Walking through the historic center of Alba you will be struck by the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the restaurants in the town. Soon you come to the “Aldente Trattoria Italiana.” Immediately you notice the restaurant has been furnished with great care, recalling the authentic rustic appeal of the Langhe hills. In the air is the unmistakable aroma of homemade dishes. You pause to savor the ambiance of the trattoria. When the tour group entered, we were greeted by Samantha, Beppe and Emiliano and we began our great culinary adventure.
The wine list is filled with local Barolo and Barbaresco red wines and the menu features seasonal specialties ranging from fish from nearby lakes to the prized white truffle dishes of the fall. Since a substantial portion of this year’s Publisher’s Tour was focused on the unique tastes of the Piedmont, the timing couldn’t be better. Local product sourcing was evident with dishes such as prawns with hazelnut crust and gnocchi with Taleggio cheese with spinach cream.
For the pasta, everyone tried the Tajarin, the Piemontese specialty of finely cut egg pasta, simply dressed in olive oil. Tajarin is made with finely milled flour and egg yolks (about 10 yolks per pound of flour) giving it a golden color, luxurious taste and incredible texture. The crowning glory of black or white truffles were added by the waiter, who weighed the pale nugget before shaving slices onto our pasta; such is the value (and price) of truffles! Seeing that our waiter took note of the findings, it could best be described as a solemn ritual. Every bite was heavenly.
Truffles in the less expensive black variety, or the supremely sublime white were available. Publisher Buddy Fortunato even had the kitchen whip up eggs with white truffles. Any dish containing the precious shavings instantly became the star of the show.
The wines we enjoyed were from the Nebbiolo grape; one Barolo and another Barbaresco, predictably each were a great match for the food.
Another unique feature of the area is the Fassone breed of cattle, found only in the Piedmont. In addition to delicious beef, the cows produce a rich milk that is used to make local cheeses. One of the specialties of Aldente was Filetto di Fassone con Castelmagno e nocciole; shredded beef with Castelmagno cheese (made from Fassone cows’ milk) and hazelnuts, served over Tajarin pasta in a red sauce. The textures and flavors were indescribable; so much so, that our group insisted on returning to the restaurant for a second dinner before departing Alba.
Buddy Fortunato enjoyed a delightful dish of eggs topped with black truffles – so simple, yet so delicious!
After dinner, Publisher Buddy Fortunato, left, thanked staff members Beppe Ienco and Samantha Digani and the owner of Aldente, Emiliano Pitzalis, far right, for an amazing dinner and perfect service.