Eating out in Piedmont is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Local cuisine is sophisticated, French-influenced, and always freshly prepared. The 'slow food' movement, the Old World's answer to the fast food revolution, was founded in Piedmont - in Bra – in 1986. Piedmont also invented Ravioli.
Food-lovers from Milan and Turin flock south every weekend to visit their favourite restaurants. Printed menus are rare. Usually the proprietor tells you what’s available - or is happy to choose for you when you can't decide.
A typical meal starts with at least four different antipasti but there can be as many as ten or more. Each is served individually and the dishes are eaten one by one. First are the cold dishes, followed by hot ones. Then the second course arrives - either different home-made pastas or risotti. (Piedmont is the biggest rice-producer in Europe). Next comes the main course, followed by excellent local cheeses and wonderful hazelnut cakes, always served with a Moscato zabaione, and many other delicious puddings.
Throughout the region you will find marvellous cooking based on local traditions.In Acqui Terme, among dozens of restaurants, we suggest you take a look at the following:
I Caffi (must book, expensive but memorable, [email protected] 0144 32 52 06).
La Loggia (wonderful setting).
La Schiavia, fairly posh.
La Pirada, 14 Via G. Bella, serves excellent beef steak in the Argentinian style, on extremely hot volcanic stone (30 euros for two). Delicious, especially accompanied by a bottle of "I Tre Vescovi" (15.00 euros).
Arsenico E Vecchi Merletti is incredibly popular, so booking needed. They have a weekly 4 or 5 course set menu at ridiculous price of 18 Euros including water and wine. And the food is very local and authentic.
(There's a copy of the Slow Food guide in Casa degli Orsi which lists plenty of recommended restaurants.There are also several recipe books so you can cook your own Italian cuisine.)
There are many excellent restaurants in the hill villages, for example the restaurant Bel Soggiorno in nearby Cremolino (Tel 0143 879012). On the main road in Cremolino, behind an unpretentious facade, there’s an excellent and popular restaurant “Bar Ristorante Vetta.” T - 0143879035 (Closed Wednesday. Only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday.)
In Acqui there are dozens of bars and ice cream parlours. One of the best is the Gelateria Visconti in Piazza Conziliazione where the ice cream is out of this world, and the cocktails equally magnificent. Well worth a visit – their Negroni is the best ever!
Photos: Top two: The grappas and wines on display in Ristorante Vetta
Bottom two: The prosciutto crudo is from Parma and Grissini were invented in Turin