Dining at La Piola in Alba – a total foodgasm!

Well hello lovie!

If you are serious about trying regional foods and you’re in the Piedmont region – do yourself a favour and book at table STAT at La Piola!  Let me start by giving you a bit of background into why this bistro is so special.

Firstly, it all starts with the Ceretto Family – 3 generations that have a passion for food, wine and art.  I could bang on and on about all they own and have achieved but click here and you’ll get a better idea.  So they are the owners of the famous Piazza Duomo based in Alba – the only 3 star Michelin restaurant in the region.  To get a booking is incredibly difficult and not only that, you’ll have to sell your kidney to pay for it!  Lucky for me, underneath Piazza Duomo is La Piola almost like their baby sister bistro. All coming together now?  Great!  So I will mention that when you sit down at La Piola you’ll have a beautifully decorated plate in front of you that they use as an underplate.   There are 36 in the collection and they’re done by American artists and you can buy them from the winery but one plate is about $200 AUSD.  Here’s the two I ate off and I’m inspired to look for something locally for home now!

1st night

I went there on a recommendation from Matteo from Langaround and I didn’t know what to expect.  I was greeted warmly by the lovely Simona despite the fact amongst a sea of couples/families I was a solo diner.  Simona spoke wonderful English and we discussed the food and wine throughout the evening so I was able to learn about the food/wine as the meal progressed.  Here’s what went down:

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First course

An Assortment of Cured Salami served with some pickled carrot, cauliflower and capsicum with the obligatory basket of bread!  The charcuterie was so incredible, each meat had a distinct flavour however the literal icing on the cake was that there was a drizzle of honey over the dish.  I’ve never eaten charcuterie before this way but will always do this moving forward!

I paired this with the Brut Marcalberto (Sansanne) which is like a prosecco (which I normally can’t stand) but this cut through the fat of the meat beautifully.

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Second course

Fresh homemade “tajarin” with Salsiccia sauce. The Tajarin is a local specialty and is obviously pasta like tagliatelle but much thinner and lighter.  You’d look at this dish and think, “oh it’s like spaghetti bolognese” which it is in some ways however it really is delicate yet full of flavour – i loved it!

I paired this with a wine from the Ceretto winery of course.  The Ceretto Barolo 2012 which is one of the more bolder reds in the region that could compliment the meat.

At this point I was completely full as I’d eaten a fair bit that day so I booked a table for the next night intending to arrive on an empty stomach this time!


2nd Night

So this time I was prepared.  I was ravenous already and was determined to push my comfort zone and try some regional specialties that I normally wouldn’t even think about trying.  As I walked in I was greeted again by Simona with a loud “Ciao Lisa!” – I was home!  Here we go!

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First course

Mixed hors d’oeuvre of the Piedmont region  – the prettiest dish I’ve seen in a long time and my favourite course of the whole experience!  it was made up of:

  • fresh asparagus with parmesan
  • slices of roasted veal with tuna fish mayonnaise
  • diced roast vegetables with tuna fish mayonnaise
  • raw veal tartare with a parmesan shaving

I’m really not a tuna fan so was quite hesitant but it was a really light flavour that completely complimented the meat.  I’d had the raw veal tartare in another bistro a few days ago and I’m sold!  The meat here is very low in fat so you get the true flavour.  The way to eat it is to spread it out on your plate, crush sea salt on top and with every mouthful have a bit of a bread stick!

I paired it with the Extra Brut Contratto (like the prosecco again but more floral).  This was incredibly easy drinking and again, worked well with the meat.

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Second course

Cod croquettes served with zucchini and salsa verde sauce.  What can I say about this, the zucchini was incredibly tender, the salsa verde delicious and the croquettes were like little clouds.

I paired this with the Langhe Bianco Nascetta E. Germano which is extremely unique to this region.  Not quite like a riesling but certainly has the floral nose to match.  It was light enough to not drown out those little cod clouds.

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Third course

Gianduiotto, raspberry sauce and hazelnut biscuit crumble – clearly the hero shot!  Gianduiotto originates in the Piedmont region and is shaped like a boat upside down – it was like a thick chocolate mousse and complimented perfectly with the syrupy raspberry sauce and the crunch of the crumble.  Mouth watering!

I paired it with the Barolo Chinato which I’ve never heard of or even tasted before.  Best way to describe it is that it’s like a dessert wine but has been fermented with a variety of herbs and barks and every mouthful you can taste something different – really unique!

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What made this dining experience so special was that I was treated like a family member both nights by the staff and in particular Simona.  The atmosphere was lively and the people watching was fun – from the couple in love, to the stylish woman who arrived all in black with the most amazing earrings and her fluffy dog, to the group of rowdy men who turned up at 9.45pm to start their evening.  I loved every minute of it and will always endeavour to eat here when I’m in the region.

Be fabulous xx