Returning to Cuneo, Val Gesso and the Langhe after a long absence

After being away too long, we are returning to Cuneo, Val Gesso, and the Langhe next month. We’d like to have at least a few great restaurant meals and take in a festival if possible. What are people here recommending?

It’s time to re-connect!

We are in Piemonte now staying in Diano d’Alba for two weeks. Just had an absolutely amazing dinner at Agnulot in Verduno last night. Highly recommend. It’s tiny so reservations way in advance are very important. Last night inside where you can watch chef Mirella work there were 3 tables for two and 2 tables for 4 set up. There were also a few tables outside in the nice weather.

You won’t be disappointed if you can get a table.


We try to visit the Langhe at least once each year and have kept adding to our list of favorites – Agnulot is on the agenda for our next trip in October. Meanwhile, in order of preference, here are our current favorites:

Trattoria la Coccinella in Serravalle Langhe
Osteria Veglio in Annunziata, just north of the village of La Morra
Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d’Alba
I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro
Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso
Il Centro in Priocca
Guido in Serralunga d’Alba

If you narrow your list, I would be happy to offer more details.

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You will adore Agnulot. Very special.

We were just at Osteria Veglio on Saturday night, and as always, it was fun and delicious. A beautiful evening.

We’ve been in Piemonte now for more than two weeks and have another week to go. We leave Diano d’Alba on Wednesday and stay in Vignale Monferrato and will do a day trip to Parma which we havent visited ever. Hadn’t been in Langhe since 2018 and missed it so.

We find we need time between these great meals for simple meals at home with simple salad and pasta in butter with sage picked from the garden where we are staying. Or something just fun and traditional and good like our dinner at Gemma’s. And we did have a fabulously fun lunch today in Cherasco at Pane e Vino. Great host/owner, wonderful wine suggestions for our antipasti and primi. His chef wife creates a very interesting menu. And as I love snails, visiting Cherasco is a treat. Everything was inventive and delicious.

We also found that Vercelli is just 40 minutes from where we will be in Vignale so we booked a lunch at Christian e Manuel after seeing it on Stanley Tucci’s show. Eager to try their risotto. PH - have you ever been?

We also love Pane & Vino. When we visited last Fall, we discovered that they had a 2017 Cavalotto Barolo on their list for 80 Euros less than the same bottle we had ordered the night before at Il Centro (a restaurant that we love, but which has become slightly too big for its shoes lately). Agree that the food at Pane & Vino bats above its “class.” Have not been to Vignale. Need to look for that Stanley Tucci show. Look forward to trying Agnulot in October. We will book way ahead.

When we were at Agnulot on a Thursday they took away the stools facing the kitchen and replaced it with a two top. In addition there were two tables of four and just the 3 tables for two. And chef Mirella said she doesn’t get deliveries since she goes to market in morning and buys what she needs for the tables she knows she has. She makes everything herself even the grissini. So unless someone cancels, she can’t take walk ins. She has such passion for what she does. And Sebastian who just started in February really is wonderful at pairing wines at incredibly good prices. There’s nothing pretentious about any of it. No encouragement to upsell wines, particularly if a Barolo isn’t the right choice for your meal. I’ll be curious what you think.

Today at Pane e Vino, Flavio decided that for my husband’s primi of Tajarin he should have a more tannic Nebbiolo and for my very rich sort of carbonara like linguine with asparagus, a more acidic Barbera was needed. But he also poured us each a glass of eachother’s at no charge so we could see and taste the difference. And he was right! For our antipasti, he steered us to glasses of Nascetta which worked wonderfully with my snails and husband’s squash blossom and flan. I’m not such a wine expert that I love leaving myself in the hands of someone we can trust.

And enjoy your October trip!

Not sure what dates you are heading to the region, but if in July, and if you like jazz - Monforte d’Alba Jazz Festival is wonderful. The town is beautiful and the concerts are in AUDITORIUM HORSZOWSKI, which is a lovely outdoor amphitheater venue.

Thank you everybody for this great advice! I’ll post a trip report if I come across something different and/or new.

Post a trip report, regardless! Always helpful to have impressions from all, including pictures.

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With pictures? You’re a tough taskmaster! We (my wife and I) are going to Entracque in Val Gesso - where her late parents lived for many years. This is about a 30 minute drive from Langhe where she has a cousin.

Hopefully, we’ll get a restaurant meal or two in during our stay, which one depends on how passionately I can persuade the cousin and her husband to go. I’ll use the list that is posted here as my main talking point.

It’s not as dismal as I’ve made it sound. Entracque is a wonderful (and cheap!) place and I’ll have a kitchen there. As for the cousin, she loves Ristorante Nazionale in Vernante so there is hope.

We are counting on you.

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We just returned from a wonderful lunch at Bovio in La Morra. Of course the gorgeous setting and wonderful service doesn’t hurt. Even with the heat, there was a fabulous breeze on the terrace.

My husband had the Menu Degustazione with Antipasti of veal/tuna sauce, asparagus flan and carne crude with parmigiano and black truffle while I started with duck fois gras terrine with figs and red onion jam and ginger. Primi was Ravioli del plin ai tre arrosti nel loro ristretto for husband and I had Lasagnetta gratin with asparagus and basil pesto. We shared his braised beef in Barolo wine sauce and dessert we added to his cheese plate, a delicious strawberry aspic with Moscato with a white chocolate dome and mojito sorbet. As strawberries and asparagus are in season now - we are really enjoying eating dishes that celebrate them. A simple Bovio Nebbiolo worked with everything we ate and our 3 hour lunch couldn’t have been more lovely.


