The Piedmont region is one of Italy’s top culinary capitals and home to plenty of year-round options for indulging in extraordinary wine and cuisine.
Insider Tip: The region’s full-bodied, richly tannic Barolo—one of Italy’s most celebrated varieties and among the first to earn the nation’s DOCG denomination in 1980—is undoubtedly the star of the show. The wine, crafted from Nebbiolo grapes and aged for at least 4 years, pairs beautifully with full-flavored specialties of the region like truffle fondue, meat-filled agnolotti, and raw fassone beef. Look for a deep garnet color with ruby reflections and an orange-tinged edge from a well-aged bottle.
In Alba, Piazza Duomo is one of the most creative kitchens in Italy. Owned by the Ceretto winery, the cantina is stocked with a massive selection of local bottles to pair with chef Enrico Crippa’s inventive plates. The haute-cuisine restaurant has a more modestly priced sibling, Al Piola, where traditional Piedmontese recipes are served with another impressive wine list.
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Just outside of Alba, Osteria More e Macine, in La Morra, offers simple but superb local cuisine at reasonable prices, with excellent Barolos and Barberas served on their stunning outdoor terrace. The more upscale Ristorante da Cesare in Albaretto della Torre is legendary for the high-flying kitchen alchemy of chef Cesare Giaccone. The restaurant also houses a country-style wine and food shop.
Under the porticoes of Piazza Savona in Alba, a pair of restaurants present one of the best initiations into the city’s well-heeled local life and the elegant wines of the region. Subterranean Enoclub offers exquisite traditional dining crafted to complement the hundreds of labels in its 25-year-old wine cellar. Upstairs, Osteria dell’Arco serves more contemporary dishes in a coolly modern dining room, drawing wines from the same well-stocked cantina.
A great place to start exploring the expansive selection is with a Barolo Cannubi from Luigi Einaudi. One of the area’s most revered wineries, the label was founded in 1897, and its earthy, spicy wines with powerful tannins and notes of rose and violet are the definition of a great Barolo. Another revelation in a bottle, the Barolo Roggeri from Ciabot Berton gracefully shows off the dark fruits and licorice notes of a good bottle, and the potent but pleasing Serre Barolo from Gianni Gagliardo flaunts the beautifully plummy smoothness these wines can acquire with age.
As in the rest of Italy, the organic and sometimes biodynamic styles have been rapidly gaining momentum. Don’t miss Carlo Viglione’s Barolo, the biodynamic Carrubbi Barolo from Ceretto, and from Valfaccenda, an excellent floral version of one of the great white wines of the area—Roero Arneis.
Insider Tip: Pick a favorite and take a short ride to visit the vineyard in person.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Alba in the fall, you’ll have to fight the weekend throngs in the heart of the old town, but the reward is a festival dedicated to the world’s most illustrious truffle, the area’s native (and premium-priced) white variety of Tuber Magnatum Pico.
At the festival’s main market, stands dish out specialties from all over the surrounding hills of Piedmont—hazelnuts, aged Gorgonzola and Robiola cheeses, gianduia-filled chocolates, all kinds of truffle butters, salts, and oils, and in covered display cases, the truffles themselves, fresh from the woods. You can also taste some of the region’s famed wines at this delicious celebration.
PLAN YOUR TRIP with Fodor’s Alba Guide