Get to know Piedmont cuisine.  

piedmont foodFood doesn’t travel. People do.

If you are planning a trip to Italy, chances are you are planning to eat a lot. But, you don’t go out looking for “Italian food” when you are here. In fact, you really only find ‘top Italian restaurants’ in places like New York City, Tokyo, Copenhagen, London, etc. That’s because in Italy it’s all just food.

While that may seem like common sense there is more to it. You see, Italy’s food culture varies by region. Meaning cuisine changes – however slight or great – are based on distance.

Let’s talk about food culture in the Piedmont region.

The joke with the locals is that you never eat anywhere better in the world, but “you always eat the same thing!” Piedmont cuisine is rich and savory, matching the region’s powerful and tannic Nebbiolo wines as well as the acidic and often juicy Barbera wines. Think beef, pork, root vegetables, and of course those savory white truffles. Sigh.

Despite its proximity to the sea (the Italian Riviera can be reached in as little as an hour), traditional Piedmont cuisine offers limited seafood options. The hills and countryside made it difficult to access in the days of old, so you see more canned seafood, like anchovies and sardines.

Many of the regional favorites are popular year round, with seasonal fruit and vegetable changes. Check back in for tips on seasonal Piedmont cuisine during spring and summer months.

For now, let’s review some of the most popular foods of Piedmont.

piedmont marketPiedmont Cuisine: A guide to traditional foods of the Piedmont region.

The Antipasti of Piedmont 

Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda is not for the faint of heart; in the Piedmontese dialect it means “warm sauce”. The olive oil-based sauce is a fondue-like mix of anchovy and garlic, served over an open flame to keep it warm. To eat it, you dip with vegetables and bread. Bagna Cauda is a popular dish in autumn and winter. Locals generally pair it with tannic Dolcetto and acidic, fruity Barbera.

Bagna Cauda Day

piedmont cuisine
Experience Bagna Cauda at the three-day event that celebrates it in November. 
Photo Credit: Bagna Cauda Day.

Carne Cruda

If you like your meat raw, you’ll find this Piedmont cuisine favorite heavenly. The Piedmont region cattle of Razza bovine Piemontese has high breeding standards and low cholesterol. In the 1870s, the cattle began developing a unique double muscling characteristic that yields beef with extra muscle mass and little fat. This lean beef is as tender and juicy as they come. The meat is generally served as carne cruda, braised, or sliced, not generally as a bistecca as you get in Florence.

piedmont carne
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Find carne cruda as a thinly sliced beef carpaccio or ground, topped or mixed with olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper – sometimes it even gets black or white truffles shavings. Pairing choices also include Dolcetto or Barbera.

Vitello Tonnato

If you do a fixed menu here you are sure to get vitello tonnato. It is a dish of cold sliced roast veal that is covered in a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce flavored with tuna and often topped with capers. The dish pairs well with the local whites of Arneis or Gavi (grape: Cortese).

The Primi of Piedmont 


Every region of Italy has its own type of pasta. In the Piedmont region, tajarin is one of the most popular. The long, thin ribbon-like pasta is similar to tagliatelle. The delicate, egg-based pasta is a golden yellow hue from the rich farmhouse eggs used to make it. The most traditional recipes require 40 egg yolks and over two pounds (just under a kilo) of flour. The pasta, cut into thin strands, is traditionally served with a tomato- and meat- or sausage-based ragu or with a simple butter and sage. During white truffle season, it is offered with local butter and truffles.

piedmont cuisinepiedmont cuisine pasta


What is the Alba White Truffle?

The Alba white truffle is a naturally occurring subterranean fungus, found in the Piedmont countryside around Asti and Alba during autumn and winter. The area’s woodland fruits are best in colder months, showing pungent aromas and strong, earthy tastes. The local delicacies are shaved over pasta, fried eggs, risotto, cheese, and more. The Alba white truffles reach up to $3,600 a pound.
white truffle festival

Click to read more about Alba White Truffles and the Alba White Truffle Fair that takes place in October and November each year.

Agnolotti del Plin

In Piemontese, plin means ‘pinch’ because during assembly it is pinched into a small ravioli-like pasta. Traditional recipes were done with a roast veal filling, but today it is often found with three types of roast meat (pork, beef, and rabbit) and vegetables. You can also find meatless versions of vegetable and cheeses. Like tajarin, the ragu is a meat-based tomato sauce or butter and sage.

pasta plin piedmont
At Scarpa Villas, we can arrange for a cooking course right at your villa. Here, guests have made plin. See details below.

Risotto al Barbera or Barolo

Wine and truffles are not the only things that make Piedmont cuisine famous all over the world. The region is also known for its rice. The heart of European rice production is Vercelli, located in the Piedmont region. The territory’s rice paddies have been used for cultivation since the 15th century. So, naturally, risotto is a popular dish. In the Langhe, you’ll often find Risotto al Barolo, while in the Monferrato, you’ll see more Risotto al Barbera on the menu.

The Secondi of Piedmont

Brasato al Barolo / Brasato al Barbaresco

For this traditional main course veal is marinated overnight in Nebbiolo — Langhe Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Barolo or Barbaresco, then braised till tender in herbs and vegetables. It is served with roast potatoes or over polenta and paired with Barolo or Barbaresco.

Piedmont cuisine
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The once traditional dish of finanziera was a peasant food using less desirable animal parts. Often served in cold months, the stew includes sweetbreads, veal spinal cords, brains, bull testicles, chicken feet, and cockscombs (rooster crests). Arneis used to be the base of the sauce, but today Nebbiolo is used more.

Bollito Misto

Another adventure in meats. Bollito misto includes various cuts of meat that are boiled with carrots, onion, and celery. It is served steaming hot with mashed or boiled potatoes as well as different sauces, including salsa verde, tomato and anchovy, and mustard.

villas private event
Guests at Scarpa Villas enjoy a candlelight dinner, complete with a personal chef and service. See below for detail to book.

The Dolce of Piedmont

Torta di Nocciole

Piedmont is also home to hazelnuts, so you can find all sorts of specialty foods made with nocciole. One of the most traditional, and a favorite dessert is Torta di Nocciolea hazelnut cake made of the roasted nuts, paired perfectly with local sweet frizzante of Moscato d’Asti.


A pudding-like dessert, bunet (or bonet) is an ancient Piedmont region dish that is made with eggs, sugar, milk, cocoa, rum, and dried amaretti.

piedmont dessertPart of the beauty of dining in Italy is the cultural variables, focusing on the local delicacies, and especially the wine. For Piedmont cuisine, you are spoiled with rich, savory flavors. Yes, it’s true, you often eat many of the same dishes here, but every mouthful is an indulgence.

Have you experienced Piedmont foods? Let us know what you think in comments!

For guests at the villas, we can arrange a specialty cooking

Buon Appetito!

piedmont cuisine plin