant...Fantastic!

I had seen Cesare working on some asparagus when we arrived...here's what we had:

Asparagus in a "parmigiano cream."

Fritto Misto is quite popular and Cesare's rendition was sensational!

It's served in a nest with, as you can see, fresh flowers, etc.

Mine was not the only camera recording this meal!

Cesare came out to ask if we were enjoying the food and if we'd like to try some risotto...



"Not too much...solo un cucchiaio." (a spoon-full)

The Barolo (from magnum!) was flowing...we were dining with Pietro Ratti of the famous La Morra cellar, Renato Ratti.

One of Cesare's signature offerings is oven-roasted goat.  When we arrived, I had a sneak-peek in the fireplace:

It was accompanied by a plate of fantastically good, simply-prepared artichokes.


It isn't "fancy," but it sure was delicious!

Since, perhaps, everyone isn't a fan of goat, Cesare hedges his bets by sending out a pot of duck stew...

What about dessert?
There we had a couple of choices...many opted for Cesare's Zabaglione.

But it being a rather warm day, I opted for the fresh strawberries with amazingly fine sorbetti...



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FALSTAFF
via Commendator Schiavino, 1
Verduno
Tel: 0172.47.02.44
Closed Mondays
Reservations are required...you can't just go knock on the door. They ask that you contact them at least a day in advance.
CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE

This is a lovely little place which has a air of formality to it, but in fact, it's quite comfortable.  You'll find the food to be refined and elegant, but beautifully presented and tastefully prepared.

We began our lunch with a "foreign" bottle of bubbly, a Spumante from Trentino's Pojer e Sandri...

 

 

They had a plate of truffles ready to shave onto the pasta...

The Kitchen Magician:

Franco Giolitto



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LOCANDA DEL CENTRO
Piazza del Centro in Castiglione Falletto
Tel: (0173) 462 502
They have several rooms, so if you're looking for a modestly-priced "hotel" and want a simple, comfortable room and bath facilities, this is a good option for you.

Their web site has photos of the rooms and contact info:
CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE


Closed Wednesday night and all day Thursday.
Otherwise:  Lunch 12:30-2:30  and dinners 7:30 until 10pm.

This is not a fancy place, but it is a delightful place to have good, "home-cooking" at a very reasonable price.  It was recommended by some locals who cautioned "It's not got a huge menu, but they offer good eats for an exceptional price."

It's changed hands a few times.  The couple who purchased it in 2010 and who are shown here sold it and opened a new place down the street.  I have not dined there and I missed trying the new Locanda on my most recent trip.

Here's the menu we were presented at lunch one weekday afternoon in May of 2010.  They have a few tables outside in front of the place...very comfortable for a casual lunch or dinner.  If the weather is good, there might be a few tables outside in front of the restaurant...

 


We ordered a bottle of La Ferghettina Brut from Franciacorta...it was 18 Euros on the wine list and delicious with these simply fried Zucchini flowers (6 Euros).

One of our group ordered Vitello Tonnato.  (6 Euros)

I think the Dolcetto from Elio Grasso was about 13 Euros and the Pork Shank was 9 Euros...a nice lunch!

They have a nice wine list...It's much-improved over the past year, or so, featuring many top producers and the prices are exceptional!
I noticed a beautiful selection--a few older vintages from nearby Cavallotto, but also good bottlings from Vietti, Clerico, Gaja, Bartolo Mascarello, Massolino and others.


The new owners...she waits tables and he's the chef.


The Menu in 2012.


Faraona or Guinea Hen


A mixed plate of Antipasti...2015.

Ravioli.


Panna Cotta.

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HOTEL CALISSANO in ALBA

I didn't stay here, but a bunch of friends have sacked out at this fairly fancy new high-rise just a couple of minutes' stroll from the center of Alba.  

It's a modern building and they have more than 80 rooms, a restaurant and conference facility.  

If you're dining in Alba, this would be a good place to stay so you don't have to run the gauntlet through the police sobriety check-points on a weekend evening.  You can leave the car parked at the hotel and stroll to nearby dining establishments, crawling back afterwards without having to get behind the wheel.

Via Pola 8
Alba (CN)

Tel. +39 0173 364855
Fax +39 0173 442701

CLICK HERE FOR THE HOTEL'S WEB SITE

 


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ALBERGO CASTIGLIONE LANGHE

Via Cavour 5
Castiglione Tinella

Tel: +39  0141 855 087
Fax: +39 

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE

 


We are friends of the people who currently own and run this place.

