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Restaurants & Bars

Trip Report Milan/Piemonte Nov 2021

bigjppop | Jan 15, 202206:39 AM     1

I'm a bit slow but I got a lot of good advice from this group and want to share at least a few thoughts from my last trip to Milan and Piemonte last November. Overall, Awesome! Especially the Piedmont. I went with two buddies and we had a great time.

First up was Milan, we flew in/out of there. I think it's a really beautiful city but you need to scratch just a little deeper to really enjoy it. I've passed through several times and the first couple visits I didn't really care for it, but it has grown on me. This last trip we ended up eating at some trendier/hipster type places and that was probably a mistake. I think I'd prefer a more traditional meal next time.

We started the eating with lunch at the famous al'Antico Vanaio and all I can say is, it lives up to the hype! Had to wait in line for 30 minutes but it was so good, we did it again the next day. The three of us each got a different sandwich, cut it in thirds, and swapped. We just grabbed a bottle of wine from a local shop, took our haul back to our AirBnB, and had a fantastic lunch. Highly recommended.

Dinners, we didn't do as well. First stop was Ratana, a place that had been recommended by many, and while the food was good, the overall experience was rather poor. They are in a RUSH to push people through as quickly as they can; they want to turn tables. I've been living in Europe for the last 10 years and I can't remember ever feeling pushed like that. Just as an example, we ordered an aperitif to start and literally as it was poured, they wanted our next wine order and food. We quickly rushed to come up with something and within seconds our next wine had arrived and the guy started pouring. I had to tell him to stop, we had barely sipped the aperitif and weren't ready yet. The entire night (short as it was) went like that and we actually canceled our next bottle of wine because they told us we had to leave because someone else needed our table. Food was good, experience/service was poor and I certainly wouldn't return.

Next dinner was 28 Posti, another recommended spot but more on the trendy/hipster side. We did the tasting menu and while the food was good, pretty much every course had something fermented and in the vein of modern Nordic food. Good, but really not what we wanted. Also, the wine pairings were terrible. We ordered two bottles and hated both. Super hipster/natural and we told the host that was not the style of wine we preferred. That's what we got anyway. I probably wouldn't return, just not really my style or what I was looking for in Milan, but for someone else that was into a more modern/nordic/natural wine type vibe, this could be your jam.

Few other odds and ends in Milan but it was time to pick up the car and head to the Langhe. GREAT couple of days and someplace I expect to return to regularly. We went for truffles and wine and sadly, the harvest this year has been rough which meant prices were 2-3 times what they were when I visited two years ago. Still awesome, but expensive!

Our first dinner was at Repubblica in Monforte d'Alba. We happened to be there while it was CRAZY foggy everywhere we went and driving on those tiny roads up and down the hills was rough! We stayed in La Morra which meant driving up/down the mountain for most things. We had really hoped to visit Osteria Veglio but sadly it was booked. Everything on this trip was booked up very early in advance. Dinner at Repubblica was actually a lot of fun. There was a local winemaker there that was hosting several friends and colleagues for a big dinner so it was just my table of three, and their table of the rest of the restaurant. This is a tiny place, as mom and pop as it gets, but we had a great time. Small menu of just a few choices per course but food and wine were both very reasonably priced. We had a great Italian sparkler to start from et Voila that we all loved and now I need to find more. We decided to focus on Barbera for this dinner and very much enjoyed our bottle but our winemaker friend made sure to send several glasses to our table of whatever he opened for us to try. Really a great night! My favorite of the night was the Rinaldi Barbera d'Alba, another one I'll be seeking out.

The next night required another foggy drive but boy was it worth it! Trattoria La Coccinella. I'd been before and had a good experience, but everyone I talked to RAVES about the place and I couldn't figure out why. I decided to give it another shot and instead of the truffle menu that I ordered last time, we all went with choices off the classic menu. That is for sure the way to go! Get a truffle dish or two, but EVERYTHING on the classic menu (all three of us ordered different dishes) was awesome. They also have a killer list of aged Barolo and Barbaresco and for incredibly fair prices. We had a 71 Produttori that was fantastic and a 78 Barolo from a producer I can't remember that was also outstanding. Everything about the night, the food, the wine, the fire crackling away in the corner, was perfect. Highly recommended and I can't wait to go back.

Our last meal was at Ristorante Bovio and again, can't recommend them enough. Beautiful location that looks out from the hill top of La Morra over the valley. Sadly, the crazy fog was covering everything, but it was still beautiful. The dining room was gorgeous, the service was top notch, and they gave us a tour of their amazing cellar when we finished. We branched out a bit on our wine selection here and had a beautiful bottle of Bruno Paillard champagne that I really enjoyed. Our next wine was a 2006 Corton-Charlamagne Grand Cru from Joseph Drouhin that was an absurd 90 Euro. We also did a Barbaresco from Pio Cesare. One of my favorite dishes of the trip was the risotto with white truffle we started our meal with here and every course was just as delicious. I'll for sure visit here again as well.

Overall, really fantastic trip and if you're a food/wine lover, this is where you want to be.

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