Home Home Page Ristorante 21.9 by Flavio Costa * – Piedmont, Italy

Ristorante 21.9 by Flavio Costa * – Piedmont, Italy

14 minutes read

Flavio Costa is one of the most down-to-earth chefs we have ever met. His smile is contagious, and he himself emits unique joy and cordiality, before which every guest melts. The first time we saw him, we hardly realized that we had just met a Michelin-starred chef in one of the most highly rated regions of Italy in this regard – Piedmont and particularly Alba. And he himself is not local at all. But here, above the village of Piobesi d’Alba , on the territory of the Tenuta Carretta winery , he found his second home and a place to create. And here we are today at Restaurant 21.9 by chef Flavio Costa.

Chef Flavio Costa at Restaurant 21.9, Piedmont, Italy
Chef Flavio Costa at Restaurant 21.9, Piedmont, Italy

Restaurant 21.9

Everything around Restaurant 21.9 is very personal. The name is actually the date of birth of Chief Costa’s daughters. The restaurant itself is small and quiet. To reach it, you pass through the cozy homely atmosphere of the lobby, which is also the entrance to the charming Albergo di Charme hotel on the second floor.

The lobby of restaurant 21.9 and hotel "Albergo di Charme"
The lobby of restaurant 21.9 and hotel “Albergo di Charme”

If you are staying at the hotel to also enjoy the wine tourism of the region (we are located on the territory of the Tenuta Carretta cellar , which has existed since 1467), you can also meet Chef Costa outside the opening hours of the restaurant. Sometimes it may even happen that he personally welcomes guests to the hotel, or you may catch him around the colorful little bottles neatly arranged in the lobby. These beautiful bottles contain a real treasure. A variety of digestifs with different flavours, personally created by chef Flavio based on grappa from Barolo . We’re now bitterly regretting that we took home only one of them (with oranges from Sicily, it’s gorgeous), but it’s a good reason to return to Tenuta Carretta.

Restaurant 21.9 and Albergo di Charme are in the right section of the Tenuta Carretta cellar building
Restaurant 21.9 and Albergo di Charme are in the right section of the Tenuta Carretta cellar building

Dinner with the ballerinas

Elegance, simplicity and closeness. These are the words that very simply and fully describe the dining room of the restaurant. There is room mostly for mininimalist coziness and every table is a stage for an exquisite performance. In the middle of the tables is a little papier-mâché ballerina to remind each guest that everything here is a work of art. The decoration is finished only by a few orchids, but who needs more?

Restaurant 21.9

The “backstage” is so close that you can almost touch it. In fact, the kitchen is semi-open and is immediately adjacent to the dining room. The feeling is just like visiting a close friend – a hospitable host who is doing his best to make you have a good time, but at the same time does it with such ease and a smile that you feel cared for at every moment. So while we admire the ballerinas and see Tenuta Carretta’s divine Campofranco Riesling already appearing in our glasses, the celebration begins.

We really liked their solution of serving sparkling and still water. As soon as we took our seats, the waiters asked us who preferred what and gave us cups with a different colored decorative ball at the bottom, so that they would never confuse who preferred which water. It made an amazing impression on us, because in many fine restaurants, including those hoping for a Michelin star, we have had our water mixed up, and Andrey does not like carbonated water at all.

The kitchen of Chef Flavio Costa

Chef Flavio Costa is actually from Liguria, but a few years ago he found his place here in Piedmont. And the cuisine in the 21.9 restaurant is a magical combination of the traditions of the two regions. It is based mainly on seafood from the Ligurian Sea and local game, sometimes with lamb and beef. Seasonal local vegetables and fruits are honoured. And the philosophy of their preparation is such that the natural taste of each product can be emphasized.

Cream of zucchini and cuttlefish soup
Cream of zucchini and cuttlefish soup

And the feeling on the palate is just like that – as if you are on the freshest spring day and greedily tasting fresh, just-picked zucchini. And it’s actually cream of zucchini soup, one of several parts of the first appetizer.

Starters
Starters

The appetizer is like a necklace of precious stones – a string of miniature saucers and cups, filled with different tastes, colors and textures. The soup is from zucchini and cuttlefish. Another has focaccia with anchovies. Miniature cannoli with cheese, walnuts, herbs and honey. Crunchy bread with lamb liver. Ball with robiola cheese from Lange region and pesto.

