Alba | Piazza Duomo
Eating out in the Langhe is never going to be an ordinary experience, not least because not one but several of Italy’s hallowed, signature wines are produced on its rolling hills. Alba is the unofficial capital of the region, and Enrico Crippa’s Piazza Duomo its official number 1 restaurant. By the time Enrico Crippa met the Ceretto family – three generations of winemaking and a passion for all things Piedmontese – he’d worked under several of Europe’s most illustrious chefs and opened Gualtiero Marchesi’s restaurant in Kobe. A spell in a Japanese kitchen often seems to add that je-ne-sais-quoi to professional gastronomic flair in the rest of the world, and this case is no exception. The Cerettos were looking for a chef, and Enrico Crippa wanted his own restaurant: Piazza Duomo was born.
Three Michelin stars and a cult following later, Crippa and his team are still coming up with new and surprising food combinations, masterpieces of taste and presentation based on excellent raw materials, his international experience and a rich local heritage. Outstanding Piedmontese meats and cheeses feature large, and the restaurant has its own vegetable garden.
What is striking is that, unlike so many contemporary eateries, there’s no concept imposing on the cuisine – save for the obvious one of superb ingredients. Rather, it’s those ingredients that impose on the menu: fresh as can be, sometimes barely cooked, absolutely essential, sensational. Served in series, kaiseki-style. More young professionals maintain standards in the front of the house: Manuel Miliccia is in charge of an elegant if rather pink dining room with an original fresco, while Vincenzo Donatiello is the resident sommelier. All this doesn’t come cheap, of course. Expect to spend €180, give or take a few. Two BTWs: Piazza Duomo now has rooms too, same class and price league; and the spectacular vineyard landscape in Piedmont is yet another of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.