An ode to Piedmont
This post has been a long time coming, mainly due to sheer laziness. But I wanted to document just some of the amazing of places I ate whilst living in northern Italy for 12 months. After six months of reflection, to say that it was the best year of my life is an understatement, and to try and express what a magical region Piedmont is, also impossible.
An endless sea of vineyards cloak the rolling hills of this region like patchwork; the snow-capped Alps ever present, almost to a 360 degree vista; the scent of hazelnuts and truffles perfume the air; and bellies are always filled with the heartiest of foods and the richest of wines. This is Piedmont.
A place I have grown very fond of and a place I called home, despite my limited grasp of the language and probable inability to ever sustainably live there; I will always be drawn back to Piedmont.
I ate so many wonderful meals throughout the year, dining at simple Osteria’s to three star Michelin establishments. What never altered was the quality of the produce and the passion behind each dish. A sense of place and cultural identity clearly portrayed on each plate.
Even if I thought by the end I couldn’t face another bite of vitello tonnato, bagna càuda or panna cotta, I’m now dreaming of when my next mouthful will be.
Here’s my pick of the best and my ode to Piedmont.
Piazza Risorgimento, 4, Alba CN
Three Michelin stars and a truly special dining experience. A menu guided by traditions but executed in fine dining style. Impeccable service and a wine list of biblical proportions to wade through.
I would easily put Piazza Duomo on the same level as Osteria Francescana in Modena.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 199, Bra CN
Old school Italian café with perfect patisseries, coffee and upscale aperitivo. Many hours were spent here pretending to study for exams and gossiping with friends.
Piazza XX Settembre 11, Bra, CN
Opened by a graduate from the same University I attended, L’Alfieri is a much needed addition to the Bra dining scene. It is youthful yet sophisticated and does brunch, real brunch, with eggs. The bar is also one of the only places in Bra to get a decent cocktail.
Osteria La Bocca Buona
Via Audisio, 22, Bra CN
One of the more modern restaurants in Bra, still serving classic Piedmont dishes but with their own flair. It was one of my first meals in Bra and I had a white risotto which came with a pool of bone marrow broth in the centre and remains one of the best risottos I’ve ever encountered.
Via G. Piumati, 19, Bra CN
This restaurant is attached to the only winery located in the city of Bra which is also worth a tour. Murivechhi serves the kind of food you expect from your Nona. Heart-warming, huge portions and no fuss. The risotto which is literally presented in a cauldron sized pot at the table is a must.
Pizzeria S. Lucia
Piazza Roma, 45, Bra CN
Best pizza in Bra, referred to by locals as three sister’s pizzeria as that’s whose running the show. Whatever you order make sure it has salsiccia di bra.
Via Roma, 57, Canale CN
Great menu with a contemporary take on traditional dishes. Beautifully presented and exceptional service. Great wine list too.
In LA MORRA
Via Alba, 17, La Morra CN
Traditional restaurant with spectacular views over the La Morra valley. Go during the warmer months and enjoy lunch on the vast terrace.
Al Nido Della Cinciallegra
Via Giachino, 21, Neive CN
Not a restaurant but the best place to taste and buy wine from the region. An excellent range at the best prices I encountered. The lovely lady who owns the shop is more than happy for you to taste the wine and always has a large selection on offer.
In SERRALUNGA d’ALBA
Via Alba, 15, Serralunga d’Alba CN
Gorgeous dining room in a stately building on the Fontanafredda winery estate, Guido is a charming dining experience and extremely good value. Very friendly and considered service, the kind of environment in which a lunch could easily linger into the early evening.
You cannot miss out on the fior di latte mantecato al momento, the most purest and simplest of desserts. Fresh cow’s milk gelato, churned at the moment of serving, it is presented at the table in a voluptuous mountain of creamy deliciousness and then individually scooped into your bowl. On one occasion I witnessed an elderly man at an adjacent table request white truffle be shaved on top of his fior di latte, respect!
Vinoteca Centro Storico
Via Roma 6, Serralunga d’Alba, CN
Small vinoteca in the shadows of the Castle on the hill of Serralunga d’Alba. Perfect for sharing plates of freshly sliced ham and cheese. Pick a bottle of wine from the floor to ceiling shelves which enclose the small space.
La Ciau del Tornavento
Piazza Leopoldo Baracco, 7, Treiso CN
Perched on the top of the hill in the small town of Treiso, La Ciau del Tornavento is a grand establishment with a stunning dining room exposing floor to ceiling glass doors which open out to a beautiful grassed terrace with views over the vineyard blanketed valley.
Enjoying a glass of champagne and amuse-bouche on the terrace is the perfect start to what follows, a seamless dining experience. It goes down as the best florentine steak I ate whilst in Italy, and I sampled quite a few.
We also got an exclusive tour of the incredible wine cellar, the opportunity to ogle over their vast wine assets is definitely worth it.
Via Monte di Pieta, 23, Torino
A menu rooted in the Piedmont region yet presented in a modern way. Very meat focused and quite famous for its quinto quarto (literally the “fifth quarter”), the offal of butchered animals. The wine list is focused on natural wines and the staff are very knowledgeable.
Banco Vini e Alimenti
Via dei Mercanti 13/f, Torino
Hip wine bar with a great bar menu. Adventurous wine list, mostly natural, and snacks which will see you through several bottles.