We stayed here in April of 2018 and the place was quiet and comfortable.

The front desk, as it were, is not staffed around the clock as this is more of a "bed & breakfast" type place than a "hotel."
The town is off the beaten path and it's quiet.

You're about a half hour drive from Barbaresco and maybe 35- to 40 minutes from Alba.  If you're in Barolo you'll need 45-50 minutes to get there.
It's about a half hour south of Asti...

 

There are a number of rooms to relax and maybe have a glass of wine...

Take a stairway to the underground cellar...


The breakfast room can be set up, apparently, other sorts of gatherings.  There's a piano in the back and I understand they can help book professional musicians for weddings and other gatherings.

They gave me a little tour of the place and each room is furnished uniquely...

Here's a screenshot of the prices as of the Summer of 2018.

 

 

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VINCAFE

Via Vittorio Emanuele, 12
Alba
Tel: 0173 / 364603
This is owned by some friends of ours and it's a dynamite little wine bar along the main shopping area of Alba.
I've not "dined" here, but have had a great coffee and croissant.  

 



The place is always jumping and, in good weather, a few tables are outside in front.
They have quite a few wines open for "by the glass" service and an array of "tapas" out on the bar.

You can also get a granita or an ice cream, a fresh squeezed orange juice and more!  

 

They now have a restaurant menu featuring typical Piemontese plates at reasonable prices.

Connie and Mark took these three photos:

 

I dined there in April of 2017 and had a lovely meal with some friends.


Nice beef and good potatoes...



And they renovated the rooms upstairs and have a handful of hotel-type rooms for rent.

Here's a link to VINCAFE'S WEB SITE.

 

 

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RISTORANTE CONTI ROERO
Piazza San Ponzio, 3
Monticello d'Alba  
Tel: (+39) 0173 64115  

Apparently this placed had closed down, but in checking on the internet, it's re-opened and up & running.
Reviews I read, posted in 2013 on an Italian web site were quite favorable.


CONTI ROERO'S WEB SITE

The Michelin Guide has this place closed for half of January and half of August, though their web site indicated they were closed for most of the month of March...best to double-check!
They're closed Sunday nights and Monday all day.

We dined at this Michelin-starred place in the Spring of 2008...it was a 'small' group of 30, or so, wine folks.
The service was superb and the food was exceptional.  I was even more amazed to think they had their downstairs dining room open for regular service, along with preparing a meal for our crowd.


An 'amuse bouche.'


Vitello Tonnato.


Asparagus with a creamy morel sauce...

 


Gnocchi


Seafood pasta...simple but stellar!


Braised pork "cheeks."


Berries and a cup of fruit juice...

I can't tell you much about their wine list, but I suspect they have all the famous wines of the area.

Menu prices were about 10-14 Euros for starters...pastas ranged from 12 to 14 Euros.
Main plates are 20 to 26.  Desserts are 10-12.
A couple of tasting menus are offered, costing 45 or 55.

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ANTINE
Via Torino 16
Barbaresco
Tel: (0173) 635 294
Closed Wednesdays and shortly after Christmas until the end of January.
They also close for a few weeks in August...
CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE  



Antine is a smallish restaurant right in beautiful "downtown" Barbaresco...as you enter the town, there's one little road which dead ends at Antica Torre and the Minuto winery.  
Just before this is a small parking area along a rock wall and Antine is across from this.

The night we dined here, guests of some Piemontese pals, the front door was locked.  We rang the bell and our hostess/server answered the call, welcoming us to Antine.

The dining area is upstairs and we made our way to a nice table and were served a wonderful meal.

 


We began with a little 'taste' of a local specialty...an interpretation of Vitello Tonnato.


Antine's version of Carne Cruda, offered as a "Battuta di Vitella Piemontese al coltello."


"Plin."



The main plate was a bit light, but each morsel was delicious and well-prepared.
I don't know if this was prepared especially for our group or if this is a normal serving...


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LA CANTINETTA

Via Roma, 33  in Barolo
Tel. 0173/56198
Closed Wednesday nights and Thursdays...
Vacation:  Last half of February, first week of March and the first week of July.
Owned by the Chiappetto family, this is a normal little restaurant in the village of Barolo.  It is not regarded as a "fine dining" establishment by some, but having eaten here twice, I can say I'd love to have such a place in our little town here in California!

The food is served with minimal fanfare and it's not terribly fancy in its presentation, but the quality is very high.

A simple assortment of salumi was excellent!

