Dining Review: La Piola – Alba, Italy
Dinner was at La Piola, the sister restaurant of the three Michelin Star Piazza Duomo. While my birthday time (and non-birthday time) is filled with tasting menus, I opted against this several hundred dollar meal at Piazza Duomo. My intent was to be eating pasta that was averaging 10 euro (minus white truffles) so I did not feel the need to indulge. Fresh pasta is all I need! La Piola was right by our Airbnb so it was a nice change to eat in our neck of the woods- Borgo San Lorenzo.
We loved the interior here! Felt like the inside of many farm-to-table places back home (though ironic since Piedmont has done farm-to-table literally… forever… not a new concept and no need to over charge!).
Clean aesthetics and fancy decorative plates that reminded us of many places in Paris. The servers were casual and made guests feel relaxed all while serving up gourmet, incredible food.
Oh and I think I missed my favorite part- a giant cheese cart at the door. My Bourdain dreams of a cheese cart being wheeled over and picking the right off the cart (may) come true (not quite, but as close as I have gotten so far!). We had so, so, so much cheese today but the cheese cart was here only tonight so we had to make room.
It was time to check another wine off the list- Barbaresco! When we come back to Piedmont next, we will do a wine tour completed focused on Barbaresco as Kevin enjoys it just as much (if not marginally more) than Barolo. Asking for a recommendation got us the 2015 Peiro Busso Barbaresco to enjoy. The best feature of these Nebbiolo wines is there enhanced flavor with food due to the high tannins- the first few sips can range from subtle to puckering but when the food comes, magic!
We started in poor European style with a cheese plate (a dessert option- but hey we do dessert first all the time!)- Cheese plate Carrello del Formaggi: Affinatore Franco Parola (Assorted cheese by Franco Parola from Florence). With varying options for the number of cheeses, we opted for three with the stipulation they were the three smelliest, funkiest cheeses they had. The server understood and we were so excited to try whatever was in that cheese cart. So while it wasn’t rolled over in a luxurious fashion, I was happy we got a bit of control in the selection.
The cheese plate arrived with one cow, one sheep, and one goat which was surprising to me that there would be representation from all the cheese producers. The first was the goat cheese- Roccaverano DOP Al Origano Selvatico Astigiano. The second was the sheep cheese – Robiola di Pecora Frabosana Valle Pesio. Sadly, the cow cheese tag fell over and while I am not sure the fancy name, I can tell you it was blue cheese (technical terminology!)
While I could have done without the oregano on the outside, the goat cheese was so creamy and had a richness to it. The sheep cheese was a bit harder in texture but had a slow building funk to it. The cow blue cheese was smooth in texture and clear-out-your-sinuses pungent. We loved them all!
Pasta time and I had a feeling the tajarin here was extra good so I dove in for the Tajarin al tartufo bianco (fresh homemade “tajarin” with white truffles) and was I right. I know I said it was good before- and they were- but this was the best. The noodles came out literally in a pool of butter just waiting to be tossed.
Then the truffle shaving but this was one of the best truffles we had on the trip.
This entire dish was heavenly. I could have had this dish every meal and would be completely content. I do not know what they did differently to create a different experience from one I had multiple times but kudos to the La Piola kitchen- fantastico!
Kevin order the Agnolotti del plin al sugo d’arrosto (fresh homemade “ravioli” with roasted veal sauce) and this was no exception to my experience.
He raved at the delicious gravy wrapped around the agnolotti and the meat that was stuffed inside. It was definitely his favorite stuffed pasta dish of the trip and that he has to date.
And the grand finale, dessert. I looked and saw the Bunet al cioccolato again, in english as chocolate pudding. It was daring me to try it again. It read “chocolate pudding” and I like chocolate pudding so I took the dare. I ordered the Bunet al cioccolato (“bonet” chocolate pudding) and I struck out again!
This must be what the Piedmont interpretation of chocolate pudding is and Laliberia must have had it wrong. Disappointing dessert and it was on me this time. I just wanted chocolate goodness! Everything else one the dessert menu looked amazing so I am mad at myself for not paying closer attention to the dishes leaving the kitchen.
Kevin, once again, got an incredible dessert by ordering Torta di nocciole “Relanghe” con zabaione freddo al Moscato d’Asti (Hazelnut cake with cold “zabaione” with Moscato d’Asti wine) which was a dish we had at Asti’s festival. While it was snack sized at the festival, it was made into a gourmet dessert here.
The hazelnut cake was moist and flavorful while the “zabaione” was refreshing and sweet like a pudding (what a joke) consistency. Thankfully, Kevin let me share his cause it was an amazing dessert.
We loved La Piola and if it was open on Sundays and Mondays, we may have tried to sneak in again. Happy to have had the opportunity to dine here.