Ristorante Bandini

Calamar con alcachofas y olivas
Massimo Rivetti
Country: Italy
City: Portacomaro 14037 (AT)
Address: Via Cornapo' 135, Loc.Cornapo'
+39 (0)141299252
Closed: Mondays
Price: 40 €
Tasting menu:: 35-40 €

Imagine the quietness and the slow pace of the countryside, a house along the road, a clear and bright dining room, with the walls full of posters of exhibitions held in the most famous museums and galleries from around the world, a classical motorbike in the middle of the room (a 1972 Guzzi V7-750 used by the chef to travel through half Europe during his previous life), and a display cabinet full of great liqueurs, together with John Fante’s book,Wait until spring, Bandini. Welcome to Cornapo', a hamlet of Portacomaro, located few kilometres from Asti city centre.
Massimo Rivetti works here since the restaurant was opened, in 2002. A place that exudes passion, cult of product and great command of local gastronomic history. Massimo is an intelligent cook who has been able to adapt rural cookery –rustic, tasty, but a bit heavy regarding taste– to current trends. How? Lightening the traditional recipes, reducing the cooking times, showing off a good sense of aesthetics, refining the dishes that were excessively seasoned, focussing on fine and delicate flavours, and using many raw or slightly cooked vegetables, with precision, rigor, straightness, simplicity and neatness.
As Giorgio Grigliatti says: “There should be a modern restaurant or bistro like Bandini in every country!”.
We started with the appetizers: anchovies with green sauce (perfect), Roccaverano robiola (curd) foam and pumpkin jam; one of the most interesting dishes. The curd is whipped with cream and milk, introduced into a siphon, seasoned with some crystals of Maldon salt and coated with a spoonful of pumpkin jam. The quintessence of the best cheese in Piedmont!
Among the starters, we still remember the marinated Fassone knuckle (raw with salt and sugar for 24 hours), simply cut all'albese: sober and essential, expressing all the sapid purity of the meat. Or the egg baked in a bain-marie at low temperature (great) and served over some sautéed salad, delicately seasoned with anchovy sauce; the best dish of all. One of Massimo’s greatest classics, in the sense that it reflects its style: essential, straight, neat, precise and refined. The creaminess of the egg yolk that accompanies the sautéed salad is a real exquisiteness! And here is another irreproachably executed proposal: squids lain over artichokes and Taggiasche olives.
The gnocchi with Roccaverano fondue and crushed hazelnuts from Alba, cooked avoiding any sensation of heaviness or grease, are a real hymn to the Piedmont region. The same can be said about the ravioli stuffed with meat and served with the juice of roasted meat: philologically coherent and correct!
Among the main courses, we must highlight the grilled veal cheeks with wine sauce, cacao beans and crushed hazelnuts with vegetables slightly sautéed with butter; or the classical Fassone cutlet from Piedmont, as well as the turbot placed over some red pepper sauce and raw salads –the chef does not look down on sea fish!
And do not miss the cheese assortment! Almost all of them are made by refiner Parola di Saluzzo (Cuneo). Instead of a huge cheese trolley, we were served a meticulous selection of the house, proposed with their ideal ripening. This is real culture! Just a few varieties of cheese, perfectly ripened, neither too strong nor too old. Although you might think you already know the products, you can’t help being amazed while you savour them: the delicate but tasty Seirass, the creamy but not aggressive bleu from Moncenisio, the light but perfumed Castelmagno, the great Comté, as well as the incommensurable Vacherin Mont d’Or.
In the dining room, Antonello Bera, the chef’s partner, has perfectly assimilated the concept of “Renaissance des AOC” and proposes a wine list that, despite of not being very long, has got great labels, both local and foreign ones, that come from small producers whose traditional techniques allow them to create flavours that are quite different from the wines we are used to.
We were offered some Barbera d’Asti “Bogliona” 2006, from the Scarpa cellar: probably one of the 20 best wines in Piedmont; tasty, fresh, slightly sweet, with a great personality. The deep expression of grape and land. Really moving!
Ristorante Bandini: a very suitable place for passionate and curious gourmets.