A pt or mousse was served on a bed of sweet & sour onions...again, not fancy but the flavors were exceptional.

One of the guests in our party, a fellow from France, inquired if they could prepare some "carne cruda."  This caught the owner off guard, but moments later he appeared with a wonderful rendition.

Our main plate this particular afternoon was a platter of "tajarin," the famous Langhe tagliatelle.
 

The wine cellar here is good, but bottles are brought to the table a bit warmer than we'd have liked.
They tried to address this by placing a frozen sleeve around the bottle to bring it to proper cellar temperature.

We had a simple sorbetto for dessert...delicious and refreshing!

******************************************************************


OSTERIA LA CANTINELLA
Via Acqua gelata, 4/a
Barolo
Tel: 0173/56267

A WEB PAGE WITH A LITTLE BIT OF INFO...


Closed Monday evenings (except October, we understand) and Tuesdays.
Vacation closing: January and August
Barolo has two lovely little dining spots with very similar names.  The one listed above it Cantinetta and this place is Cantinella.

We came to this lovely little spot one a Sunday night and called ahead to reserve a table.  The place was fairly busy and it's a comfortable and informal dining experience.  The cooking is simple, "home cooking," rather than anything hugely fancy.


The dining room seats about 35 to 40 and in warm weather, they have an outdoor patio for another 20-25 people.

The wine list was good and features all sorts of prominent, local producers.  We opted for a bottle of Bruno Giacosa Arneis (about 28 Euros, if I recall correctly).

 

 


A starter of a "prosciutto" of Agnello Sambucano (lamb!).

They have a terrific recipe for tagliatelle (tajarin in the local Piemontese dialect) using 40 egg yolks per kilo of flour...this makes for an intense and soulful pasta.

My dining companions each ordered a pasta and both were enthusiastic about their selections (and they are locals).

Maltagliati ("badly cut" in Italian)...

I opted for a grilled pork chop...this was good, but not as soulful as the starter or pasta...


"Bunet al cioccolato" is a classic Langhe dessert...and this was delicious.

We paid 120 Euros for dinner for three with each of having a starter, a pasta, main plate and dessert.

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LA SALITA
Via Marconi, 2a
Monforte d'Alba 
Tel. 0173 787196

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE


Closed  Tuesdays....Opens at 8pm daily except Sunday when they start at noon.

This is a hidden little gem, frequented predominantly by the locals who know good food and good wines.  It's an "osteria" sort of place...prices on the wine list are exceptionally attractive and the selection is good.

The kitchen, as we found out, is quite capable and the food was wonderfully soulful.

A "salita" is a bit of a steep climb and you'll park in the center of town and walk to the Via Marconi, climbing up the steep incline to this hidden dining spot.

A new chef took over in 2008...

The menu is a bit limited, but still features lots of Piemontese specialties.

They also host a jazz series and special dining events.





 

 


A few nibbles are brought to the table as we sit down and peruse both the menu and wine list...



Here the Carne Cruda is not ground beef, but thinly-sliced strips with some fine olive oil and pepper.

The "Maltagliati" are, actually, finely and uniformly cut...

In the Spring this was served with fresh favas and asparagus...very fine!

The main plate was excellent!  Stewed Rabbit paired with a superb bottle of Barolo from the E. Pira winery.


Dessert.

We were not permitted to leave until we had a sip of Champagne (LaSalle Rose) with the owner of the place.

Very nice and quite economical!

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OSTERIA BAROLANDO
piazza Municipio, 2
Barolo
tel 0173 - 56218


This is a new place that's opened in 2007, as we understand it.  It's in the old site of Borgo Antico and is a decidedly "good eats" venue.

There's an informal bar on the ground floor where you can get a coffee or a simple plate, while upstairs in the 'fancy' dining room, you'll find a nice, simple menu and a good list of wines at amazingly good prices.













We had a lovely lunch here one Sunday in May of 2007.  A starter of Tagliolini was a mere 7 Euros.  We chose a bottle of Chiara Boschis' delicious 2005 Dolcetto d'Alba at 13.50 Euros!

Our main plate was the Tagliata di Fassone.  
Fassone is a Piemontese breed prized for its tenderness.  The meat is quickly seared and simply presented...quite good, in fact, though it won't ace out a bistecca Fiorentina in my book.

We didn't need dessert and returned to the car to continue our tour of wineries on a sunny Sunday afternoon...

I looked forward to returning to this little 'find"...see below....

