I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THESE RESTAURANTS
Eating out in Piedmont is one of the finest of pleasures. Food-lovers from Milan and Turin flock south every weekend to visit their favourite restaurants – for Saturday evening or Sunday lunchtime, therefore, it’s usually a good idea to book a table.
Printed menus are rare. Usually the proprietor tells you what is available – or is happy to choose for you when you can’t decide, so that he can surprise you with a never-ending sequence of fine dishes. Sometimes you need only select from large platters of antipasti that are carried from table to table – choose what you fancy, and stop when you have had enough. The only thing you have to do is order the wine.
A typical Piedmontese meal starts with at least four different antipasti (starters) but there can be as many as ten and even more. Each one is served individually and the dishes are eaten one by one.
First come the cold dishes, followed by hot ones, which end usually in one or two or three different home-made pastas. Risotti are also very popular – Piedmont is the biggest rice-producer in Europe. Untrained diners probably give up at this stage, not so the Piedmontese – they are now looking forward to enjoying a main course, and often more than one – two are standard, but three or more are possible.
If by some chance you can still manage it, you can choose from various excellent local cheeses. Lovers of desserts are also here in the best of hands: Piedmont is famous for its wonderful hazelnut cakes, always served with a Moscato zabaione, and for many other delicious puddings.
In Piedmont, a restaurant selected at random will usually be excellent – excellence is the rule rather than the exception. Therefore the following list is far from exhaustive – it is only a selection of our personal favourites.
Some appear in published guides, and some do not, but we can recommend each and every one of them.
Piedmont is certainly one of the top wine regions in the world, but in terms of quantity it ranks behind other Italian regions. This is due to the fact that the first priority is quality – wine growing is more strictly regulated than in other parts of Italy.
To experience the real Piedmont, travel in the wine-country during the autumn harvest. At this time families and friends work side by side in the vineyards, the children have time off school, and there is only one concern – the new wine. The vineyards are with few exceptions small – big estates hardly exist. In the large vineyards typical of Tuscany and Umbria, crowds of hired pickers have to be imported – but in South Piedmont the wine business is mainly a family affair.
Some enoteche are sited in castles and palazzi and other historically interesting buildings. Often an enoteca is attached to a wine-making museum and a restaurant where you can enjoy a fine meal to accompany the wine.
Botteghe del vino are usually more modest and in most cases run by the vineyard owners. They are mainly open on weekends, and often provide the opportunity to sample other home-made products as well as the wine.
Trattoria I Bologna
Via Nicola Sardi 4
Tel 0141 644 600
Stylish trattoria run by the famous Bologna family. Menu changes daily. Local specialities. Cash only. (closed Tues)
Ristorante Da Fausto
Localitá Valle Prati 1
Tel 0144 325 387
Expensive, but quoted among the 10 top restaurants in the world by the US wine magazine ‘Wine Spectator’. Food out of this world. Evenings only (closed Sun)
Il Cascinale Nuovo
Via Asti-Alba 15
Tel 0141 958 166
Restaurant and guesthouse.
Fine cuisine, excellent wine list. Spacious and modern interior. Swimming pool and large garden.
Via alle Fonti 125
Tel 0141 954 018
Pleasant family-run spa hotel with ambitious restaurant. Lovely garden with swimming pool.
Trattoria della Posta ‘da Camulin’
Via Negro 2
Tel 0141 88 126
Well-known and critically acclaimed for its top quality food.
Excellent wine list. (closed Sun pm, Mon)
Ristorante I Caffi
Via Scatilazzi 15
15011 Acqui Terme
Tel 0144 325 206
Used to be in the small village called Caffi on the top of a hill with wonderful views. Now in the old part of Acqui Terme in a wonderful location. Exciting ‘tasting’ menus, with wines to match each course, either from the list or from the well-stocked enoteca. The placed is divided into a Brasserie section and a first class restaurant. The restaurant has 1 Michelin star.
(closed Sun & Mon)
Valle San Giovanni
Tel 0141 769 011
Distinctive local cuisine, cooked to perfection, excellent wine list with emphasis on Barbera d’Asti wine. Maria (88 years old) is still in charge of the kitchen.
Agriturismo La Viranda
Regione Corte 64
14050 San Marzano Oliveto
Tel 0141 856 571
This may not look like the typical place that you would like to eat, but trust me. You will regret it if you don't. Run by Lorella (in the kitchen) & her brother Claudio (the winemaker), this is an amazing place. So authentic, so down to earth and yet the highest quality of local food & wine that you will find anywhere in the area. A must try and one of my absolute favourite places. You can also sleep there. A double room will cost you € 30, but then you also have breakfast included.
Ristorante Universo di Cortese
Via Caduti 6
Tel 0141 88 167
Pleasant and relaxed, popular with families. Endless procession of antipasti and dessert dishes – choose what and as much as you fancy. Good wine list.
(closed Mon, Tues, Wed)
Ristorante La Rotonda
Via Migliardi 9
Tel 0141 726 035
A casual, modern restaurant, very popular during the summer season for its large swimming pool. Delightful food is served in the evenings at the pool side.
