We love the Barolo wine region and the surrounding area so much. We were first drawn here in 2014 when we spent a week in the area hiking through vineyards, visiting wineries and dining in some of the most amazing restaurants – some were fancy, but most were not – and we loved them all. The region's culinary culture is unique and although you can go to good restaurants and drink good wine elsewhere, you can't visit Barolo vineyards in any other part of the world. You also can't enjoy plin pasta, tajarin, carne cruda, bagna cauda and other local dishes in the same way anywhere else -- believe me, I've tried!
Our first recommendation is not so much a restaurant, but a wine shop, as it is helpful to gain an understanding of these wines before choosing from a wine list at a local trattoria or osteria. It’s certainly not necessary, but we find that it adds to the pleasure of the experience to understand a little bit about these local wines. The vineyards used to produce Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG wines (the highest regulatory level) in Piedmont were given UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014. This is one of the most important wine regions in Italy, and these are some of our very favorite wines, anywhere. Knowing a bit more about them before pairing them with your meals makes dining in this area even more of a pleasure.
Barolo - La Vite Turchese
This wine shop in Barolo provides a truly individual experience for each guest. Of course you can go to wine shops elsewhere – but Stefano and Elisabetta, the passionate owners of La Vite Turchese, do not simply serve up a glass of something from the region. They actually listen to what you think you like, discuss what you imagine you want to drink, and then bring wines to your table, along with maps and a knowledge of the region that is unsurpassed. Get ready to learn about the characteristic wines of the area! We have tasted a lot of wine all over the world and this place, with Stefano and Elisabetta at the helm, is like no other shop we've ever visited. You leave La Vite Turchese knowing more about the region, its wine, its history, its future and what you like. Oh, and we find that La Vite Turchese offers excellent value and a reasonable price, especially in its selection of Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
OK, now let’s talk about some of our favorite restaurants in the area. There are so many that it’s hard to compile a comprehensive list, so we’ll concentrate on just a few that we appreciate most for both the experience and for the food. In general, the cuisine in Piedmont, Italy is rich and delicious and unique. Local producers are focused on making food that is traditional, fresh and often organic. We have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the options. The following is a small selection of some of our very favorites, listed by the tiny village where they are located. Please be sure to let us know what you think!
Barolo – La Cantinetta
On our first night in Barolo, Italy in 2014, we had dinner at La Cantinetta. We first read about it in a book called Barolo and we really wanted to dine there, but failed to make a reservation on our first visit. We tried to get in but they were very busy. Our wonderful B&B host, Daniela, of La Giolitta,(our very favorite place to stay in the area!) gave them a call and we were able to get a table. We dined al fresco and loved it so much that we vowed to return the next time we were in Barolo.
That opportunity came up when we returned in 2016. That time we asked owners Maurilio and Paolo Chiappetto to simply bring us food. We didn’t even look at the menu – we just asked them to bring us what they love the most. What followed was a feast of 6-7 antipasti typical to the region including insalata russia and carne cruda - ground beef of the highest quality, seasoned only with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. The literal translation is “raw meat” and it is delicious. Our agnolotti del plin (tiny little ravioli) and house made pasta with gorgonzola were spectacular. When the secondi came, we barely had room, but we managed to enjoy our spectacular meat course as well. We had sparkling wine to start, a Nebbiolo Langhe wine with dinner and grappa for dessert. When it came time to pay the bill in this Barolo restaurant, the owner thought about what we ate and rather than adding everything up, he said we owed him €100. What a marvelous, traditional meal in a place that exemplifies tradition, quality, hospitality and value. We love La Cantinetta.
La Morra – Il Bovio
Il Bovio is a beautiful place, owned by one of the oldest families of restauranteurs in Piedmont. It is set among the vineyards of Barolo and the view from their terrace is absolutely spectacular. The food matches the view and to enjoy lunch or dinner at Il Bovio is more of an experience than a meal. The evening we dined here, there were 2 local families enjoying dinner together at large tables in the dining room. One of these appeared to be a family of wine makers and it was apparent that they knew the owners very well. Not just anyone can bring in their own wine to the restaurant, but they did. Perhaps they directly supply a portion of the wine list and because of their relationship with the owner they can enjoy their own product in this incredible setting. Our entire meal was delicious but what we remember most is the cheese we enjoyed for dessert. They wheeled an enormous cheese cart over to our table. It was overflowing with so many Piemontese cheeses that we were nearly overwhelmed. Our server helped us make some great choices, with nice variety, and that meal stands out as a favorite even now, 6 years later. Prices are higher here, but we find it to be worth it for the experience.
