The Oste of Filippo and Sylvia is a place that deserves mention. I could start by saying “thank you” to Filippo and Sylvia, they made our trip to Alba very special, and if you ever decide to go there, use the code word, “Mr. Moon”. It is a pseudonym I inherited seven years ago after I hosted tasting for the top producers in Piemonte.
My wife and I first met Filippo seventeen years ago when he was responsible for the front of the house of “Cesare dei Cacciatori” in Albaretto della Torre. He was a young man at the time in his twenties, enthusiastic and energetic and already dedicated to his profession. Now wind ahead seventeen years and Filippo is married to Sylvia, and they operate an Oste (Inn Keepers) down the road from his Dad Cesare. The Langhe is a small place, but there is space enough for everyone as life goes on.
Oste Filippo is a place we enjoy to visit, he understands the idea of hospitality, something that the Langhe shares with many visitors, but sometimes you feel it is missing as it grows with more tourists year by year. Their restaurant is petite and cozy, it has three small rooms; one is located aside the fireplace at the garden side, and the next rooms are interior spaces but have charm and his style, representational of his heritage. The rooms are surrounded with some art of Cesare, perhaps some of his best classical paintings, and Filippo’s shrine made up of a collection of important items.
This past trip we stayed in a village some 11 kilometers away but each day we took the car and traveled over to Albaretto to see him, drink and enjoy the atmosphere. His garden in the winter is still very pretty and on clear days the view is spectacular, the air brisk and the light enormous.
Filippo is an excellent host, and is passionate about what he does. He is driven and focused, his wine choices are both interesting and broad in scope. This trip we tasted many wines we had never tried, both from the region and from other areas in Italy. He has an in-depth knowledge about wines and he pursues his dreams to share them with clients and friends.
The cuisine of the Langhe is getting more and more gastronomical, a type of overkill that makes no sense at all. At Filippo’s Oste you find simply dishes, those foods that make you understand the terror of the region, the spirit of the Langhe. But most of all, if you search Pico Magnatum, local white truffles, it is here you’ll find them.
I traveled in the countryside in search of the finest purveyors of Piedmont beef, or as they refer to it as the real veal. I have not the time to explain it, but Filippo’s butcher Giancarlo offers clients with the finest Fassone on planet earth. His meats are truly superb and in a region where meat is often consumed raw.
The simplicity of this dish is brilliant, and all you need to add is some virgin oil but not too much or the fruity oil interferes with the smoothness and purity of the beef. The touch of celery is a perfect way to enjoy Fassone, I take a piece each bite. The pièce de résistance are the white truffles, the aroma is so intensive, it sticks in my mind. Having left Piemonte, I still savor the white truffles when I think of them.
This time we tried a new experiment, something incredible and it works. You take a good dry champagne (not too much age) and slice the white truffle into the glass. This is something truly mind-boggling, the champagne ignites the aromas of the champagne and the glass perfume intensifies. You sip it and you can’t believe it, the taste of truffles shines through the bubbles and the alcohol maintains the freshness, it is ephemeral.
I was getting tired of the traditional “Tajarin”, a fresh pasta noodles which is served almost everywhere in the Langhe. Made with 00 wheat flour plenty of eggs and a touch of maize flour and salt. Don’t get me wrong, we like it, but we ate as much as possible during our trip, and you never leave feeling light.
A twist to the usual, Oste Filippo has a twist to their pasta dish. A flat pasta with onions and white truffles was sublime, it takes time to give credit to a small establishment, the chef is a young woman, she still learns her way, though the dishes remain to the point. I still think about it, the idea of pasta that is crunchy, made with corn and flour, it has an unusual texture and contrast. The Parmesan cheese and white truffles are a nice combination and the onions are soft and sweet.
The rabbit cooked in the fireplace, it is difficult to get right, the fire soaks the meat with a light smokey taste, it is basted on the spit and then served with potatoes.
Next visit to Alba make sure you call Filippo and reserve the table by the fireplace, our table their family table it represents their history and their future.
Oste in Albaretto Filippo
Umberto 12 street – 12050 Albaretto Torre (CN) Italy