Piedmont is the land of good food and good wine, of natural beautiful sites like Langhe and Monferrato (which are also part of Unesco) and like the magical Tortonesi Hills. A heritage made of tradition, gastronomy and emotion. Devotion to gastronomy through the years has made this region worth a visit, giving a strong identity to Piedmont’s various areas. Here are three different stories from three restaurants in this region. They have in common the products’ quality, professionality, passion and the fact that there are only women in their kitchens.
The first place is the Ristorante Cacciatori in Cartosio, a little cosy village in the Monferrato region. Opened first in 1818, it once was an Osteria where people would stop to eat and rest while travelling along the road that connected Piedmont and Liguria. Cacciatori has since maintained the incredible values of tradition, good food and warm welcome.
Over the last 200 hundred years, only women have worked in the kitchen, proud and in love with their craft. The last generation is represented by Federica and her husband Massimo.
Massimo is the perfect host, his gentle manners and his humbleness will always make you feel comfortable. He’s a splendid maître and he can describe any recipe in great details. Weather permitting, Massimo serves the Aperitivo Piemontese under the pergola.
Federica’s Secrets and Menu
On the other hand, Federica studied sensorial analysis as a chemist, a reason for her to be a major expert in taste. She cooks traditional Piedmontese dishes and she’s the queen of the kitchen, where you may still find the old woodstove.
Spending a few moments with her while she checks her food is a magical moment, especially while smelling all the flavours coming from the oven.
You won’t find a refined cuisine and elaborate dishes here but few and simple recipes sporting the authentic taste of this terroir and the use of seasonal products
Our choices from the menu: stuffed pepper and zucchini, tagliolini with tomato, garlic and parsley, omelette with local San Pietro herbs, chicken cacciatore.
Federica has a particular devotion to the woodstove, and she makes fresh bread and focaccia every day. It goes without saying, freshness is the secret in any kitchen.
We celebrated together their 200th-anniversary drinking Billcart Salmon, Derthona Sterpi 2012 from Vigneto Massa, and Barbaresco Gaja 2015.
Via Moreno, 30, 15015 Cartosio AL, Italy
+39 0144 40123
Ristorante Il Centro
The second story is about another family restaurant in the Roero region, one that even conquered one Michelin star: Il Centro in Priocca. Back in 1956, Pierin Cordero and his wife took possession of an old Locanda with a billboard room and transformed it into a “temple of gastronomy” for the local people.
Grandmother Lidia was the key figure in the kitchen: tajarin, fritto misto and finanziera (a Marsala-laced stew) are examples of her authentically local cuisine.
Nowadays, Elide’s interpretation of the traditional cuisine has a contemporary style, while flavours and taste stay the same. Moreover, there always is much attention to the quality of the ingredients, and the dishes are really refined.
Our choice from the menu: the Fritto Misto (a variety of fried meats), a thorough ritual, made here with veal interiors.
Ristorante Il Centro
Via Umberto I°, 5, 12040 Priocca CN, Italy
+39 0173 616112
Tortona and Its Secret Restaurant
The third restaurant we selected is situated in Tortona, near the Tortonesi Hills, a less mentioned area of Piemonte which is actually a very nice surprise, and just an hour drive from Milano. You’ll find here one among the most beautiful Italian villages: Volpedo, where famous painter Pelizza da Volpedo was born. Val Curone is also a lovely valley, crowded in November for the White Truffle events, and rich of Slow Food specialities such as like cheese, honey, salami and Piedmontese meat.
This area is also famous for the production of Timorasso, a very special white wine that has astonishing territorial aromas and mineral taste thanks to the clayey soil.
A couple of must-try from the area: the Timorasso from Volpi Winery and La Zerba’s wines (Colli Tortonesi DOC Barbera Superiore and Colli Tortonesi DOC Timorasso – Derthona).
In the centre of Tortona, we finally discovered a secret address: a deconsecrated Church that has become a design restaurant, elegant and contemporary, like the meals that are served inside. The name is Anna Ghisolfi, the same as its owner and creator
Anna is also the Head Chef, creative and precise, passionate about food since she was a child. Fond of travelling, she’s been almost everywhere in the world, from the US to China, Australia, Polynesia, the Caribbean, Peru, Chile, Galapagos, Northern Europe… And due to all this wandering, she’s well aware of the Colli Tortonesi’s gastronomy and wine excellence.
Seasonality, creativity, territorial heritage: these are her cooking elements. She organizes caterings that serve up to 1000 clients and has a team of 10 women working with her. At her restaurant, a big, open-view kitchen is surrounded by a counter, and you can sit there for an aperitivo.
Our choices from the menu: gnocchi with pumpkin and pheasants, gnocchi and sardine, potato ravioli and mushrooms, fillet with green sauce, cod and onion.
Via Giulia, 16, 15057 Tortona AL, Italy
+39 0131 862299