Ristorante Belvedere, La Morra

November 4, 2007

Mae West said: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”  The Menù del tartufo bianco di Alba at the Ristorante Belvedere in La Morra, at the heart of the Piedmont’s wine and truffle country, is truly wonderful and unforgettable.  

October 30, 2007, was our second visit to Belvedere. We had dined there several years ago with Andrea, Tony and two local wine producers they knew. It was very good then, but it was not the truffle season. I had not forgotten Belvedere’s dramatic site on the edge of a park in the heart of La Morra overlooking the valley where Barolo is grown. Nor had I forgotten the large welcoming dining room with its friendly efficient staff. Belvedere has been owned and run by the Bovio family for forty years. During this time they have not only established and maintained the highest standards for their restaurant; they have also built up a respected name in Piedmont wines, particularly Bovio Barolo 

Belvedere’s success does not depend on following any fashion. It is anchored in traditional cooking of the region and the best ingredients from it.  

The dining room was already half full when we arrived at 8:00 on a chilly, rainy evening. We were seated in the middle of the room where we could enjoy watching the quite varied clientele. Almost everyone was having at least one dish with white truffles shaved onto it.  

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We ordered a sparkling aperitif and a bottle of the 1999 Bovio Vigna Arborina Barolo.

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Our first course was a Paté di selvaggina e tartufo bianco. A slice of a pheasant and hare paté topped with very thin slices of white truffle was a gamey conventional starter, appropriate for the season.

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The second course was a Tartare di vitello piemontese con tartufo bianco e parmagiano. Ground raw veal was topped with slices of truffles and parmesan cheese. Some mâche added a touch of freshness. This is a classic combination. The veal is not spiced as one would with a steak tartare, but it provides a juicy and substantial background to the truffles. The parmesan adds a bit of salt and tang.

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The first of the two pasta courses was Uovo in pasta con tartufo bianco, an egg inside a big raviolo. An egg dish is obligatory in any white truffle tasting menu.

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For the second pasta course, Raviolini di fonduta con tartufo bianco, the maître d’hôtel himself brought over his plate of big tartufi and shaved very generous portions. We assume he is part of the Bovio family; the chef is Maria Vittoria Bovio. I imagine that they particularly feature this dish because of the fonduta, the combination of Fontina cheese, eggs and butter, which is considered to be a perfect match with white truffles.

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The meat course was Tagliata di vitello con scaglie di grana, aceto balsamico e tartufo. Slices of veal had a good grating cheese with balsamic vinegar melted over them. They were then topped with the truffles which could meld with the cheese.

There is an impressive cheese trolley, a regional specialty, but we had had quite enough cheese without it.  

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The dessert was a Parfait al miele di acacia e tartufo bianco. A molded mound of egg and cream custard flavored with acacia honey was topped with white truffles with red splotches. This is supposed to mean that they grew under cedar trees rather than the usual oaks. I couldn’t tell if the flavor was different, but they were more decorative for a dessert.

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The mignardises included fresh chocolate truffles, of course.    

The truffles this evening were fresh and top quality. The earthy flavor came through slowly with each dish, but then became pervasive and lingered in the mouth. The aroma of the truffles was still in the back of our noses when we went to bed an hour after we had left the restaurant. The fact that these truffles were just out of the woods nearby must have a real effect on the aroma. It is best to enjoy white truffles at a restaurant with traditional cuisine, not the more adventurous types we usually enjoy and report on in this blog.  White truffles only marry well with a few ingredients: eggs, butter, cream, veal and mild creamy cheeses, such as Fontina, are the best known. These are all dairy country products. (Fontina’s origins are in the Aosta Valley, the small region wedged between the Piedmont and Switzerland.) The truffles did work well with the dessert, but only because there was just enough honey to flavor the creamy base.  

Barolo seems to be the perfect wine to go with truffles. It has a certain earthiness due to the high original tannins, but it is known for depositing these tannins after five to eight years in the bottle and so is not harsh. This is one reason it should always be decanted. 

If you are interested in good food, plan to go to Belvedere some autumn and order the all white truffle menu. At 180 € it is less expensive than the tasting menu at French two or three star restaurants and you will remember it a lot longer. 

We stayed the night at Bricco dei Cogni, a bed and breakfast about a ten minute drive away outside the crossroads of Rivalta.   

www.belvederelamorra.it

www.briccodeicogni.it

Addendum: January 19, 2008 

The Bovio family announced today that at Easter it will be giving up the site after 44 years and moving to a new restaurant in the nearby vineyards.

http://www.ristorantebovio.it/web/

2 Responses to “Ristorante Belvedere, La Morra”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Thanks for this report. The fonduta looks mighty good. It does look like a trip is in order for next year.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    beware of change in management”

    This is an extraordinary property that has recently changed management. The food varied between mediocre and bad. The service was poor, especially given that there were two waiters for six tables. While the view outside is remarkable, the value of the experience is poor. Don’t go!! While at one time this may have been a great dining experience the recent change has not been for the better. Apparently other people have had the same experience when we shared our own with them. This place is still riding on its history but the current level of food and service is no better than low cafeteria cuisine. If you must take in the view then sit outside, order a drink, and eat elsewhere.


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