“For dedicated gastronomes, northern Italy’s promise of Slow Food, long lunches, and bold red wines is too good to pass up.” – Travel & Leisure Magazine
I first heard about Trattoria della Posta in the 2014 movie The Trip to Italy with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan (one of the funniest movies ever – Karel claims that I snorted watching the film and I don’t snort). The film is a hilarious romp of two friends riding through Italy and dining at some amazing restaurants. Their first stop was Trattoria della Posta. After watching them drive up the hill and pull into the parking lot of a beautiful Italian villa and dine on amazing food in a delightful setting, I knew I had to go there – so I booked lunch for our group on a sunny Monday in late November.
Trattoria della Posta’s history began in 1875 when Sabino Massolino – the current owner’s great-grandfather – opened a rest and stabling point for travelers in Monforte d’Alba – a small, charming hilltop village that boasts phenomenal views of the surrounding vineyards, ancient medieval structures, and incredible food. The restaurant has been part of the Massolino family ever since.
In 1985, Gianfranco Massolino joined the team as owner/chef. He is an expert in both Italian and international cuisine, maintaining his local roots whilst achieving a very high level of quality in all of his dishes. In 2000, he opened the current iteration – an elegant country cottage in the hamlet of Sant’ Anna in the very heart of Langhe – and only a few kilometers from Barolo. The villa is simple and perfectly integrated into the surrounding hillside.
It has been restored and furnished in a manner that embraces the charm of Piemonte’s old countryside with a new and elegant statement.
Upon entering the restaurant, the warm and cozy ambiance continued. We felt that we had entered an old Piemontese family home. Gianfranco’s wife Marita gave us a cheerful welcome and graciously took care of us throughout our visit. We enjoyed watching her manage the dining room, work with the staff, take orders, open wine, seat guests, answer the phone, etc. all with a big smile. She was awesome!
After being seated, I soon detected the intoxicating scent of super fresh white Alba truffles and I knew I was in the right place! Marita described the dishes created by her husband and gave her recommendations for a perfect wine. There was no attitude there; it was really like being part of the family.
The menu offered many of the great classical dishes of the Langhe (and Piemonte in general) but with a refined, delicate touch. Gianfranco’s repertoire covered not only traditional recipes that have been handed down for generations but also included a number of international classics each according to what was available for the season. His sensitive use of ingredients – especially porcinis and truffles – was sublime.
Each plate was presented in a simple yet beautiful way. There was nothing overtly modern about the presentation – no foam, no smears, no dots – but lack of pretension is nothing that I will ever complain about.
Trattoria della Posta had an extensive and impressive wine list (not only for the inclusion of the great wines of the area but also other regions of Italy as well as some choice international options). The list included a plethora of Barolos at a price which was pretty much what I had paid at the winery. We selected an impeccable 2011 Paolo Scavino Cannubi Barolo, a full-bodied wine with lots of dark fruit, chewy tannins, and a nice long finish.
With five of us at the table, we had the opportunity to share a wide variety of dishes on the menu. A few favorite choices include:
- “Tajarin al Burro con Tartufi.” This has become one of my favorite dishes in Piemonte. Fresh tajarin pasta made with 30 egg yolks (per kilo of flour!) tossed with butter and topped with a very generous serving of white truffles.
- “Il Tonno di Coniglio con il Profumo delle Erbette del Nostro Orto.” A light and satisfying rabbit salad with fresh herbs and greens from the restaurant’s own garden.
- “Il Filetto di Vitello Piemontese con il Fungi Porcino.” A delicious veal filet with fresh porcini mushrooms.
- “Il Tajarin ai 30 Rossi d’Novo Tagliati al Coltello al Ragu di Carni.” Here is another take on tajarin. This time with a rich rabbit ragu and a sprinkle of Reggiano Parmigiano.
- “La Quaglia Disoddata, Riniena di Carne e Verdura, Cotta al Forno.” Quail stuffed with sausage and vegetables and then pan roasted in the oven.
We were shown the cheese table but (foolishly) declined in favor of something sweet.”
Desserts were no less ambitious. You ask, how can one have a dessert after such a rich and satisfying meal? My answer is how can you not when they are this good?
- “La Cialda di Meringe con Panna e Castagne and Fragole Fresche.” A beautifully plated cream custard in a meringue “shell” with chestnut sauce and fresh berries. Very light and delicious.
- “Il Dolce di Nonna Tilde.” This was apparently Gianfranco’s grandmother’s favorite dessert. It included brunet, coffee ice cream, and some Madernasse pears which had been poached in red wine. Oh yeah, there was also a smattering of fresh berries to top things off. OMG!!
We weren’t finished yet, of course. Along with our espresso, we were presented with a complimentary plate of simple but elegant mignardises – a few little bites just in case we could still walk.
You know, my only regret is that we didn’t order the cheese course. That cheese cart looked really special.