Treiso – La Ciau del Tornavento
La Ciau del Tournavento is the only restaurant on our brief list with a Michelin star. It is set in the heart of the Langhe and has an over the top stunning view, a spectacular wine cellar and an incredibly creative menu featuring local ingredients. They have both a tasting menu and an a la carte menu. I’m not quite sure where I first heard about this restaurant but it was written up in a magazine and I remember tearing out the article with the idea that we would hopefully get to dine there one day. I also found a video online where they show the dining room and how it opens up to the view of the vineyards in front of you, with the Alps beyond. We dined at la Ciau del Tournavento in 2017 when we visited with friends and family. It was a spectacular meal, punctuated by amazing wine choices after conversations with the sommelier. There were 6 of us dining that evening and we all enjoyed tasting menus. Each couple got one of each tasting menu. - a “Traditional” and a “Daily Market,” and shared with each other so that we could all try as many dishes as possible. A meal here is a special occasion and it is priced accordingly – and in our opinion, it’s worth it.
Serralunga - Schiavenza
Schiavenza is a terrific wine maker in Serralunga and they have a wonderful restaurant with – guess what……a fabulous panoramic view! We have enjoyed lunch here several times, usually after a wine tasting elsewhere. Our favorite order is one of their simple yet elegant pastas, accompanied by a fresh salad and a bottle of Schiavenza. The menu has lots more to offer but for our lunches there, we found this to be perfect. As mentioned, the view is amazing, and to enjoy lunch on this terrace is to soak in the sights and flavors of Piedmont. It is reasonably priced, making it a great value.
Serralunga – Osteria Tre Case
We met friends at Osteria Tre Case for dinner on Easter, after having enjoyed a massive Easter lunch earlier that afternoon. We weren’t hungry, but we still had a great time. Now we want to return with empty stomachs! With our limited appetite, we enjoyed salad and grilled octopus. We also had gnocchi drenched in a beautiful cream sauce. Our wine was a 2013 Tiziano Grasso Briccolina – a lovely single vineyard Barolo which cost €55. It was a spectacular and quite rare wine (there are very few bottles of the 2013 vintage available anywhere) and was priced reasonably, especially for a restaurant wine list. What an amazing experience!!
Dogliani – Cascina Manzo
We picked grapes on an organic winery near Dogliani for two seasons and went to Cascina Manzo with our hosts multiple time. It is a fantastic local restaurant located in the countryside just outside of town. It has a wonderful full menu, but we go there for the pizza! We have very high standards for pizza (see our Naples Pizza Crawl blog). and this place never disappoints! There are more kinds of combinations of pizza here than you can imagine and every single one is amazing. My favorite has an entire ball of rich, oozy, flavorful burrata cheese placed right in the center. When you cut into the pizza, the creamy cheese flows all over the remainder of your slice. This spot is frequented by locals and is very inexpensive, especially given the quality of food and the level of hospitality you receive. We highly recommend it when you want to dine with the people who really live in Dogliani.
Monchiero – Tra Arte e Querce
We found Tra Arte e Querce through friends who went truffle hunting with the owner. If you visit the area during truffle season, this is a fabulous activity and one that you can’t do just anywhere, anytime. Our dinner in this modest family run establishment in the tiny town of Monchiero was fantastic. We met Ezio and Clelia, the owners. Their son speaks English and served us dinner. Ezio is the truffle hunter and he is absolutely wonderful. We had very typical Piemontese dishes - carne cruda and insalata for antipasta, agnolotti stuffed with spinach and tararin with tomato meat sauce for our primi course. Then we enjoyed tender braised pork and carrots that we shared for an entrée. It was all very delicious. We had a Freisa wine which was interesting. I’m glad we got it but next time we’ll have a Barbera or a Nebbiolo. It was a great meal; the setting is wonderful and the people are great. We loved it! Ezio sat down and had grappa with us at the end of the meal. Very reasonably priced.
There are countless amazing restaurants in this part of the world, so this list is really just the tip of the iceberg. The Barolo region is unique -- the tight knit hills of the Piedmont region are close together and the patchwork quilt of vineyards creates a unique and alluring landscape that makes hiking, biking and riding a Vespa through these hills a truly special experience. Five hill towns - all historic villages - compose the Barolo region: Barolo, Montforte d'Alba, Serralunga, Castiglione Faletto and La Morra. Each is unique and exciting to explore. Many of these tiny hill towns have medieval castles that are just waiting to be visited. Piedmont means "foot of the mountains" and on a clear day you can see that the region is aptly named. You can drink wine anywhere, but drinking a Barolo red wine while looking at the Alps in the distance and the vineyards where the grapes that are in your glass were grown makes a visit here a distinctive experience.
If you find the lists of restaurants in the Barolo region a bit overwhelming, why not let us help you make some great choices based on your particular tastes and interests? This is one of our very favorite parts of Italy and we would love to help you get the most out of your visit here. Check out our trip planning services and let us help you find the best restaurants. Or, let’s plan a small group trip for you and your friends and family. Then you can start making a list of your own favorites in Piedmont!
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