My husband and I have just returned from our first trip to Italy, during which we spent 3 nights in Piemonte, and we are both now suffering badly from Post-Langhe Depression!
Many thanks to Allende, PH Rodgers, and other CHers who generously shared their experiences here and helped us plan our trip. We followed PH Rodgers' advice of one major meal per day (and literally planned nothing around it, haha).
NB: I have a dairy allergy, which guided my menu selections (and all the restaurants were very gracious about it)
Il Centro - dinner
We had high expectations from the rave reviews here, but our experience still blew us away. Truly, the most memorable meal of our lives. Enrico and Giampiero are the kindest, warmest people we could imagine and Giampiero took great care of us, advising on the menu and wine.
I started with stuzzichini of tomato granita with ginger (outstanding), anchovy stuffed pepper, and a little toast thing with aubergine and fish. For antipasto, I had the rabbit with borage and acacia honey, which was served with a celeriac cream and rillette. This was my favorite dish of the meal - absolutely perfect combination of flavors.
Next was a summer soup of tomatoes, basil, vegetables, and beans - it was simple, fresh, and a beautiful expression of the end of summer, but I wished I had tried a pasta.
My secondo was sliced tongue (fabulous) with a sauce of late summer garden vegetables.
My husband also had 3 courses: sweetbreads (his favorite of the night), buttery tajarin with a VERY generous amount of black truffle (a close second), and a seafood secondo: octopus, squid, and red mullet.
We had a bottle of 2013 Bera Barbaresco, at Giampiero's suggestion.
Following dinner, Giampiero showed us the impressive wine cellar and even suggested a few wineries to visit during our stay.
226 EUR, including 55 for wine, with 2 desserts and digestifs (BTW, I wish I knew how hard Barolo Chinato is to find in the States so I could have brought some back!)
Osteria Veglio - lunch
Not warm enough to enjoy the terrace unfortunately, but we were very comfortable in the dining room. Very quiet day - only 3 other occupied tables. The service was very professional, but I wished it was warmer, especially after our experience the night prior. We again went for 3 courses, but these portions were much bigger than Il Centro! I was stuffed for the rest of the day.
Stuzzichino: Russian salad.
Antipasto: mine was the anchovy / tuna stuffed pepper. There were 2 giant stuffed peppers - it was a little too much for an appetizer. Husband had zucchini salad with warm chicken and smoked foie gras, which he rated a 12 out of 10!
Primo: I had tajarin with veal sugo. Their tajarin wasn't as thin as Il Centro but I loved the springy bite. I still dream of this dish. Husband had pappardelle with venison (excellent).
Secondo: Roast rabbit with agrodolce peppers for me (delicious! I would love to know more about this dish - does it have a soy glaze?), Braised veal with mashed potato for my husband (also very good).
Overall, excellent, consistent food, but again I wished for more warmth in the service.
122 EUR, including 4 glasses of wine
After lunch, we stopped in Barolo and tasted some wine at Il Bacco, a lovely little enoteca. We picked up 2 bottles of 2013 Barolo to bring home. Then we swung by the Slow Food Cheese festival in Bra (I just took photos of all the delicious-looking dairy delights). We ended the evening with a 2011 Orlando Abrigo Rongalio Barbaresco at the enoteca in Neive.
La Coccinella - lunch
Service here was very warm and the dining room was full. Again, 3 courses - I couldn't resist! Husband skipped the antipasto.
1. Tomato terrine with eggplant. This was outstanding - delicate and fresh.
2. Tajarin with porcini. I preferred Veglio's tajarin and unfortunately my plate was a touch too salty. Husband had the seafood lasagna, which he loved - his favorite course of the lunch.
3. Veal with agrodolce peppers. Again, too salty. Husband had mixed grilled seafood which he also found overly salted.
Overall, this meal disappointed us as we had high expectations and loved the service / setting, but found our plates overly salty.
96 EUR, including 3 glasses of wine.
That evening, we enjoyed the wine festival back at our base in Neive.
Il Centro - Sunday lunch
We decided to delay our departure to Lerici in order to get in one more meal at Il Centro! A different vibe in the dining room, but still warm, attentive service.
1. I again had the rabbit (my favorite plate of the entire trip); husband again had sweetbreads
2. I had tajarin with sausage ragu (a mix and match scenario due to my dairy allergy). The tajarin was unbelievably thin and light! Husband had the plin.
3. I went for the herb breaded steak. The beef had a wonderful depth of flavor, but the dish wasn't very memorable. Husband had the hunter's style chicken, which was fantastic.
Once again, Giampiero took care of our wine selection. We had a 1997 Ceretto Bricco Rocche Prapo Barolo. I swooned.
220 EUR, including 95 for wine
We were not able to visit Marsupino because they were closed for vacation. No doubt we will be back to this magical corner of the world!