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Nizza Monferrato: La Signora in Rosso

Via Crova, 2 , Phone: 0141793350
Closing day: Monday

Reviewed by: Rob H from NY, review #3320

When: 2009

The regional enoteca for the Nizza area, but the quality of the food, service, and overall experience put it in a class with much fancier restaurants.

On a recent (early September 2009) evening, my wife and I went to La Signora in Rosso on the recommendation of the owners of our excellent B&B in nearby Fontanile, La Granica, who also booked the reservation for us. During the warmer months, the dinner service at La Signora takes place outdoors in a large, airy, pretty courtyard, with a simple but still stylish ambiance. The friendly and attentive wait staff provided the kind of helpful, un-fussy service I only wish we could find more often at home in New York City.

We opted to try a few different wines by the glass (not a problem here, as long as you don’t expect to tap into the higher end Barolos and Barbarescos), and when I asked the wine steward (whose name I can’t recall, unfortunately) for some suggestions for fairly local wines, he chose for us a wonderful Cortese from Cascina Giovinale, followed by a Barbera (“Cremosina”) from Bersano, whose buildings are just a stone’s throw away from the enoteca. He left both bottles at our table, along with a second red, with instructions to simply try them and see what we liked.

The menu is fairly small, as you’d expect at an enoteca, but had plenty of variety. We enjoyed the entire meal, but the real standouts were our appetizers. Both were variations on a sformato (flan), Julie’s the more typical, with zucchini and a creamy sauce, mine an “antico budino” with a sauce of porcini mushrooms. Since this was just our second night in Italy, and our stomachs hadn’t yet adjusted to the time change (and since we’re both vegetarians), we followed this only with pasta dishes, a pasta al forno with peas and gnocchi with pesto, both simple but very well-prepared and tasty. For dessert, Julie chose hazelnut gelato, and I had a hazelnut torte, with espresso and a wonderful grappa from the nearby Berta distillery (I wish I’d caught the name of the variety, since even Julie liked this one – very smooth, somewhat fruity, and amber in color).

The best part of the whole experience was the bill: 45 euros for appetizers, first courses, dessert, four glasses of wine, coffee and grappa. I had to double-check with the waiter to make sure I was reading his handwriting correctly, and that the 4 was not a 6! Maybe this is just the reaction of a New Yorker used to paying through the nose for a meal like this, but in my view this was incredible value – the food, service, and ambiance were all at a level to be expected from much fancier restaurants.

As others have noted here on Slow Travel Italy, Nizza Monferrato is a working-class town, and as such many travelers might bypass it in favor of other, more well-known and tourist-oriented towns in the area – but we enjoyed this comfortable, relaxed, and un-touristy vibe, and anyone visiting the Monferrato should put a meal at La Signora in Rosso on their itinerary.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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