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JulieVikmanis Sep 22nd, 2009 01:16 PM

What time to book dinner in Piemonte?
We usually dine early. Don't mind being the only ones in the dining room as we enter. Actually it makes it easier to phtograph the restaurant without disturbing anyone. We would prefer, however, to have a few other diners at least share the restaurant with us by the time we conclude our meal. This proved difficult for us to manage with the late dining habits of the Spanish. What can we expect with the Piemontese? If we reserve at 8 p.m. will we have some company by the time we leave--or are they even earlier than we, such that we could reserve at 7:30 or even 7 and still not be the first to arrive?

I'm about to start e-mailing for reservations, so your advice asap would be greatly appreciated.

tower Sep 22nd, 2009 01:45 PM

Julie...thanks for asking the queston...we usually follow the same regimen. IME I find that the Spanish customarily eat much later than the Italians or the French. The early dining "private dining room" aspect is kind of fun..but you're so right...nice to have a few others's almost but not quite like "early bird" dining in USA. One need only to check on the right side of the menu to realize that. You and Val, have fun..and scout out a few for us...we'll be two weeks behind. We'll want to know about the SlowTravel location in Bra.


LoveItaly Sep 22nd, 2009 02:16 PM

Hello Julie, although it was some time ago when we were in Piedmont where we had friends we usually went to the restaurants around 8:00p.m. The restaurants started filling up a bit after we arrived. Perhaps you could ask the various restaurants your question when you email them for your reservations. I do remember a couple of restaurants that had beautiful outside patios and we probably arrived at those places around 7:30p.m. or even a bit earlier as we enjoyed wine on the patios before going inside the restaurants for dinner. I would imagine the earliest a restaurant would open would be 7:00p.m. but not absolutely sure. You will have wonderful wines and food!

I wish I had the information on the restaurants we so enjoyed, Stu, but sadly I tossed everything some time ago when I was in one of my cleaning out moods.

drbb Sep 22nd, 2009 02:33 PM

Hi Julie -

Roberta at Villa La Favorita made our dinner reservations for us. I requested 8:00 but she suggested 8:30. I'm sure her thought was that we would not want to be the only ones there.

Did you have a final list of "must eats?" I'd be happy to send you mine.


tower Sep 22nd, 2009 02:59 PM

Hi again..we'll be there two weeks after you..I'd love to see your list..I don't have one just yet, but Roberta suggested La Libera in Alba, especially for lunch, and EK's suggestions are already in my folder. We're also leaning toward Trattoria Antica Torre in Baresco ..their pics of <i>"tajarin"</i> jump rght off the page....and EK's suggestion of Profumo di Vino sounds great. Have a great trip...(please send what you have already compiled. Thanks)

For the "must eats" according to the Gospel of EK, this is her well-worn thread:

stu t. [email protected]

aprillilacs Sep 22nd, 2009 03:18 PM

When we were in Asti in early June we arrived at restaurants between 7:30 and 8:00. We didn't make reservations, so we liked arriving on the early side because that meant we were often able to get even a coveted outside table. We were soon joined by other diners, and the restaurants were always hopping by the time we left (and made room for more diners!).

We especially enjoyed Osteria della Barbera Tacabanda in Asti.

Have fun!

JulieVikmanis Sep 22nd, 2009 03:38 PM

Thanks for the offer drbb. I have the thread from July when you were comparing notes with Sampaguita and among others you were intending to book Ciau, della Posta, La Libera, Duomo, Antine, and Osterie del Arco--from among those I've been looking at. (Since we're staying at Marcarini, I want to keep our dinner selections fairly close to that Neviglie/Treiso area.) Is that old list close to what you finally actually booked? I'd love to check out your final list.

I'm in contact with the folks at Marcarini and between my own internet booking and theirs, I hope to have everything taken care of before we leave on the 29th.

