Looking for an authentic, family-run restaurant? Trattoria Del Peso in Belvedere Langhe, a tiny village in the Alta Langa (Upper Langhe), in Piedmont is the real deal. Run by the two Schellino brothers, Ezio as front of house and Mauro in the kitchen, this Trattoria has been run by the same family since 1948 and was started by the 'nonna' of the two brothers. It was originally started as just rooms, with the trattoria to feed guests. Now open only for lunch, the menu changes daily, and Mauro's philosophy is to provide a traditional-style menu of a string of tastes, but never too heavy or too much so that you could easily come back and eat there the next day. Clever. The Sunday menu is more extensive and elaborate than the simple weekday lunch, designed to allow a longer celebration of the dining occasion, whether it's a meal between friends or family or colleagues.
Decorated with gingham tablecloths, rustic glasses, an historical display of truffle slicers, cooking implements and vintage posters, to say this place oozes of traditional character is an understatement. Then there is an old telephone booth, in the corner, which was quite unbelievably occupied by an old lady for the first 45 minutes our lunch! This brown and completely soundproofed booth - I was told - operated as the town’s single public phone booth many years ago. If only the walls could talk…
And the food was just as full of tradition, but with real character. We were there on a Sunday, and started with fresh figs with local Tuma cheese, delicate poached cod (merluzzo) with boiled potatoes, spicy breaded prawns on skewers, carne cruda (seasoned raw meat) topped with aromatic shaved black truffle, and crumbed fresh porcini. This was followed by agnolotti del plin (meat-filled agnolotti, pinched (‘plin’ in Piedmontese dialect)), and tajarin (egg noodle pasta) with porcini and black truffle, then roast lamb cutlets with prunes and fried semolina. The dessert platter was a sublime trio of pannacotta with a hint of coffee, budino (a traditional amaretto flavoured milk pudding) and pesche ripiene (poached peaches stuffed with chocolate and amaretti biscuits). True to Mauro's philosophy, the portions were not too big, so at the end of the meal you didn't feel like you had overeaten.
Coupled with some great local wine (such as Del Tetto Favorita, Gillardi Dolcetto D'Alba and Moscato d’Asti) plus limoncello, grappa and coffee, it's the kind of place you can easily while away the day. There is also a ping pong table out the back in a sun-filled room, and an old wooden bar for coffee and digestifs. Attached to the restaurant is an alimentary store (tabaccheria), from which the perfume of truffles was emanating into the restaurant!
A great, homey place. Will be back soon, maybe tomorrow!
Eleanor Fletcher - living in the heart of the Langhe, Monforte D'Alba (Barolo). Searching for great eats, formidable drinks and fun times. Married to a Barolo and Barbaresco producer, plus a mother of two 'principesse'.