Okay. First week. I’m here in Entracque alone and without a car. There are no restaurants with wine pairings, but a great outdoor sports scene. What do I do for excitement here? Well, I broke a washing machine and flooded the apartment for starters - that’s kept me busy!

While it isn’t alta cucina, there’s a sports center with sandwiches and salads on weekends. I had a salad with local trout and maybe a few too many cocktails. Actually, this place is great after a walk, a bike ride, or a dip in the terrific indoor pool.

There is now a restaurant in the Entracque town square with a full menu including primi and secondi in the 8 to 9 Euro range. At breakfast, the same place has okay mini-doughnuts - not the highlight of Piemontese cuisine. Because I know every English speaker here, I kind of have to be out here at breakfast to say hello. It’s that kind of town.

During the next few days, I hope to head up to the rifugi - several of which are said to serve serious, Piemontese mountain cuisine. I’ll report if I actually make it.

At home in Pennsylvania, I’m four thousand miles from Langhe and it feels close by. In Entracque, I’m less than forty miles away and it feels like it’s at the other end of the Earth.


That’s not far from Cuneo which is a very lovely city to visit if you want a change from outdoor activities. It’s Main Street is lined with pretty arcades and their are interesting shops and cafes along it. Because it was part of the House of Savoy, it has a very French feel to it. There are also large parks for biking and walking, and if you are interested in architecture there are some beautiful churches and piazzas to visit. We had a very nice and inexpensive lunch at Pizzeria Vesuvio filled with locals and a lovely outdoor seating area.

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Thanks for the suggestion!

I have really fond memories of Cuneo from years - or maybe decades - ago. It will be interesting to see if any favorites are still open. Right now, I could spend hours browsing in the wine shops alone.

There are busses there from here and I could certainly use a visit to a bookstore and hardware store too. If no appliance or internet installers are coming, I’ll grab the bus down and see how it goes.

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Cuneo was pretty great!

There are now several book shops - all of which feature a food book by Stanley Tucci translated into Italian. Was this a step above the Jamie Oliver volumes you used to see? I wasn’t so sure. I did find some good language study materials though.

Afterwards, I went to my old favorite bar; Bar Piazza in the center of town. I thought I’d have an Aperitivo there and wound up lunching on a great grilled vegetable plate. I highly recommend this place for bar food lovers. Between meals, it’s a great place to linger between trains or busses too.

Restaurants and bars aren’t the food highlight of Cuneo, specialty shops are. I went into several good bakeries and sampled whole grain breads and foccacie - every stop was excellent. I really wanted some freshly roasted coffee but the one roaster I passed was closed.

On the way back to the bus stop, I was stunned to see some seriously authentic Chinese food. Indeed, there was one restaurant with a serious dumpling and bubble tea menu. If you’re in Italy for a short time, don’t bother, but if you’re staying in the mountains and coming down into town, dumplings in soup could be a real treat.

I checked out a fair number of “serious” restaurant menus and thought it would be better to drive into the countryside instead. Cuneo might be a great place to shop, but I suggest that you reserve your eating for the countryside.


After days of sandwiches and quick, home made dishes, I finally had a real, Piemontese meal that I’d recommend to anybody. It was at Rifugio Esterate; a restaurant and inn high above the valley a few miles south of Entracque.

No longer alone - and actually in a party of seven - we sat down at a long shaded table right outside the main dining room and bar. Our group ordered the antipasto and polenta meal.

The antipasto platter included squash cakes, insalata russa, vitello tonato, thin slices of salami, and a salad of walnuts and celery served in a separate bowl. Most folks drank from a pitcher of chilled white house wine, but I went for a local microbrew; an Anima Mozart Red Ale. I thought that the ale did a better job of complimenting the rich dishes than the wine, but not everybody at this very Italian spot was convinced.

The main event was a bowl of polenta made in a very traditional way with a mixture of corn and buckwheat. This is certainly something I’ll try when I’m back in Pennsylvania. The combination of grains made it the color of French mustard and a nuttiness that was gratifying.

To go with the polenta, there were big bowls of toppings; sausages in tomato sauce, wild boar braised in red wine, and a yellow-ish cheese sauce. All were deep, soulful, and satisfying.

Afterwards, I was too stupefied to have anything but coffee. But I did take time to check out our surroundings; we were high in the mountains, at least 900 feet above Entracque - itself considered to be the high point of the valley - with stupendous views.

This was la dolce vita, Piemonte style. High mountains, clean air, great trails for hiking and mountain biking and this wonderful inn and restaurant.

Many of our fellow diners had either backpacked or bicycled in. Those people who were fit enough to do this certainly deserved our respect. Hungry Onion isn’t a backpacking site, but it should be noted that the Rifugio is a stopping point in the GTA trail; an important Italian long distance hiking route.

When it was time to settle the bill, I was stunned to see that they charged only 22 Euro a person including the beer, wine, and bottled sparkling water. We wound up paying cash and got an extra bottle of water as a bonus.

If it’s a hot summer day in Langhe, this is where you should come! It’s a good ten degrees cooler than in places like Dogliani and Barolo and the setting will soothe and delight you. Note that if you come by car and are used to typical American roads, the trip up will terrify you. Our old car spent most of the trip in very low gears - that soothing setting might do nothing more than calm you down after the drive.


Fun report, thanks!

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Thank you! They’re might be more. I have a road trip coming up tomorrow and guests on Saturday.