Located on top of the vineyards in Treiso, Italy since 1997, La Ciau Tornavento offers excellent views by day and a bustling lively scene during the evening. The building was a former insane asylum that has been turned into an inn with its own Michelin-starred restaurant offering very contemporary and imaginative takes on food. It is essentially run and operated by Owner-Chef Maurilio Garola, his wife Cecilia, restaurant manager Nadia Benech, and her husband, Sous Chef Marco Lombardo.
Many of the formal restaurants we dined at in Piemonte have been relatively quiet, but La Ciau’s atmosphere was buzzing with lively crowd noise, perhaps due to echoes from the spectacular floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Service is efficient, and the wine list was impeccable, making it a great place to have our final meal in Piemonte.
The amuse-bouche started with a Piemontese Russian Salad. It is not clear how a salad of Russian origin made with mayonnaise, potatoes and other vegetables, became linked to Piemonte, but it is available at many restaurants as an antipasti option:
A second amuse-bouche antipasti platter arrived which contained a meatball stuffed cabbage, a fried zucchini flower and mini liver crostini. All of these bites were delicious:
We ordered a 2004 Barbaresco from Cantina del Pino to pair with our meal:
We started by splitting the squid dish, which the kitchen sent out in split plates. Served 2 ways, the tender cuttlefish was cooked sous-vide and served with their deep fried tentacles. Potatoes were also served 2 ways to match their squid counterparts: as riced potato and fried into chips. The addition of herbed olive oil and tomato halves showed off the colors of Italy on the plate:
We would agree that shellfish and pork products pair perfectly together such as clams with bacon. This high-end version features a perfectly rare in the center seared scallop paired with crisped pancetta and garlic chips:
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the carne cruda of battuta was not finely chopped as it usually is at other places. This allowed us to taste the excellent quality of the Vitellone:
As a secondi, we selected the very tender kid goat. The fried semolina cake and fried cheese (also slightly sweet) was almost like having dessert on the plate:
The fried San Remo shrimp that came breaded with bread crumbs and the local hazelnuts (Tonda Gentile variety). Playfully plated in a parchment candy roll, the giant prawns were perfectly fried and crunchy:
The only misstep in service was the petite four platter never arrived, even after sitting for almost an hour. Feeling very saturated and full from the whole trip anyway, we were actually OK with that since we probably would have just stared at it anyway.
It was surprising to us that the menu was so seafood-centric for a restaurant in Piemonte, but self-trained Chef Garola has spent much time with Japanese chefs so it makes sense. All of the unique dishes were truly delicious and beautifully plated. This was a great ending to a great gastronomic journey for us.
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Italy. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, please enjoy these travel-related posts.
A note about the Russian Salad: it was invented at the end of the late nineteenth century by a piemontese chef of the Savoia kingdom.
On the occasion of the visit of all representatives of the states of ancient Russia, the chef wanted to pay homage to the guests.
So he picked up all the vegetables availables in the royal gardens and bound them with a sauce that at that time was not a mayonnaise.
The symbol of this dish is the beetroot, with a red color that in piemontese dialect is pronounced “Rusa”, so “insalata russa” (that means red salad in piemontese but italians misread as “russian salad”).
Beetroot doesn’t like to everyone so as time pass it’s not always used in the russian salad.
In some places in Russia this salad is called “italian salad” funny isn’t it?
Ilaria, Thanks for your great insight into the Russian Salad. Yes, I once saw it on a menu in France referred to as a Salade Piemontaise and it was clearly the Insalata Russa.