We returned to Piemonte for our annual visit to Piemonte this month. This time we booked one of several modern apartments available at the Cordero di Montezemolo winery in the village of Annunziata, just a few kilometers from La Morra. La Morra is our favorite spot in the region. The views from our apartment were a panorama of the Barolo wine country, and the folks at Montezemolo were cordial hosts. Annunziata is just twenty minutes from Alba and provides easy access to many of our favorite restaurants.
We had ten nights this trip and more than that number of meals, returning to our favorite restaurants and trying a few that were new to us. Our best meals were at the restaurants we know well, although a few of the places we have visited over the years did not quite deliver. Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso and Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d’Alba were outstanding. Two dinners at Il Veglio in Annunziata and a lunch at Trattoria Marsupino in Briaglia also lived up to our high expectations. However, to our surprise, the food at Il Centro in Priocca was a bit disappointing (Enrico Cordero and his family continue to be our favorite hosts). Similarly, our lunch at I Bologna was just ordinary this time around. A lunch at Da Bardon confirmed last year's impression that it is a great place for wine, but the food is just okay.
At Allende’s suggestion, we tried Pane e Vino, a trattoria in Cherasco. Our lunch at this homey friendly restaurant was very successful. And a light dinner at Centro Storico in Sinnelunga d’Alba also was lovely. However, a dinner at the upscale, Michelin-starred Larossa in Alba was an expensive waste of time. There certainly are good and sometimes elegant starred restaurants in Piemonte — for example Ciau (one star), Il Centro (one star) and da Renzo in Cervere (two stars) — but invariably they are family-run places, where the kitchens stay fully grounded in local traditions. So when Michelin characterizes a restaurant in the Langhe as “modern,” I would advise caution.
Our best antipasti in our dozen or so meals included the fonduta and sausage stuffed baked onion at Trattoria Della Posta, the tuna filled roasted peppers there, the little fried frogs leg appetizer at Ciau and the carne battuta at Veglio. We had dozens of wonderful pastas, including the tagliarin al sugo di carne at Il Centro, a pappardelle with venison ragu at Veglio, seirasse filled agnolotti at Ciau and a stupendous tagliarin with morels also at Ciau. Our number one secondo was the baby lamb chops at Trattoria della Posta (the lamb was wrapped in bechemel, breaded and pan fried), but we also loved the roast veal al nebbiolo at Veglio and the baby goat preparations at both at Veglio and Marsupino. Great desserts included an exquisite panna cotta at Trattoria della Posta, the panna cotta at Veglio and a coffee and fiore di latte ice cream sundae at Ciau.
Great wine lists are of course abundant in Piemonte. This time around we were especially impressed by the lists and wine service at Marsupino, Ciau, Il Centro and Trattoria della Posta. If you go to Ciau, don’t miss taking a tour of the wine cellar. It simply is awesome.