 

 

 

 

 


Tagliolini with rabbit (and a nice bottle of Dolcetto).


Fassone (beef) with potatoes and a salad.

We arrived here in the Spring of 2008...late (as usual) and hungry.  The chef graciously agreed to cook for us...and she whipped up some lovely dishes!


Carne Cruda...Piemonte's delicious 'steak tartare.'


Peppers with a bagna cauda 'sauce'.


"Plin," the famous Piemontese agnolotti.

LUNCH IN 2009: 

The new chef...


Carne Cruda


Lingua con Salsa Verde (tongue)


Plin and a good bottle of Dolcetto.



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L'ANTICA TORRE
Via Torino 8 in Barbaresco (end of the road, a few steps from the winery of the Produttori.
Tel: 0173-63.51.70
Closed Thursdays (all day) and Sunday nights.
Best to call ahead for dinner reservations.

One day they'll build a web site, But Maurizio is too busy making tajarin!


This is one of those reliably good places where the food is typical, well-priced and comfortable.  It's a place where you'll most likely run into the locals rather than tourists (though the town is working to encourage greater tourism).

We stopped in for lunch with the Mayor of Barbaresco, "Duccio" Vacca.  
Duccio isn't really the mayor, but he's a great ambassador for Barbaresco.  Years ago he worked as Angelo Gaja's "right hand" man before assuming the reins of the neighboring winery...a grower's cooperative operated by his father in the late 1950s and 1960s...

Duccio ordered the anchovies with green sauce, a typical Piemontese starter.

The restaurant is highly-regarded for its "tajarin," Piemontese for tagliatelle.


My nephew was shocked by this pasta.  It was one of those revelations for him, tasting perfectly made and perfectly cooked pasta.  He had a sauce of burro e salvia (butter and sage), while Aldo and I opted for a tomato sauced tajarin.  Brian inhaled his bowl and then set about "helping" us finish ours.

The owner of Antica Torre shows off a tray full of delectable tajarin with the Produttori's Aldo Vacca and his son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LUNCH 



Carne Cruda and a good bottle from Cantina del Pino.

Of course, Tajarin here is a "must have."
Don't miss it!
  


We had a terrific bottle of 1978 Barbaresco from the Produttori del Barbaresco...
The wine was still alive and quite complex...classic.



Since there was still some vino on the table, one of our party ordered a cheese plate...

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS OF CHEF MAURIZIO IN HIS
STANZA DI TAJARIN

 

This is a favorite place and they've become well-regarded and often reserved to capacity.

 

 

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TRATTORIA DAI BERCAU

Via Beato ValfrŔ, 13
Verduno
Tel:  0172.470243
Closed Mondays

Click here for their website

This little place is located in the town of Verduno, a Barolo "outpost" that's home of a wonderful 'local' little red wine called Pelaverga.  
It's run by the two guys depicted on the sign to the left...

Ten Euros will get you a starter, a main plate with a side dish, dessert and water and coffee!  For 27 you get 4 antipasti, 2 first plates, 2 main plates with accompanying side dishes and dessert.  Wine, etc., is extra.  They have a large outdoor area, so if you're hosting a busload of guests, you might find this a nice stop in spring or summer.

It's also perhaps the most kid-friendly place to have lunch or dinner...there's a little 'park' that's perfect for keeping the little rug rats busy so you can dine in peace.  But the pasta is good here and the kids will certainly flock back to the table for that!

We had lunch here with our dear friend Tiziana Settimo (who's wines are ottimo).



The chef was busy...


Antipasti and Pelaverga...the wine, served lightly chilled, is delicious with this sort of food.
We were asked if we had any interest in having some truffles with the pasta...
So, one of the partners ran off...returning a few minutes later with a bag of summer truffles.




It didn't take this little guy long to finish this pasta!

The main plate was rather simple...


Dessert featured a gelato made of sheep's milk...

Our friends Connie and Mark dined there in January of 2015.

 

 

 

**************************************

 

OSTERIA ROSSOBAROLO
VIA ROMA 16
BAROLO
Closed Mondays (and three weeks in January)
Tel:  0173/56133

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEBSITE 

We had seen this relatively new place on the main drag in Barolo and made a point to check it out on a weekday in May of 2009.  The place has an elegant feel to it, especially when you enter from the street.  There's a modest amount of seating on the ground floor and we were surprised to find a huge dining room downstairs in the 'cellar.'  The day we stopped in there was some sort of formal lunch taking place and we were introduced to the mayor of Barolo who was dining there.

