Ristorante Bovio, La Morra 2
January 24, 2012
We enjoy exploring new countries, new cuisines and new restaurants, but we also have some traditional habits. One of them is going to the Piemonte every other year during the white truffle season. And so Linda and I returned to Ristorante Bovio, with Tony, on October 7, 2011.
We had some concerns as September had been consistently hot and dry, after a wet, cool July and August. The truffles might be scarce, although we had seen some for sale during our midday stop in Alba. Ristorante Bovio was almost full when we arrived a little before 8:00, as it had been two years before. This was quite surprising as we were, at 8:00, the first to arrive at restaurants the two previous nights in the Piemonte. As usual in the truffle season, there were many Swiss and German clients, but I think that most of the diners were Italian. We were warmly welcomed and seated at a table in the larger, front room.
We were offered a sparkling wine of the region as a nice, appropriate apéritif. An appetizer of a deep-fried zucchini blossom was served.
We looked at the menus out of curiosity, but the whole point of our being there was the Menu al tartufo bianco di Alba. Despite the higher priced truffles due to the September heat and dryness, the menu, at 180€, was only 10€ higher than two years before. This may seem like a high price, but at other restaurants in the region there is a supplement for white truffles of 30 or 40€ for just one dish; (or $100 in New York.) At Ristorante Bovio this menu includes generous servings of top quality, fresh white truffles on each of six dishes. There was no shortage due to the dryness here. Some of the dishes were similar to those we had enjoyed before, others were new to us.
We ordered bottles of the same wine we had the last two times, Bovio “Vigna Arborina” Barolo. We started with the 1997, which was smooth and elegant and then the 1999, from a very highly rated year, which was strong and luscious. The wine list is enormous, with listings of many exceptional Barolos, but it seems right to me to order the wine of the house.
The first course was
La battuta di fassone piemontese con tartufo bianco
Driving on the autostrada south of Torino, one can see the sturdy white Fassone cattle in the pastures. It is a breed raised only in the Piemonte. The meat is known for being lean, tender and flavorful, making it perfect for a pure chopped beef tartare. This one was served with frisée and freshly shaved white truffles.
Uovo in pasta alla Bergese con tartufo bianco
This dish was invented by Nino Bergese, chef to Italian royalty and aristocracy. An egg on a bed of chopped spinach and ricotta is enclosed in a large raviolo and lightly poached. Parmesan and the white truffles are shaved over it.
Funghi porcini al rosmarino e aglio con fonduta e tartufo bianco
Porcini mushrooms, sautéed with rosemary and garlic, are placed on a bed of warm fonduta, a blend of milk, butter, egg yolk and fontina cheese from the Val d’Aosta, just north of the Piemonte. For this course the truffles were not just carried over, but arrived on a cart in their bowl covered with a glass bell. They were shaved for us by Alessandra Bovio, who has taken over direction of the dining room from her father. The chef is now her husband, Marco, who has succeeded her aunt. She explained to us that they have several farmers in the region who gather truffles for them in the woods.
Tagliolini ai trenta rossi con tartufo bianco
This pasta dough is prepared with thirty egg yolks for each kilogram of flour. It is cut very thin, cooked quickly and dressed simply with good butter. Lovely.
Filetto di vitello con tartufo bianco
The slice of filet of veal loin was topped with a thin layer of cheese and set on a bed of polenta. It was served with a small plate of hot deep-fried porcini mushrooms.
For the last course, the same chestnut flan was offered as the last time, but we also had a choice, which we took, of
Selexione di robiole con tartufo bianco
Pieces of fresh, local creamy cheeses were served with the white truffles.
We were offered sorbets to finish. I selected peach.
Fortunately we did not have far to drive. We stayed this time at the modern Hotel Santa Maria, in the hamlet of Santa Maria just down the hill from La Morra. This is the view from the balcony of the hotel near our room back up to La Morra. Ristorante Bovio is the white building at the far right below the town amidst the Nebbiolo vineyards of the Bovio family.
Our meal was just what we had been hoping for. The cuisine is traditional, uncomplicated and prepared to show off the flavor of the fresh white truffles in season. This is an experience which is not duplicated elsewhere, one which we plan to continue to enjoy every two years. The welcome, ambience and service are just right. Bravissimo.
The restaurant’s website:
To see our meal two years ago at Ristorante Bovio click here.
The website of the Hotel Santa Maria: