I love it when a restaurant surpasses my (American) expectations and last week Bovio did just that. My good friend Jennifer was staying the weekend with me in Barolo and as a thank you she suggested I book a nice restaurant for Sunday lunch. Always happy to oblige, I selected Bovio which I saw as a new entry in my 2010 Alice Food Guide. I recognized the name as the winery of the family that has run “Il Belvedere” in La Morra, a favourite of mine, especially after the redecoration a few years back.
The guide informed me that the family had left the premise of Il Belvedere and was now in their own building that was nestled among the vineyards in La Morra, less 10min by car from TorreBarolo.
Lucky for us, the 7th of February was a stunning clear and sunny day as this building offers one of THE BEST VIEWS I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying while dining. My photos don’t do the view justice nor do I think their website. Just trust me on this one.
One of my bugaboos about the selection of restaurants in the Langhe is that there are few elegant restaurants where one might go to celebrate an event and where it is as much about the setting and service as it is the food. Bovio ticked all the boxes for me.
Firstly, the building is perched on the side of the hill and given this was a custom-designed building they made the most of these stupendous views by installing windows that are vast, low as well as being architecturally appealing. We were lucky and got the best table in the dining room which was in the center of the room and directly in front of the window. Most of the tables offer great views, par one that seated two, was next to a wall and one of the diners had a view of a palm tree and wall.
There are two rooms to the restaurant and we peaked into the other one on our way out. There are no views in this room though it is has funkier vibe given the choice of wall paper. I spied a few baby highchairs at tables in this room and deduced that is where families are seated so as to not disturb the other diners.
Aside from the amazing views, the room is a comfortable size (i.e., not too big or too small), the tables are well spaced out and the table are beautifully laid out. And as a plus, when we arrived all the tables already had a varied selection of freshly baked mini-rolls and focaccia accompanied by some of the best butter I have had in years … yep, better than Beppino Occelli !
There was a tasting menu as one would expect in this calibre of restaurant (€44), though we opted for al carte. Although not on the menu, I requested an Antipasti Misti (which they graciously obliged) which included Vitello Tonnato, a Millefoglie of Peppers with Tuna and Capers from Pantelleria and a Tort/Quiche in a creamy cheese sauce. For primo, I selected the Risotto al Barolo with Bra Sausage (little twist on the classic they have done at Il Belvedere) and Jennifer had her favourite, Tagliolini with Veal Ragu. Both pastas were light, delicious and we could have eaten more easily. For secondo, I opted that we split their Small Fritto Misto (Fried Mix), as I was curious as this isn’t something you often see on menus. It consisted of small pieces of meat, poultry and vegetables in semolina breadcrumbs that were lightly fried. Too full for dessert, we opted for coffee and that was accompanied by petite fours that were more than enough to cap off the meal with something sweet.
The menu offers an extensive offering of starters, first and seconds so I have no doubt each diner would find something that tempts their taste buds. The room was full that Sunday but the service remained consistently excellent.
Jennifer was charged for 1 glass of wine (though she was served two) and the bill came to €80. Now, I know it is not hard in the Langhe to eat excellent pasta and yummy antipasti for €40 each, but I believe the premium was well worth it given the combination of a stupendous view, excellent service and very high quality food. Personally, I can’t wait to find an event that needs celebrating and go back to Bovio to enjoy a lunch that makes you say out loud … “life is good!!!”.
Bon Appetite and be sure to book in advance.