The wine list is nicely done, featuring good producers from the Langhe and these are offered at very friendly prices.  We ordered a nice bottle of Pira Dolcetto and paid all of ten Euros for this.  

We went back in May of 2011...still quite elegant and modestly-priced.


The menu in May of 2010.



Stemware is elegant and of good quality, too.  

We had lunch starting with a nice plate of Prosciutto and one of Carne Cruda.

My friend ordered a serving of Risotto al Barolo.


Tajarin with Asparagus...


The Spring of 2010 version...


Asparagus with Fonduta.

The main plate was a roast or braise of beef with a wine sauce and hazelnuts...

We organized a nice dinner for some friends there one Saturday night in early Spring...
We were late in arriving, but called to say we're on our way.
"Nessun problema...!!"
We had a terrific, leisurely meal, with numerous bottles of Piemontese wines and typical, local cooking.

 

You can enjoy a sip of Barolo Chinato after your meal...they had Cappellano's (the reference point for this).
Tell them Gerald in California suggested the Chinato...

The prices at this place are rather modest, so you can dine and drink well without breaking the bank.
We look forward to a return visit...



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RISTORANTE BOVIO
Via Alba 17 bis
LA MORRA
Tel: 0173/590303
Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays

CLICK HERE FOR THE WEBSITE

The Bovio family used to own the famous Belvedere restaurant on the top of the hill in La Morra.  Today they have this lovely little place down the hill, still with an impressive view to the east towards Castiglione Falletto and north towards Alba.

We came here for an organized meal with local winemakers.  It was a set menu and the service was efficient and a bit formal.



We had a perfectly nice meal, but the place lacked a bit of 'soul' or energy.  Everything was nicely prepared and well-presented and the staff took care of service in a quick, fast-paced manner. 

At a dinner in 2012...much more "soulful" cooking and relaxed service 

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LA CROTTA
Via Fontana 7
Roddi
Tel: 0173/615187

Closed Monday night and Tuesdays, all day,  and 10 days in January and from the 20th of July to August 10th, give or take a day or two.

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE

This place is a short drive south of Alba in the direction of Verduno and la Morra...we came here for lunch one day when planning to visit some cellars in Verduno.

It's a very typical, old-fashioned Piemontese/Langhe restaurant, although they do have a special wine-by-the-glass unit with some interesting wines.




We scoped out the various selections and ordered the Cadia Pelaverga di Verduno...

 

 

 

 

The Menu Turistico seemed like a bargain at lunch, so we all opted for this...


This was a nice plate of Vitello Tonnato...

For our main bottle of wine we ordered a Rocche Costamagna Barolo "Bricco Francesco."
This was a good example of the 1998 vintage in Barolo...nicely developed and beautifully evolved.


Maltagliati with a sausage sauce.



This isn't ground-breaking cooking...but if you're in the vicinity, it's a nice meal at an affordable price.

 

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VINOTECA CENTRO STORICO
Via Roma 6
Serralunga
TEL: 0173/613203

Closed Mondays

LINK TO TRIP ADVISOR PAGE

This is a really small, little wine bar just below the castle of Serralunga.  They have a terrific array of wines and always seem to have good bottles of Champagne ready to open along with top wines from the Langhe.

We routinely stop in when we're in the area.  It's a great place for a bit of bubbly to perk up your palate after hours of tasting well-structured red wines.  And the kitchen, though tiny, has continued to develop nicely and it's a lovely place for an informal meal.  They have limited seating, with a few tables outside, three or four inside and a bit of seating upstairs.

Alessio holds court behind the bar and he always seems to have an artisan prosciutto ready to hand slice, along with various other salumi options.  It's not "fine dining", but a pleasant, informal neighborhood haunt.  We've seen the kitchen's offerings improve over the years and, while you won't find an extensive menu, the food is of good quality.  Simple, too.

 

The menu is quite limited...they have the usual starters such as Carne Cruda, Insalata Russa, Vitello Tonnato and a Rabbit Terrine.
Main plates were even more limited...prices are quite attractive.
It's a small kitchen...


This was quite an ample serving of Carne Cruda...and we had a nice bottle of Champagne to accompany the starters.


Insalata Russa.


Plin...


Sausage...Potatoes...and a good bottle of Gianfranco Alessandria's Barbera.

In 2011...

A nice bubbly by the glass...


Prosciutto d'Osvaldo from Friuli.
This is a lightly smoked prosciutto of excellent quality...

Carne Cruda was very fine...

