Located in the Langhe and nestled between the wine zones of Barolo, Barbaresco, and the Roero, Alba is a popular tourist destination for wine and food lovers. Its population swells to several times its size in the fall, when the grape harvest is underway and the White Truffle Fair attracts thousands of international travelers. The town boasts many excellent eateries, and here we highlight some of Alba's best spots to sample the local food and, of course, enjoy the wine.
1. Voglia di Vino
Voglia di Vino is Alba’s newest wine bar catering to locals and tourists with its extensive wine selection. The list features 45 by-the-glass wines primarily from around the Langhe and Roero, as well as bollicini from areas like Champagne, Alta Langa, and Franciacorta. The wine shop itself is stocked with about 110 different bottles from 45 producers spanning all of Italy, parts of France, and more - even Israel! Patrons can sip a glass accompanied by a traditional aperitivo spread of cheeses, meat, focaccia, grissini, hazelnuts, and (with the reds) a spoonful of cugnà, a traditional Piemontese fruit compote. The cheese board varies by glass, and you often hear the charming husband and wife team explain, “I brought you this because it goes best with the wine you selected.” They also offer a light menu of panini and traditional antipasti like carne cruda. If you are interested in trying some older vintages, take advantage of their Coravin. This tool keeps the cork in the bottle, but allows for a glass to be poured without opening it. The fun gadget lets wine lovers explore varied vintages and producers without breaking the bank - or the bottle seal! Glasses of wine start at €4, cheese-salumi plate included.
Via Elvio Pertinace, 7A, Alba
Tel. +39 0173 593 090
2. Osteria dell'Oca
Located in the large Piazza Osvaldo Cagnasso (better known as “del Mercato” for the open air market), this charming restaurant has a vintage, hand-crafted vibe to its interior decorations and an appealing, hand-written menu featuring Piemontese classics and wines from the region. For a traditional lunch, try the gnocchi al Castelmagno, a creamy dish made with the savory, spicy, slightly nutty cheese of Grana Valley origins; or the Battuta all’Albese, if you love carne cruda (raw beef). Closer to truffle season in October, when the weather is brisk and the leaves are changing, stay true to the fall spirit and order the risotto alla zucca, a heavenly pumpkin risotto. As for the wine, order a simple, half-liter carafe from the barrels behind the bar, or choose from among a list of classics: Dolcetto, Arneis, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Barolo, and more. You can order by the glass, or, if you’re truly on vacation, the entire bottle. Menu €6-€18.
Piazza Senatore Osvaldo Cagnasso – 12051 Alba (CN)
Tel. +39 0173 362 768
3. Ugo Gastronomia
When the menu is placed in front of you at the table, are you invariably indecisive? Ugo Gastronomia is the best restaurant to sample a little bit of everything. Upon entering, you’re greeted by a long, glass counter displaying a large variety of antipasti, side dishes, and second courses of meat. It’s the ideal chance to waver between options, as you can mix and match whichever foods you like. The items range from fresh goats’ cheese with truffle oil, tasty frittata, and marinated vegetables to second courses like braised beef, veal cutlet, and rabbit. Fill a plate for €10 to €15 euro and order more if you’re dying to try everything. Or, order a plate of pasta like tajarin or agnolotti from the menu with varying toppings and sauces, as well as more substantial second courses. For a complete meal, there’s nothing better than to accompany it with a glass of local wine.
Via Vittorio Alfieri, 4 – 12051 Alba (CN)
+39 (0) 173441454
4. Gastronomia Corino
Everyone from Alba knows where to go for fresh, handmade pasta, and that place is Gastronomia Corino. In Corino’s old location, hungry pasta lovers waited in endless lines to buy their meal, and often the lasagna or ravioli “del plin” (a classic Piemontese style) would be gone by the time your turn came. Corino opened a new shop just a few months ago. Spacious, airy, and modern, its high quality hasn’t changed, and now you can sit down to taste the pasta, as well. During lunchtime from noon to 2:30, diners may order first and second courses and finish with a dessert made on the spot. The fresh pasta comes in many shapes and sizes: lasagne, tajarin, gnocchi, ravioli, ravioli “del plin”, cannelloni and tortellini are served with delightfully simple toppings (cheese, pesto, ragù, or butter and sage) to better exalt the already rich flavor of their pasta. Average cost per person is €10; plate of fresh pasta €5.
Piazza Pertinace Elvio - 12051 Alba (CN)
tel: 0173 440272
5. La Bottega del Vicoletto
La Bottega del Vicoletto is a wine bar, artisan food shop, and ideal lunch spot – it’s a hidden gem of Alba just waiting to be discovered by in-the-know tourists. Located in the center of Alba and tucked away along one of the smaller streets, it is not easy to find, but this elegant and tasty spot is now yours to pocket away! Choose a take away dish (all of the highest quality) or stop and taste any number of traditional Piemontese plates. The food is delicious, well presented, made only with seasonal and fresh ingredients. Its wine list accompanies it perfectly, and boasts some very fine labels. The selection of cheeses and salumi is truly incredible. We suggest you try the ravioli “del plin” and their excellent second courses of meat. Complete meal from €18-€20. Single plate €15.
Via Bertero, 6 – Alba (CN)
Tel. +39 0173 363196
Article written by Diana Zahuranec, Gabriele Pieroni, and Valerie Quintanillia