Ristorante ‘Due Laterne’
Tel 0141 702 480
Midtown restaurant serving excellent food. Fine wine list.
Santo Stefano Belbo
Tel 0141 844 233
Popular trattoria, local dishes with the freshest seasonal ingredients. Inexpensive. (closed Tues)
Ristorante ‘Falcon Vecchio’
Via Mameli 9
Tel 0141 593 106
Cosy restaurant in 13th building in the centre of Asti serving excellent local food. Fine Piedmontese wine list (closed Mon, all creditcards)
Ristorante “Il Convivio Vini e Cucina”
Via G.B. Giuliani 6
Tel 0141 594 188
In the heart of historical Asti, popular restaurant, local dishes with the freshest seasonal ingredients (closed Sun, all creditcards)
Ristorante ‘La Grotta’
Corso Torino 366
Tel 0141 214 168 – 214 301
Long established and well known restaurant serving creative, Piedmontese cuisine. Comprehensive wine list (closed Mon.evening & Tues, all creditcards).
Ristorante “L’Angelo del Beato”
Via Guttuari 12
Tel 0141 531 668
Elegant restaurant, situated in an medival building. Beautifully presented food for gourmets. Excellent wine list (closed Sun, all creditcards)
Harvest-time can last up to two months, due to the large number of different grape varieties with their variable ripening times. White varieties ripen earlier than red ones, and vines in the valleys are harvested before the vines on the hills. The advantage is that producers need fewer people to harvest the crop. When the harvest is over, tradition dictates that producers and helpers reward themselves for their hard work with an al fresco banquet.
Choosing wine in Piedmont is not easy: Luckily there are dozens of public and private enoteche (wine exhibition centres) and botteghe del vino (wineries) which invite visitors to taste and learn about Piedmontese wine. Both the enoteca and the bottega del vino are always well signposted. Reservations are generally not required, but bear in mind that you are usually expected to pay for what you consume!
ENOTECHE IN PIEMONTE:
Enoteca Regionale di Acqui Terme
Piazza Levi 7
Tel 0144 770 273/4
Tues, Fri, Sat and Sun 10:00 to 12.00
Thurs 15:00 to 18:30
Cantina dei Vini di Costigliole d’Asti
Via Roma 9
Tel 0141 961 661
Friday 10:00 to 12:00
Sat, Sun 10:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 18:00, 16:00 to 19:00 in summer
Enoteca Regionale Canelli
Tel 0141 823 431
Enoteca Regionale di Mango
Piazza XX Settembre 1
Tel 0141 89633/89141
All weekdays 9:00 to 12:30 and 16:00
Enoteca Regionale Castello di Barolo
Tel 0173 56 277
All weekdays 10:00 to 12:30 and 15:00 to 18:30
Enoteca Regionale Vino del Roero
Via Roma 57
Tel 0173 978 228
All weekdays 9:30 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 19:30, except Wednesdays
Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco
Via Torino 8/a
Tel 0173 63 251
All weekdays 9:30 to 13:00 and 14:30 to 18:00, except Wednesdays
Enoteca Regionale di Grinzane Cavour
Tel 0173 262 159
October to March : weekdays 9:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:30
April to September : weekdays 14:30 to 18:30
Bottega Nizza Monferrato
Via Crova 2
Tel 0141 726 938
Fridays 10:00 to 12:00
Sat, Sun 10:00 to 12:00 and 16:00 to 20:00
Wines: Barbera, Dolcetto, Moscato, Grignolino, Freisa, Cortese, Brachetto
Bottega Costiglione d’Asti
Via Roma 9
Tel 0141 961 661
Fridays 10:00 to 12:00
Sat, Sun 10:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 18:00
Wines: all wines and grappas of the region
Bottega Langa Astigiana Valle Bormida
San Giorgio Scarampi
Via Roma 6
Tel 0144 89 230
Wines: Moscato, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, Dolcetto, Freisa, Cortese, Brachetto d’Acqui, Chardonnay Piemonte
Bottega Castagnole Lanze
Via Bettica 13
Tel 0141 877219/877132
Sat, Sun 9:00 to 12:30 and 15:00 to 19:00
Wines: Barbera, Moscato, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Cortese, Chardonnay Piemonte
Bottega dei Quattro Vini
Tel 0173 671 100
Wed, Thur, Fri 14:00 to 19:00
Sat, Sun 10:30 to 13:00, 14:30 to 19:00
Vineria Da Taschet
Piazza Piacentino 11
Via Don Reggio
Tel 0141 77081/793910
Wines: Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, Barolo, Grignolino, Brachetto, Malvasia, Chiaretto, Barbera Bianco, Asti Spumante, Spumante Brut, Moscato, Cortese, Barbaresco
Bottega Grignolino d’Asti
Piazza Marconi 16
Tel 0141 202 666
Sat, Sun 10:00 to 12:30 and 15:00 to 18:00
Wines: Grignolino, Barbera, Ruchè
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