We are back from nine days in Piemonte. For the first time in several years we made our annual pilgrimage in the fall. The weather was beautiful, the white truffles and porcini were abundant and the vineyards, post harvest, were still beautiful. As in 2018, we stayed at one of the apartments on the grounds of the Cordero di Montezemolo winery in Annunziata, just below La Morra — there are now five modern units there and even a pool. The views over the Barolo vineyards are magnificent. We highly recommend it.
Over the course of our stay, we had major meals at La Ciau del Tornavento (Treiso), Il Centro (Priocca), Osteria Veglio (Annunziata), La Coccinella (Serravalle Langhe), Trattoria della Posta (Monforte d’Alba), Pane e Vino (Cherasco) and I Rebbi (Monforte). And we had light lunches at Reppublica di Perno (Perno), Osteria Tre Case (Serralunga d’Alba) and L’Aromatario (Neive).
The dining experiences that stood out were our two dinners at Veglio, a really good meal at Coccinella and a superb lunch at Ciau. And I’d give an honorable mention to Reppublica di Perno, where we had two excellent dishes from a small lunch menu.
Veglio and Coccinella are remarkable both because of their consistently good food and the charm and attentiveness of family owners. Indeed, I doubt that anyone in a restaurant has ever taken better care of my wife and me than the two brother-owners at Coccinella (a third brother is the chef). Ciau, though welcoming, is rather formal, its service and ambiance reminiscent of a two star restaurant in France. The food nonetheless is grounded in the local tradition and altogether excellent.
We had good but not quite memorable meals at Il Centro and Trattoria della Posta. We would never skip Il Centro on a trip to the region, especially because of our decades-long relationship with the wonderful Cordero family. However, this time around, we didn’t have quite enough appetite (after a week of eating), and the restaurant was so crowded at Sunday lunch that it was difficult to spend the time we would have liked with Enrico and his son Giampiero. And Trattoria della Posta seemed a little off — the food we ordered did not match up to Veglio or Coccinella. We did have an excellent, classic dinner at Pane e Vino (another family-run place), but unfortunately our meal at I Rebbi (this our first visit) was disappointing.
Memorable antipasti included: The warm chicken salad with pumpkin, chestnuts and foie gras, the cardoons with fonduta and the roasted, sausage-stuffed cabbage, all at Veglio; the baked sausage and fonduta-stuffed onion at Trattoria della Posta; the fennel dusted flash fried frogs legs at Ciau; the crudo at both Veglio and Coccinella; and the tortino of parmigiana and cardoons at la Reppublica di Perno.
In terms of “primi,” there were a plethora of terrific plates of tagliarin al sugo and of course many good versions of plin, but I would count as truly memorable the tagliarin with porcini at Coccinella; the ravioli filled with fonduta at Veglio: a ravioli filled with rice and cabbage at Reppublica di Perno; and the risotto with black truffles at Il Centro. We ordered relatively few “secondi,” but a couple of standouts were the veal chop breaded with crushed grissini at Ciau and the snails served in the classic French style at Pane e Vino. As for dessert, nothing beats the panna cotta at Trattoria della Posta, although the trio of traditional desserts at Coccinella (panna cotta, chocolate bunet and pear poached in Barolo wine) was quite tasty.
Among the many sensational wines this time around were: A 2017 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Vigna Cerretta; a 2012 Cigliutti Barbaresco Serraboella; a 2013 Mascarello Barolo Villero; and a 2015 La Spinnetta Barbaresco Starderi.
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