Some other practical aspects of eating just to prepare you. Piedmont is the antipasta-region, nearly all the restaurants have an antipasta buffet or number of dishes. Usually you can express your preference for meat, fish or vegetarian. This is a good idea anyways, because most of the restaurants do not have a menu. If they serving a number of antipasta dishes and you do not like one of these you can just explain it and they will skip you for that dish.
Italians start with the antipasta, then the pasta – the dishes are summed up at your table – then the secondi – the actual main dish– en then the dolci, the dessert. All together that can become quite a huge meal. If it’s becoming too much just let the waiter know. Even the Italians skip dishes and for example only take an antipasta and a pasta (with or without a dolci?), although this is easier accepted from a lady. The restaurants personnel are usually quite flexible in the choices, so just let them know what you prefer. By the way the Piedmontese love fish, not so peculiar as fresh fish is provided form the coast and it only has to travel some120 kilometers form the Mediterranean Sea.
When it’s the truffle season, most restaurants have truffle dishes or special truffle menu’s. You can also order truffle with certain dishes. The charge a truffle-surcharge (for white truffle) of between € 20 en € 25 per dish per person. (Please also see the tab: Shops & Market.)
For vegetarians Italy always is a great country for food, but Piedmont tops that. For the antipasta they usually already have a number of vegetarian dishes. For the secondi (main dishes) they quite often offer cheese or if it’s the season the delicious fried funghi porcini (forest mushrooms). Or otherwise they will prepare you a dish, in contrast to for example France the chef’s here do not panic when confronted with a vegetarian. With Italian pride they consider it a honor to prepare you a dish that lets you leave their restaurant as a happy customer. Piedmont also has the dishes of North Italy so besides the great choice in pizza’s and pasta’s, je can enjoy (fried) polenta (corn flour(porridge)) with gorgonzola and gnocchi (cooked potato dumplings).
The Piemontese are not breakfast enthusiasts, usually they go to a bar (actually more of a coffee shop) and order a coffee with a brioche (a sweet roll). Did you see all the hazelnut orchards? They all go into the Nutella hazelnut spread that’s used as a filling made at the huge plant in Alba. Usually you can help yourself to a sweet roll, just like the rest of the customers. In the countryside you do not have to worry about sitting down with your coffee and brioche and paying a huge surcharge like in the big cities. The coffee costs fractionally more, not like Florence where you get a € 10 surcharge for a cup of coffee.
First the pizzeria’s. Most North-Italian pizzeria’s have a thin crust. In South-Italy they more accustomed to thicker crust. Now and again you might get them here too when the cook is a Southerner. That possibility is bigger than it may seem as in the 20th century thousands of Calabrians en Sicilians moved to this region on account of the FIAT factories in Turin. Naturally all pizzeria’s have a wood fired oven. They use a lot of hazelnut wood (light and fires quickly). Our Italian neighbors even suggest that in the pizza you can taste the kind of wood they used in the oven…
In the vicinity you can find the following pizzeria’s:
At breakfast time the bar serves a nice range of brioches (croissants). You just order a coffee and pick the brioche you like. On the glass is written what kind of filling the brioches have.
Foglia d’oro - Madonnina
Closed mondays & tuesdays
Via Madonnina 35
Serralunga di Crea
Tel: 0142 940170 Mobile: 00 39 331 5335599
At minutes driving distance from Casa Anna at Madonnina on the Strada Madonnina you´ll find the pizzeria Foglia d’oro. The same gastronomic friends assured us that this is the best pizzeria in the whole area. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Drive down the hill to the main Casale-Moncalvo road, turn left in the direction of Casale. After a couple of miles the main road goes up over a bridge and there is an exit on the right hand side, signposted “Serralunga di Crea”. Take that exit and continue under the main road for a couple of miles until you see an exit to the left (again signposted Serralunga di Crea). Turn left there and cross the railroad tracks - don´t stop at the first pizzeria on your left – continue along the road for about a mile and you´ll see the restaurant at the left side of the road. After the pizzeria there´s a little side road that takes you to a parking area behind the restaurant.
As mentioned above, you can also enjoy meat and fish dishes at the restaurant San Giovanni beside the bar at Moncalvo stazione. There are also many ‘regular’ restaurants. At most restaurants you can enjoy a three course dinner, including wine, for between € 30 to € 50. On the countryside dinner times are not as late as in the city, usually the restaurants start to fill up from 8 ‘o clock PM.
In the evening the restaurants are not always that busy, many restaurants earn most of their living serving hot lunches. I’m sure you didn’t think the Italian road workers eat a boxed lunch at the side of the road?! If you don´t mind having a hot lunch usually the restaurants have a fixed “all in” menu (menu fisso, watch the signs at the road) for about € 11 to € 13.
“La Ca d’Amis”
A good example – according to our (Italian!) contractor – is the agriturismo “La Ca d’Amis” on the main Casale-Moncalvo road. An agriturismo is a farm plus another business activity, such as a restaurant, shop or hotel. This agriturismo is a farm with a restaurant that only serves hot lunches for € 12. They use products from their farm and our contractor told us they serve a good meal there. Drive down the hill to the main Casale-Moncalvo road and turn left in the direction of Casale. After a couple of miles you’ll see a big pink country house on your left hand side with a large parking space in front of it (and a sign outside). That’s “La Ca d’Amis”.
Ponzano – Boccadoro
At a few minutes walking distance from Casa Anna you’ll find this restaurant with excellent Piedmontese home cooking with a three course meal for about € 35, all included.
Outside Casa Anna turn left and walk up to the end of the road, then turn right walk up the road a bit and turn left at the next road on your left hand side. Follow this road and after a couple of hundred metres you’ll see the restaurant’s signboard. Besides the fact that you can walk there an added bonus is the walk back home, it’s all downhill!