La Piola (Alba) / by shane eaton

La Piola is the new spin-off restaurant of the world-famous three Michelin star Piazza Duomo. Both restaurants are run by the Ceretto sindicate, also known for their pleasant Blangè white wine and fine Barolos and Barbarescos. If you have the chance, they have a very cool winery tour in San Cassiano. Instead of making a poor man's Piazza Duomo, chef Encrico Crippa wanted La Piola to focus on more traditional Piedmontese dishes, of course made with the highest quality local ingredients.

La Piola is located in Piazza Risorgimento in Alba, a town best known for truffles. As it was August (truffle season is the fall), there were sadly no truffles to be had on our trip. We started our meal at La Piola with an excellent plate of six cheeses. They have a nice cheese cart at La Piola from which you can customize your personal cheese experience. I requested "smelly and strong" cheeses and I wasn't let down. I enjoyed a nice glass of Ceretto Nebbiolo while my girlfriend went with the lighter but refreshing white Blangè.

For our main dishes, we ordered the tajarin pasta (a fresh egg noodle from piedmont that is similar to chinese chow mein) with a sausage-based ragù. On top, they sprinkled a generous amount of parmigiano. The dish was incredible and perhaps the best tajarin of the trip but it would have been nice the portion were slightly larger (and my stomach were slightly smaller). My girlfriend got an assortment of antipasti as her main dish (beef tartar, russian salad, roasted veal with tuna mayonnaise). She was thrilled with the beef tartar, which was made from the finest "Fassona" veal from Piedmont.

We ended our meal with a piece of good but non-memorable hazelnut cake and a nice aged grappa. Overall, my experience at La Piola was very positive and I can highly recommend it to anyone visiting the charming city of Alba.