Antica Corona Reale was first awarded a Michelin star in 2003. The first time we ate there a couple of years ago, there were no English menus and barely anyone spoke English. Two years later, they have been awarded a second Michelin star, and there are now English menus with more servers able to converse in English, which we actually found helpful, but a little disappointing in a way. The elegant restaurant located in Cervere, Italy is easy to miss since the signage is very small, but it is well worth seeking out, even with a few U-turns to locate it (tip: look for a small yellow colored sign).
The building itself was first built in the 17th century, and it became the restaurant in 1855 when Alessandro Vivalda purchased it. It has since been handed down through 6 generations of Vivalda sons managing and cooking at Antica Corona Reale. The evening we dined there, we saw both the father and son team, Chefs Renzo and Gian Piero Vivalda coming out of the kitchen and pro-actively chatting with all of the diners. Their food pays homage to the traditional food of the Langhe region of Piemonte while also incorporating some French and modern techniques.
As we looked over the menus, we drank some aperitivos of a nicely dry rosé bubbly and a glass of Vermentino. Focaccia bread was also placed on the table:
The amuse-bouche was a cotechine sausage over puréed potatoes. The boiled sausage made with the meat, fat and rind from a pig was a larger bite that was very comforting:
Coming from California where this delicacy is banned, we eagerly ordered the Foie Gras served 2 ways: as a terrine with figs and lightly seared. Candied lemon rind and tart apple slices acted as condiments to help tame the richness, and a toasted piece of brioche was also served with this heavenly dish:
Only at a 2-star Michelin place can a veal tripe stew be priced the same as foie gras. As a battle of offal parts, it’s actually hard to say which would win since the tripe stewed with local leeks and lentils was very tender and comforting while the foie gras was decadent and rich:
2004 was a banner year for Barolos, and we decided that this would be the time to splurge a little. From the phone book sized wine list, we selected a local Barolo we have not tried before from Bricco Giubellini. It paired with our meal perfectly. Notice the orange tinge from the Nebbiolo grape reflected on white table cloth:
We had not ordered a pasta course since we were nearing saturation from the whole trip, but this must have been considered a faux pas as the kitchen kindly sent out a couple of small plates of agnolotti in a leek cream sauce. Julienned strips of leeks, the local specialty produce, topped the pasta adding more of the delicious allum flavor:
We ordered one white truffle dish: the egg with fonduta made with local Raschera cheese made in the Cuneo province. The server briefly showed us the dish with white truffle shavings, then proceeded to mix it all together with the soft cooked eggs and cheese. The aromatic truffle flavor was absorbed into the cheese fondue. It was a very rich and satisfying dish, and easily reminded us why we make the journey to Piemonte at this time of the year:
La Finanziera is made with offal parts from various animals such as beef and chicken cockscombs, kidneys, liver, glands, etc. It is a Piemontese traditional dish that is rarely seen outside of this region (we have yet to have a US sighting). With origins as a peasant dish since it is comprised of scraps from the animals, it is now one of the more difficult dishes to make because many of the ingredients are harder to procure. The dish has a long history dating back to the 15th century, but lore has it that sometime in the 1800’s, it became very popular with the bankers, dressed in jackets known as the financier, hence the name.
Featuring organs cooked 2 different ways, Antica Corona Reale’s version was first refined by Chef Renzo, and it has remained virtually untouched for over 30 years. The stew is cooked in a double cream, and the fried organs are arranged on top offering 2 tasty ways to ingest offal:
We generally do not order desserts, but it seems that many restaurants in Italy insist that meals end with a sweet bite. A perfect sized dessert of a mousse topped with puffed rice was served:
To aid our digestion process, we ordered a couple of digestivos: a Grappa and a Cardamaro to end the meal. Another Piemonte specialty, the Cardamaro, made from cardoons, was much more bitter than it was sweet, making it a new favorite amaro:
From our first visit, we remembered that their petite fours were spectacular, and it most certainly remains so. The digestivos we ingested helped us find some room to eat a few, but not all of these beautiful pastries:
Antica Corona Reale is on our list of go-to restaurants when we visit the Piemonte region. It is easy to see how they were awarded that 2nd elusive Michelin star with the combination of excellent food, wine and service.
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Italy. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, please enjoy these travel-related posts.
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