June 7, 2016
Besides wines, the Langhe is also a renown gourmet destination. The headquarter of the Slow Food movement is based in Bra, and Alba’s annual White Truffle Festival attracts foodies across the globe. The dining scene quiets down outside of the truffle season, but quality food can still be found throughout the region’s many villages. Traditional Piedmontese cuisine is a hearty fare that involves a lot of pork, veal, wild games, pasta, cheese and various kinds of fungi, although the cooking has been evolving to adapt to modern palates, just like the local wines.
I had received several recommendations which specialized in preparing the local fare, one of which was La Coccinella, located in the tiny village of Serravalle Langhe, 15 km east of Monforte d’Alba. Run by the three brothers Alessandro, Massimo and Tiziano, this trattoria seats about forty and commands a splendid view of the Alps to the north.
At 20:00, we were the first table to arrive. Alessandro greeted us warmly and led us to our table, serviced by his twin brother Massimo. The two brothers looked strikingly dissimilar. We didn’t have the chance to meet Tiziano the chef.
Menus would change periodically. On this day there were two menus — classic and fish — and a few daily options. Stating our preferences, Massimo recommended several classic fares, beginning with a shared plate of local cold cuts. The dining room soon filled up after we placed our order.
Highly recommended by Massimo, all of us followed the cold cuts with the lobster bisque, a decidedly foreign dish which the staff was very proud of. A well-done dish, reaching the expected richness while maintaining the freshness of the lobster.
My first course was Gnocchi with Castelmagno, Hazelnut Butter and Thyme. This was my favorite dish of the night — the gnocchi was chewy, and both the cheese and hazelnut were representative ingredients of Piedmont.
My wife and I shared our main dishes. Mine was Rolata of Lamb Stuffed with Onions and Bacons. The meat’s texture was firm but not overcooked, and the slightly sweet sauce gave the dish a lighter dimension.
My wife ordered the Veal Topped with Tomato Sauce. The meat was slightly overcooked and the over-salted sauce overwhelmed all the other flavors.
Too full to order dessert, we were treated a few small pastries. With two glasses of wine, the bill came to €165 for four.
The service was warm and attentive. The hosts were gracious and keen to share information on the local dining scene, including Umberto Bombana’s visit to this very restaurant last October. The cooking, with the pasta dishes being the exception, was heavily influenced by the French. A decent yet somewhat familiar meal, although to be fair we did bypass a few local specialties on the menu.
Address: Via Provinciale, 5 Serravalle Langhe, Italy
Opening hours: Lunch: Thu – Mon, 12:30 – 14:00; Dinner: Wed – Mon, 20:00 – 21:30