Two great men and an amazing restaurant in Piemonte: Guido da Castigliole

In Piemonte there is no such thing as a casual dinner. Last night I met up with Massimo Benevelli and Paolo Saracco for a ‘casual dinner’. This dinner was held at Guido da Castigliole which is located inside the San Maurizio monastery.

The place of agnolotti
For half a century the undisputed benchmark for haute cuisine of the Langhe territory, the Guido da Costigliole restaurant is set in the ancient wine cellar of the San Maurizio monastery. Underground recesses and tunnels decorated with works by contemporary artists, this site holds a trove of more than 2,500 different wines, from Piedmont, France and the rest of the world. These wines have been collected over the years by Andrea Alciati, the young chef who picked up where Lidia Alciati left off, running the restaurant with Monica Magnini and Luca Zecchin and creating dishes that blend traditional flavors with modern fine dining skillfully using the region’s famed produce.The restaurant is open every evening but on Tuesdays it is only open to hotel guests. It can seat 80.

It really has to be seen to believed. The restaurant and food was amazing. We drank old vintages of Paolo Saracco Pinot Noir matched against Burgundy and the Saracco held it’s own on all fronts.

Paolo Saracco (left)

Paolo and Massimo are very similar people. Both quiet and unassuming and do not talk for the sake of talking. They let their wines talk for them.

Massimo Benevelli (left)

Maybe as a sign of the times in Italy, the restaurant was unusally quiet, with just a few tables being used and because of this, after dinner we had a tour of the cellars. I have never seen more Gaja or Conterno in my life.

Today after another ‘casual lunch’ with Paolo Saracco, I will head to Monforte to the cellars of Benevelli to try the upcoming vintages.

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