Restaurant Le Due Lanterne in Nizza Monferrato is included in the Michelin guide with a “bib gourmand” and it is also listed by Osterie d’Italia. We opted for the 45 euro tasting menu, which includes 4 antipasti, 2 primi, 2 secondi, and 2 dolci (served in 5 courses). That is a bargain for sampling many classic Piemontese dishes.
Although there is no fixed wine pairing, the sommelier created one for us on the spot, with wines of between 4 and 6 euros per glass. All of them from the wine region around us, obviously.
We started with a 2017 metodo classico (sparkling wine made in the same way as champagne) from 100% pinot nero. Although it said brut on the label, it was not very dry.
The greeting from the kitchen was a small spinach omelette.
The cold antipasti were: vitello tonnato, roasted red bell pepper stuffed with tuna, and tartare with slivers of parmigiano and seasonal vegetables.
The next wine was a Gavi from the same winery as the metodo classico.
The warm antipasto was a ‘flan’ of zucchini with tomatoes and basil. This sounds like a very simple dish, but it was very good thanks to the quality of the tomatoes and zucchini. Also, the tomato was skinned and seeded, and slightly warmed (not cooked), which enhanced the flavor. It worked very nicely with the Gavi.
Next was a Barbera d’Asti made in stainless steel, which generally means it is a lighter style Barbera. This one had quite a bit of body anyway.
The two primi were served together: spinach gnocchetti with a sausage ragù, and agnolotti with the jus of braising the meat that was used to stuff the agnolotti. Agnolotti often have some kind of greens in them like cabbage, but these were stuffed with meat only. I really liked the spinach gnocchetti with the ragù.
The next wine was also a Barbera, but aged in oak and more powerful.
The two secondi were also served together: guinea fowl with porcini mushrooms, cream, and marsala, and “stracotto”, beef stewed in Nizza (the local wine made from Barbera). Both were very flavorful, but could have benefitted from a sous vide preparation.
The dessert wine was a sweet muscat.
The two desserts were a chocolate bunet and something creamy with hazelnut.
Le Due Laterne offers outstanding value for money and a great introduction to Piemontese cuisine with very classic dishes and good wines. The service is very friendly and the meal was paced just right.