From what you say--and what Aprillilacs says--it looks like I should try to book 8/8:30 and show up about 7:30 if we leave any open nights. Thanks.

drbb, we will be in Piemonte at Marcarini 5 days arriving Oct. 4 and departing Oct. 10. I think we totally overlap your time there at Villa Favorita. I know that you're probably more tightly scheduled than we since you've lined up some cooking classes, etc. We have a general idea of places/activities that will likely fill days, but are intending to sort of hang loose about which days we do specific groups of towns, etc. until we get there. That means I'm free to jimmy the schedule around fairly easily. Perhaps we could arrange to meet for a wine tasting somewhere. Would that work for you? Feel free to e-mail me at valdisvikmanis at, if you'd like to arrange a very mini-get together.

Agriturismo_Verdita Sep 22nd, 2009 11:23 PM

Usually around 8 is perfect, but in pizzeria's you can go a bit earlier.
In Acqui Terme there's even a restaurant that opens until 9 and the earlier you come the happier they look :-)

Maybe it's difficult to do a trip when you arrive the 4th, but that day there's the "Palio degli asini" in Alba. It starts around 3.

JulieVikmanis Sep 23rd, 2009 03:59 AM

Verdita, thanks so much. We'll be coming from Lake Como and it's a fairly long drive, but we will definitely try to make the festivities.

zeppole Sep 23rd, 2009 05:09 AM

Julie, you need to understand that it's not just about the customary dining hour. It's about when the kitchen opens. If you show up at 7:30, you might end up simply sitting there with no food in front of you until the kitchen is ready to cook -- unless you stick to ordering cold and simple antipasti and are prepared to wait a long time for your next course.

I've not been to where you are headed in Piemonte, but in Torino, apertivi (cocktails) are served with lots and lots of nibbles (stuzzachini) at the bars, and diners are usually not hungry until at least an hour after.

I don't know if you just get too hungry for dinner after eight, or if you turn in early and therefore prefer to eat earlier rather than go to bed on heavy Piemontese food (I don't blame you!) But next time I go to Piemonte, I'm going to arrange my life around big lunches and stuzzichini dinners plus a dessert, rather than opt for restaurant dinners.

Have a great trip, and don't forget to taste hazelnuts and as many things made with them as you can find.

JulieVikmanis Sep 23rd, 2009 06:27 AM

Zeppole, I do understand that all too well. Having often reserved in Spain for the opening time, we found ourselves cooling our heels awaiting the cook--whether to get to the restaurant at all, or, as you say, getting ready to cook.

This is the first I've heard of the stuzzachini (sort of like tapas?) business in Piemonte. We'll be alert to it. I think, however, we'll have to continue to have our big meal in the evening or risk cutting our sightseeing to mornings only.

Agriturismo_Verdita Sep 23rd, 2009 06:36 AM

You'll find the stuzzichini everywhere in Piemonte, not only in the city. Don't be afraid to ask for it, or look at the tables of the people drinking an aperitivo (or on the counter). You can say it's like a sort of tapas.

zeppole Sep 23rd, 2009 07:22 AM

stuzzichini (sorry for my previous misspelling)

drbb Sep 23rd, 2009 11:10 AM

Wow! The stuzzichini look fantastic.

Stu, here's my list and I certainly will report on these when I get back, maybe in time for your trip.

La Libera, via Elvio Pertinace 24/a, Alba
Osteria del Vignaiolo, frazione Santa Maria, La Morra
La Piola (in Piazza Duomo), Piazza Risorgimento 4, Alba
Profumo di Vino, Viale Rimembranza 1, on main piazza, Treiso
Osteria dell’Arco, piazza Savona 5, Alba
Tra Arte e Querce, Monchiero Alta (after truffle hunt with Ezio Costa)
Osteria Dei Sognatori, Via Macrino 8, Alba
Trattoria della Posta, Localita Santa Anna 87, Monforte d’Alba
La Bottega Del Vicoletto, Via Bertero 6, Alba
Rabaya, via Rabaya 9, Barbaresco
San Marco, Via Alba, 136, Canelli
Antinè, Via Torino 34/a, Barbaresco
Cascina Cornale, corso Guglielmo Marconi 64, Magliano Alfieri
La Ciau del Tornavento, Piazza Baracco 7, Treiso

Another one that I wish I could have squeezed in was Bovio which is the new restaurant of the former owners of La Belvedere in La Morra (the Bovio family). Heard good things. On the Saturday (Oct. 3) of the Truffle Festival and the Sunday (Oct. 4) of the Palio, we're planning on just eating from the foods for sale at the food/wine exhibition stalls. Supposedly there's all manner of salumes, cheeses, wines, pastas with and without truffles, desserts, etc. We have one lunch at Tra Arte e Querce in Monchiero Alto which is owned by the Costas. We'll be going on a truffle hunt with Ezio Costa in the morning. And we'll be cooking our own dinner one night during our lesson with Rita who will be teaching us the fine art of agnolotti dal plin.

Julie, let me look at my schedule and see what might be available. My schedule ended up being a little more structured than I had originally thought because we wanted to visit certain wineries, and I had to make appointments for that. We have visits at Luciano Sandrone, Elio Grasso, Marcarini, Pio Cesare and Coppo. And unfortunately we'll be at Marcarini on Oct. 2 before you arrive.

Quite a few vintners said they could not handle any visits at all because they anticipated harvesting. Last that I talked to Roberta (two weeks ago), Moscato grapes were being picked and that would be followed by Dolcetto, Barbera and then Nebbiolo. I'm hoping we get to see some of that.

Julie, where are you going in Como? That's where we wnt last year (stayed in Bellagio). You will love it.

tower Sep 23rd, 2009 12:12 PM

drbb...thank you for the list..three of my destinations are on it (we'll only be in Piemonte for three nights, so unless we can find room for 4 meals a day..!!)...any comments on the places listed will be appreciated. We leave on the 18th, will not be in Alba (at the Villa) until Nov.3-6th...
but I'll have internet access at all times.

Happy Travels to the Bayou folks and The Ft. L. pair! On to Piemonte...there's "gastro-work" to be done.

Stu Tower

tower Sep 23rd, 2009 12:15 PM


<i>I'm going to arrange my life around big lunches and stuzzichini dinners plus a dessert, rather than opt for restaurant dinners.</i>

You bet...worth a try.


JulieVikmanis Sep 23rd, 2009 03:15 PM

drbb, your list looks great. Nice to have so many days to be able to fit so many places in.

I've about driven myself nuts looking at reviews and websites but finally bit the bullet and sent off e-mail requests for reservations for the 5 evenings we'll be staying in Piemonte.

My choices overlap with yours on Antine and Osteria del Arco. Other I selected are:
Locanda San Giorgio because it looks nice on the website, has two Michelin fork/spoons and is probably the closest place to our agriturismo after a long drive from Lake Como (where we'll be staying in Varenna at Albergo du Lac for 4 days)
La Luna nel Pozzo in Neive because it has a woman chef and a cute local look on the website--and also two Michelin fork/spoons
and Il Ristorante di Guido da Costigliole at the San Maurizio in Santo Stefano Belbo, because it will be special for our last night in Piemonte, because I love Relais and Chateau properties and because their menu features goat--and they have a nice grandmotherly chef.
Who knows!

Now I've got to get busy and make up my list of places to try to fit in for lunches for which I'm less likely to make reservations in order to be able to keep a looser schedule for my poor driving husband's sanity. The idea with this is to have a list of restaurants available in several towns we might be in or near as hunger strikes for each day's itinerary.

I've done the winetasting appointment thing mixed with lunch reservations (in Bordeaux and Burgundy areas) and while rewarding, it can get hectic. Hats off to you for really planning your time. Coming off a cruise of the Baltics where we pretty much ran around like chickens with our heads cut off to get as much in as possible in the time we had in ports, I'm trying to hang a little looser this trip.

Besides the one day we'll spend getting to Piemonte from Lake Como, of the five we have there we plan to spend one day in Turin, one focused around Alba,Bra, Pollenzo and Cherasco, another around La Morra and Monforte d'Alba, and one in and around Asti. I haven't gotten as definite as to even try to determine which day might be best for which groupings--probably based upon any market day information I can find. So we're quite flexible.

We'll be staying at the Marcarini agriturismo, which is about 6 km east of Alba not in La Morra as their winery is, so we'll actually be fairly close to La Favorita and could meet you in Alba or even at La Favorita if that would work out for you. I do, however, understand the problems of tight schedules so if you can't find a spot remaining on your wine drinking card, we'll just trade experiences by trip report when we return.

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