Dining in Italy: Piazza Duomo*** (2021)

Piazza Duomo is the restaurant with 3 Michelin stars of chef Enrico Crippa in the town of Alba in Piemonte. We haven’t visited this area for a while, and therefore our last visit was in 2014. This was our 4th time at the restaurant. During the lockdown there was a lot of time to experiment, which the chef and his team used to develop a “Barolo menu”. Their research into the history of Barolo and the food in the Langhe region showed that already in the 1800s menus were developed at the Savoy court with dishes paired with Barolo. The idea of the Barolo menu is not to recreate dishes of those times, but the menu has been inspired by dishes from that age. The menu consists of 6 courses paired with 6 different Baroli, plus appetizers, cheese, and dessert, for 500 euros (Barolo included) per person.

The aperitif was not a champagne or other type of sparkling wine, but a cocktail with Barolo Chinato.

The cocktail was served with a piece of ‘lemon rind’ that accentuated the flavors.

The appetizers included this cracker of parmigiano…

…as well as this collection of appetizers that is inspired by ‘old fashioned’ appetizers. It includes lettuce with the sauce of vitello tonnato (the most well balanced tonnato sauce I have ever tasted), tramezzini, Russian salad, a deep fried ravioli stuffed with ricotta, and an ‘eclair’. All wonderfully crispy (one of the chef’s specialities) and paired well with the Barolo chinato cocktail.

The first course of the menu was a salad wrapped in a leave of ‘lettuce’, reminiscent of leftovers from Sunday that were wrapped in a leaf of salad and taken to work in the field on Monday for lunch.

The salad included walnuts, hazelnuts, ox tongue, apple, and salsa verde (parsley sauce), and paired surprisingly well with a 2008 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapò from Ceretto. This wine was served ‘blind’, because nobody would expect a 2008 Barolo to be the first one or to be paired with a salad. The Barolo was very elegant. 10/10

Next was a dish with Fassone beef carpaccio, black summer truffle, and hazelnut. The meat was very tender the combination of textures of the soft meat with the creamy sauce, crunchy nuts and salad was wonderful.

This was served with veal stock and bread with hazelnuts on top. It was paired well with a 2016 Barolo Monprivato from Sordo. This Barolo was more powerful than the previous one, and still very young.

The second serving of veal stock was enriched with some of the same Barolo. This changed the flavor completely. This dish was called “l’Albese” because Fassona beef, truffle, and hazelnuts are all very local ingredients. 10/10

Next was a dish of snails with polenta and herbs. The inspiration for this dish was that when snails were farmed, they were fed with herbs and corn. Although the idea was nice, snails remain snails and do not have so much flavor (that is why in France they are usually served with tons of garlic and parsley). So this was nice, but not as good as the other dishes. It was paired well with a 2015 Barolo Cannubi from Francesco Rinaldi. 8/10

Next was a risotto with Rooibos and pancetta. Barolo can sometimes have aromas of Rooibos, and that was the case for the 2013 Barolo Bussia Dardi le Rose from Poderi Colla that this was paired with. Another very good pairing, especially when a bit of risotto included some pancetta (so a bit more pancetta would have been nice). 9/10

The next dish was mushrooms in a creamy mushroom sauce with truffle…

…and mushroom broth on the side. The mushroom broth was enriched with vanilla oil, to improve the pairing with a 2013 Barolo Arborina from Mauro Veglio. This is the first ‘modern style’ Barolo of the menu, aged in oak barriques (40% new). The dish had a wonderful mushroom flavor and the pairing was again excellent. 10/10

Next was strip steak of Podolica beef, a breed of cattle from the South of Italy, served with a small round zucchini. The beef was slightly tough (and could have benefited from long sous vide cooking) and quite lean, which could be fixed by slicing up the piece of fat that was attached to the meat and taking a bit of that with each bite. This was paired very well (not surprisingly) with the final Barolo, a 2008 Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda from Poderi Oddero. 9/10

The cheese was Malghesino blue cheese served between two crackers with roasted pumpkin seeds. This was served with a small amount of grappa and the advice to drink the grappa together with the bite. The grappa really made the flavors ‘pop’.

The dessert consisted of two courses. The first was various preparations of strawberry.

The second was biscotti Cavour…

…that were to be dipped in this zabaione (which had perfect consistency).

When we left, chef Crippa came out of the kitchen to greet us, which was nice because we had not met him before.

This menu and the wines were simply spectacular. It is amazing what a various array of dished could all be paired so well with Barolo, and to taste all these different Baroli. The services was flawless. I would rate the whole experience as 10/10.

Compared to our previous visits to Piazza Duomo, I think the wine pairings have very much improved. The assistant sommelier (a very nice lady) told us that they had spent a lot of time tasting the dishes with wines to find the best combinations, which is something that I doubt had been done for the wine pairings of our visit in 2014. I already look forward to our next visit to Piazza Duomo, and hope they will pay as much attention to the wine pairing for the regular degustation menu.

If the restaurant is already full for the date you’d like to go, you could try to get a table through AppointmentTrader.

8 thoughts on “Dining in Italy: Piazza Duomo*** (2021)

  1. In the first course, salad wrapped in a leave of ‘lettuce’, what was the ‘lettuce’ made of?

    I have to add this place to my list for the next time we travel to Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Stefan – you well know I’ll be scrolling this critique up-and down more than once ! What a fantastic evening . . . and, for what is provided well worth the high tab !! And I just love the elegant quiet simplicity of the surrounds . . . the shape and colour of the plates and napkin’s. Love the appetizers and how they were served and would have liked to taste the lettuce parcel. Loved how the blue cheese was presented and this risotto is calling out loudly . . . Am so glad this was a real ‘experience; for you two . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Took half my lunchtime to ‘shop’ for Barolo wines at Dan Murphy’s country-wide chain – ie one would not expect to find what you have locally experienced. actually quite a wide range available . . . the top dozen or so at about $A65 – 130 a bottle . . . a number of labels . . . who buys: restaurants ?

      Like

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