LE LANGHE, Italy — The slow food movement has spread quickly since its inception in 1986 in the Piedmontese town of Bra. Slow food strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, and it is a natural extension of what has always existed here: the marriage of food and wine, of sociability and sustainability. This philosophy is reflected in the following restaurants in Le Langhe, the heart of wine and truffle country near Bra.
Osteria de Gemma If you always wanted an Italian nonna, this is the place to go. There is no menu. Diners just eagerly await the next dish. Pace yourself. The menu completo is a steal at $32.60 including wine (four antipasti, two firsts, two seconds with a side, and three house-made desserts). Highlights include carne crudo and vitello tonnato, ravioli and tajarin al ragu, and rabbit. The meringata is worth a trip to Italy in and of itself. And the final touch when we were there: Gemma came around to every table to ask if diners enjoyed their meal. Just like nonna would. Via Marconi 6, Roddino (CN), 011-390-173-794-252, www.leradicieleali.it
Ristorante “da Felicin” This is both a cozy hotel and an intimate restaurant set in the rolling vineyards of Monforte d’Alba. Owners Nino and Silvia exemplify the slow food movement by cooking for every guest as if they are part of their extended family. Don’t miss the house-made tajarin, fresh egg pasta rolled out and cut into thin strips, seasonally served with locally foraged white truffles; the Barolo braised veal tail; and a delicate Moscato zabaglione with cornflour biscuits. Via Vallada 18, Monforte d’Alba (CN), 011-390-173-78225,
Trattoria nelle Vigne This modern, elegant restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the vineyard-lined countryside showcases inventive Piedmontese dining. The menu completo includes five antipasti, two small portions of first and second courses, and dessert for $30.80. Seasonal options include bagna cauda, a Piedmontese-style dip served with raw, boiled, or roasted root vegetables, slow roasted beef with local hazelnut sauce, and the perfect ending: chestnut semifreddo. Via Moglia Gerlotto 7/A, Diano d’Alba (CN), 011-390-173-468-503, www.trattorianellevigne.it
Ristorante Osteria del Vignaiolo
This self-described “rustic elegant” restaurant has views of the breathtaking landscape of the Langhe surrounding this medieval hilltop town. The menu degustazione includes two antipasti, a first course, a second course with a side, and a dessert for $41.50. After dinner coffee is served with light-as-air mini pastries. Fraz.
Santa Maria, 12, La Morra (CN),