In the 21.9 restaurant you can choose between 3 tasting menus, as well as individual dishes a la carte. In addition, you can order a special tasting of local white truffles from Alba, which, however, were not in season during our visit. And although we don’t like to comment on prices, we must note that the price policy of the restaurant is more than attractive for this class of places.

In the 21.9 restaurant you can order one of 3 tasting menus
In the 21.9 restaurant you can order one of 3 tasting menus

The wine in the restaurant 21.9

Restaurant 21.9 is located on the grounds of the Tenuta Caretta winery and our first and only choice was their wines. But still, if you’re after something else, the restaurant’s wine list is extensive enough.

Riesling has quickly become one of our favorite wines at Tenuta Carretta
Riesling has quickly become one of our favorite wines at Tenuta Carretta

While we waited for the appetizers, we started with Tenuta Carretta’s fabulous Riesling, which we can’t get enough of.

From land to sea

After the exciting starters, the menu continued with a combination of two products – one from the sea and one from the land. Cuttlefish with fried artichoke in basil and thyme sauce. Another dish in which there is not a single superfluous or strange element, and the natural flavors of the products are so strongly emphasized that you are transported directly to the source.

Here we opened a bottle of Podio Langhe Nebbiolo DOCG 2021, which also contains 15% of the Barbera variety. This is not unusual, the regulations allow it. A great wine, very fruity, with aromas of cherries and sour cherries, juicy and with very soft tannins. A wonderful and fresh red wine.

Caramelized onions with shallot sorbet and fondue
Caramelized onions with shallot sorbet and fondue

The next course is Caramelized Onions with Shallot Sorbet and Fondue. Again a rich taste of cheese, slight sweetness from the onion and a perfect combination with the juicy wine. It’s really exciting to see how products, so simple and everyday at first glance, literally come to life on the plate. Wonderful Chef Flavio!

Podio Langhe Nebbiolo DOCG 2021
Podio Langhe Nebbiolo DOCG 2021 and I :), I would recommend you with the article about Tenuta Carretta , where we write about their wines

The flight of traditions

Tajarin is a traditional egg pasta in Piedmont, you will find it almost everywhere. It is in the shape of extremely thin and fine strips, similar to linguini, but smaller and thinner. It’s a mystery how they manage to make them so tiny and delicate, but at the same time so elastic, without sticking or tearing. We really liked them.

Tajarin is a traditional Piedmont egg pasta
Tajarin is a traditional Piedmont egg pasta

Our tajarin tonight is house-made on site and topped with black truffle and hazelnut powder. A wonderful reference to the lands of this part of Italy, where truffles are an indispensable part of the local cuisine.

Here comes a new wine – Bric Paradiso Roero Rosso, again excellently selected for our meal.

Pigeon with potato ball and smoked ricotta cream
Pigeon with potato ball and smoked ricotta cream

Finally, we come to the main course. Today it is pigeon with potato ball and smoked ricotta cream. We have rarely tried pigeon meat and this one is definitely becoming our favorite. Dense but extremely delicate meat, very tender. If you haven’t tried pigeon before, this option might remind you a little of duck breast. The sauce is made with wine and it can’t be otherwise.

A tropical finish with a quinine aftertaste

Somewhat surprisingly, but pleasantly refreshing, the dessert arrives. It has a strong tropical undertone. Pina colada parfait with pineapple, honey and coconut and a delicate mint drizzle. Shortly after the main dessert, magnificent trays of chocolates and fruits appear on the table. Melon flavored with gin and apple with… well, something else. Finally, we cannot resist the temptation to try the grappa from Barolo Canubi, aged 10 years in oak.

Pina colada parfait with pineapple, honey and coconut and a delicate mint drizzle
Pina colada parfait with pineapple, honey and coconut and a delicate mint drizzle
Chocolates and fruit. Melon flavored with gin and apple with… well, something else
Chocolates and fruit. Melon flavored with gin and apple with… well, something else

We finish the wonderful evening in the cozy lobby, enjoying a fortified Barolo Chinato wine, again by Tenuta Carretta. Barolo Chinato is a style that dates back to the late 19th century and was created by a Piedmontese pharmacist for medicinal purposes. It is a Barolo wine fortified with an infusion of quinine in neutral grape alcohol and herbs such as cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, etc. The wine is fortified with the infusion and aged in oak for at least 6 months. Barolo Chinato is a special product, not exactly the usual dessert wine, and you need a special mood and enthusiasm for it. But what better occasion than a great dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant?

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