A simple pasta was very good...

Cherry tomatoes, tuna and olive oil...

For a secondo...

Sottofiletto di Fassone.  This is lean Piemontese beef.
The 2009 Nebbiolo Langhe from Bartolo Mascarello was exceptional and somehow more complex and soulful than many of the 2007 Barolo wines we'd been tasting all week.

This place continues to improve, so don't be fooled by its informality.
Many local winemakers can be found here, too, as they like to drink the latest discoveries in French "Grower's" Champagnes or check out a bottle of some competitor's wine (at a reasonable price).







Here's a link to a page of apartments at 'farm houses' (some are at wineries)...

CASE NELLE VIGNE

This place has three nice apartments, parking, free wi-fi and it's recently remodeled, so each
unit is modern and up-to-date.
It's in Castiglione Tinella, north of Barbaresco and Alba.


A small travel agency in Turin organizes tours of Piemontese wine country with participants riding around on a Vespa.
http://www.kalitumbatravel.com/en/pikipiki.htm

Here's a page specific to the town of Barolo, with lodging, winery info and restaurants.
BAROLO di BAROLO

 

 

 

VECCHIO PODERE SANTA CRISTIANA
CLICK HERE FOR A LINK

 

 

ROSSO DI SERA
This is a terrific, comfortable agriturismo near the town of Novello.  It's less than ten minutes' drive to Barolo and maybe 20 to Alba.

Roberta Sandrone runs the place and she's a peach!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THEIR WEBSITE

 

 

RIVETTO DAL 1902
Another winemaking family offers a nice get-away place.  The Rivetto clan has seven apartments and they're located a few minutes from Serralunga, maybe 10 from Barolo and 15 from Alba.

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THEIR WEBSITE

Scroll down the page for their guest places...they have a couple of good options.

 

 

E. PIRA (of CHIARA BOSCHIS) in Barolo

 

The famous Barolo producer, Chiara Boschis, has a two bedroom, 2 bathroom place available for weekly rentals.

It's at the top of the town of Barolo and convenient if you're visiting lots of the wine producers in the Langhe.  

 

CLICK HERE FOR HER AGRITURISMO WEB PAGE

 

 

 

 

REVELLO in La Morra
The Revello brothers make modern, polished Barolo wines and there are 4 agriturismo rooms at the winery.
Double rooms are 65-70 Euros, while singles are 50-55, with a three day minimum.

They also have 2 small apartments in the vineyards...

 

CLICK HERE FOR REVELLO'S AGRITURISMO PAGE

 

 

 

 

LOCANDA DEL CENTRO
These folks have a lovely restaurant right in beautiful "downtown" Castiglione Falletto and there are maybe 4 rooms for rent at a modest price.

The restaurant is comfortable, informal and of good quality...nice wines, as well.

From here you're 15 minutes to Alba, 5 minutes to La Morra, 5 minutes to Barolo and 10 minutes to Monforte...The Vietti winery is a minute and a half stroll up the hill.

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR ROOM'S PAGE

It's not presently in English, but you can see the room and the modest prices...

 

PUNSET WINERY AGRITURISMO

Our friend Marina Marcarino makes some lovely wines on the outskirts of Neive in the Barbaresco area.
She has a couple of nice apartments...
Here's a Link...CLICK HERE

 

ADA NADA

This little family winery in Treiso has a few guest rooms.
CLICK HERE FOR A LINK

 

VILLA TIBOLDI

This is a fancier hotel/restaurant/winery owned by our friends, the Damonte family.
Here's a link to their web site.

This is in the Roero area, north of Alba/Barolo and Barbaresco

 

 

 

TRAVEL LANGHE & ITALIAN WINE TOURS

Leslie & Robert Alexander have put down roots in the Langhe and are now well-connected to the wine & food scene there.

She, by the way, is a marvelous artist and her paintings are beautifully eye-catching and stylish.  

Contact them if you want to organize a serious gastronomical visit of the Langhe and Roero regions:  they know the top vintners, restaurants and secret spots and can organize a terrific itinerary for you.

If you want to learn a bit of Piemontese cooking, with a minimum of two people (and a maximum of 6), they'll take you to the local markets, shop for food, return to the kitchen and demonstrate various local specialties.
You'll spend about 5 or 6 hours with them, from market to kitchen to table (and including some good wines to go with the meal!)...

 

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR MARVELOUS WEB SITE

Leslie's studio and gallery are in Neive.  
Here's a link to her beautiful, artistic web site!

 

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