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Guido da Costigliole at Relais San Maurizio
Località San Maurizio 39
12058 - Santo Stefano Belbo
Cuneo (CN) - Italia
T +39 340 4728569
T +39 0141 844455
BY ANTONIO GALLONI | DECEMBER 02, 2022
Piccola Panna Cotta, Tonno con Marmellate di Albicocche (Small Panna Cotta, Tuna with Apricot Marmalade), Crackers on Mousse di Fegatini (Crackers with Liver Mousse); Mousse di Gorgonzola e Pere con Mandorla Dolce (Gorgonzola Mousse, Pear and Sweet Almond)
Insalata Verde; Finocchi, Carote, Pomodoro, Mozzarella, Uovo, Olive (Green Salad; Fennel, Carrots, Tomato, Mozzarella, Eggs, Olives)
Filetto Crudo di Vitella, Mousse di Parmigiano, Béarnaise, Acciughe (Raw Fillet of Veal, Parmesan Mousse, Béarnaise Sauce, Anchovies)
Questo è “Il” Vitello Tonnato (“The” Veal in Tuna Sauce)
Dal 1961 I Plin Alla Tovaglia (Since 1961 Hand Made Agnolotti Pasta on
Tagilolini al Tartufo (Tagliolini with Truffles)
|2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne||98|
|2018 G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero||96|
|2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole||97|
The Alciatis are arguably the most important culinary family in Piedmont. For decades, Guido and Lidia Alciati ran their beloved restaurant in Costigliole d’Asti, in the heart of Moscato country. Guido was well-known for his extraordinary cellar and for taking huge positions on wines back in the day when Barolo and Barbaresco were a hard sell. One of his most legendary purchases was a large amount of the Produttori del Barbaresco’s 1978 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà that his customers enjoyed for many years after. “Back then, a reputable restaurant wouldn’t even think of putting a wine younger than ten years of age on their list,” the Produttori’s Aldo Vacca told me recently, a reminder of how things used to be. Lidia was known for her cooking, especially her agnolotti al plin, which for many Piedmont fans remains the gold standard. All of this took place at a time when Piedmont was a backwater relative to today, very much mired in the post World War II braindrain of young talent away from the countrysides to cities that offered brighter economic prospects. Tourism, such as it was, existed only among diehard wine and food lovers.
The selection of amuse bouches is superb.
The original Guido closed in 2001 following Guido Alciati’s passing in 1997. Piero and Ugo Alciati moved to Pollenzo, where they ran a highly ambitious restaurant before settling into their current home at Fontanafredda, the subject of next week’s Vinous Table. Andrea, the youngest son and his partner, Monica Magnani, run their Guido at the breathtaking Relais San Maurizio, not too far from the original location. Ugo is now also consulting at Andrea’s Guido, which marks a sort of family reunion. “Even though my brothers and I run separate restaurants, the family is very united, which is why I wanted to mention Ugo on our menu,” Andrea Alciati explained.
Guido at the Relais San Maurizio is easily among the top handful of restaurants in Piedmont. Its location is pretty convenient to Barbaresco but quite a bit farther from Barolo, while the drive does require comfort with Piedmont's more rural roads. But every time I eat here, I ask myself why I waited so long to return. The dining room, with its vaulted ceilings, is quite cozy and warm in the winter. In the summer months, outdoor tables afford spectacular views of the countryside and offer a slightly more informal atmosphere, which I prefer if given the choice. There are several tasting menus, and plenty of a la carte options, so readers won’t have any problem with a lack of choices. Guido is only open for dinner, so this lunch was quite a treat.
Questo è “Il” Vitello Tonnato (“The” Veal in Tuna Sauce).
From the moment the first amuse bouches were served, I could
tell this was going to be a spectacular lunch. The flavors were so vibrant. Everything
was so delicious. Keep in mind, this lunch was supposed to be a ‘simple’ meal
nestled among epic dinners, and yet it might have been my favorite meal in the
span of a few days I spent with friends celebrating two milestone birthdays!
We started with salad, which was beautifully done and exquisitely delicious. This is a ‘pro’ trick I learned many years ago. As much as I want to eat everything, a few days of lunches and dinners in Piedmont during truffle season is enough to send pretty much anyone over the edge. So, when possible, I always have a salad or some kind of vegetable. As the Guido kitchen showed, even salad can be spectacular in Piedmont.
Next, we had a few dishes served family style, which is not
typical in Piedmont, but really suited the spirit of this lunch perfectly. The
Raw Fillet of Veal with Parmesan Mousse, Bernaise Sauce and Anchovies is a take
on the classic carne cruda raw beef appetizer. It was divine. The Vitello
Tonnato was presented as pouches of veal with tuna stuffing. I ate more than my
fair share; let’s leave it at that. Lastly, we had some of Guido’s famous
agnolotti, served alla tovaglia, or
in a cloth napkin, unseasoned, the traditional way agnolotti were presented to
the family patriarch for approval prior to being served with the classic sauce
of pan drippings. These were finger food at its best.
Tagilolini al Tartufo (Tagliolini with Truffles).
For our main course, we had tagliolini al tartufo, a very simple plate of pasta generously topped with truffles. The tagliolini at Guido are a bit thicker than in most places, which makes for a more substantial plate of pasta. As Vinous readers probably know, 2022 is not a great year for truffles, but these were certainly good enough for me. What a wonderful dish.
Guido has an excellent wine list, mostly younger vintages, and very well-priced for a restaurant of this level. We started with the 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, which is every bit as racy and seductive as it has always been. It’s a great, great vintage for Comtes. I was surprised to see how much Burlotto’s 2018 Barolo Monvigliero has shut down. That won’t be an issue in time, when the 2018 is actually ready to drink, if anything the wine’s reticence suggests it is going to have a very bright future. It is impressive, but not as inviting as I had hoped. The 2013 Barolo Bricco delle Viole from Vajra is another surprise. I was not expecting such a potent wine, but the 2013 appears to have gained considerable weight and power since I last tasted it.
Service was top-notch, but hospitality – the art of making
people feel a certain way – well, that was next level. And I think it is the
ensemble of food, wine, ambiance and hospitality that made this lunch so deeply
satisfying. It’s a meal and a memory I will cherish for a very long time.
Readers visiting Piedmont should carve out the time to go to Guido at the Relais San Maurizio. The hotel is wonderful too, should you not want to leave. Andrea Alciati, Monica Magnani and the team at Guido are at the top of their game.
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