Review: La Fermata*, Alessandria, Italy: Michelin Star Comfort Food in Piedmont
La Fermata: Michelin Star Comfort Food in Alessandria
La Fermata, 1 antipasti, 1 primi course, 1 main course, 1 dessert, 1 seafood tasting menu, 2 aperitivos, 1 bottle white wine, 1 glass red wine, 1 coffee: €190 (US$224, £162). Resort La Fermata, Str. Bolla, 2, 15122 Spinetta Marengo, Alessandria, Piemonte, Italy. +390131617508. http://www.ristorantelafermata.it/. Antipasti: €15-20, primi piatti: €18-€20, main courses: €15-€32, desserts: €14. Piccolo tasting menu: €60, seafood tasting menu: €70
Written by EatGoSee // See other food reviews here.
La Fermata serves divine Piemontesi, Italian comfort food modernised within its minimalist dining room. Worth a journey through leafy Piemonte.
Consoling Italian fine dining in near-casual surroundings
Stuffed salt baked onion, gnocchi with courgettes & agnolotti Alessandria are must order dishes
Excellent local wine list under €30 a bottle
Main courses are good but not as exciting as the other courses
La Fermata: Michelin Star Comfort Food in Alessandria
Inside La Fermata’s dining room
La Fermata is seriously good eating. A refuge in Spinetta Marengo’s countryside for city slickers retreating from nearby Alessandria. Italians that dressed in impossibly chic casual deciding between the Val Grue potato gnocchi with an Angelo Croce gorgonzola foam (€18) or jump straight into a main course of pork fillet marinated with spices (€23). Men dressed in sockless, suede shoes and crisp white shirts observing the three-buttons undone protocol swill Nebbiolo d’Alba and snuffle veal sweetbreads sopping with roasted beets butter (€30). It is all scuse scuse, allora vediamo.
La Fermata’s entrance into an 18th century farmhouse from the car park (first); Inside diners adjacent to artwork (second)
La Fermata is serious about its food and relaxed where it matters
Our main waitress quickly translated La Fermata’s menu into English (via Google Translate) when I booked only two hours before dinner. Yes, I was lucky. She amuses us all evening but moves with the speed of a woman whose eyes have seen too much. Imagine Jo Brand with all the athleticism of Eeyore, just as charming and exceptionally well-informed about Piemontesi wine. Hold that image.
La Fermata’s menus include two tasting menus and a la carte options normally in Italian but translated for us!
La Fermata offers a few menu options
La Fermata glides effortlessly through comfort foods. The menu at its best conveys the kitchen’s clear understanding that only a few ingredients provide equal parts pleasure and flavour.
My sublime starter of salt-baked, stuffed onion is a delectable crash of comfort foods (€15). The suave, cheesy roux filling achieves both the flavour and texture of mac and cheese fortified with a Sunday roast onion stuffing. I am not normally allowed this much satisfaction in public places.
An Italian lady of advanced years once told me that the best gnocchi should be as light as angel’s farts. La Fermata achieves celestial flatulent nirvana. Mrs EatGoSee’s luxuriant gnocchi pillows are as fluffy and light as angel’s farts, bolstered with anchovy, umami-richness and bedsheet thin discs of sweet, in-season courgettes.
La Fermata salt baked and stuffed onion (first); Gnocchi with courgette in an anchovy broth
A hot buttered heap of agnolotti Alessandrini is deeply scented with aged parmesan (€18). Few things soothe like hot parcels of thin pasta stuffed with gutsy red meat wallowing in a bath of emulsified parmesan butter. It appeals to my inner Id.
Jo Brand sidles up to offer me a glass of Barbera d’Alba to pair with my main course pleasantly interrupting the Roero Arneis of my dreams.
La Fermata stuffed traditional Agnolotti (first); A superb bottle of white white recommended by our server for under €30
A final dessert of apple pie layered in crisp, filo-like pastry is warmed with an almond cream studded with sweet raisins. Our ‘apple pie’ is crowned with a ball of milky ice cream. It is the best piece of Christmas available in July for €14.
La Fermata’s crisp apple tart with ice cream and almond cream, a must order dessert (first); A small bag of chocolate covered popcorn given to guests when they leave
La Fermata loses a little lustre with the main courses
Not everything delights in equal measures. All of the dishes are competent; yet, not all are exuberant. Mrs EatGoSee’s seared main course with courgette and silky potato puree demonstrates clear technical ability. Perfectly cooked fish, suave potato puree but just lacks the imagination and whomp of the previous courses. It feels pedestrian in comparison which disappoints on its own merits and as a main course.
My guinea fowl suffers the same way. A challenging bird to get right is executed like a master class. Crispy, rendered skin and glistening, moist flesh served with a few slabs of courgette and parcels of spinach amuse. The mains complete the task but do not rise to the echelons previously achieved.
La Fermata’s guinea fowl main course was superbly cooked but did not delight as much as other courses (first); the fish with potato puree and spinach was also capable but did not have the same imagination as previous courses
Would I Return to La Fermata?
Mrs EatGoSee and I leave arm in arm. La Fermata stands out as a highlight meal after 3 glorious weeks eating incredibly well in Piemonte. This includes a nearly five-hour tour d’force dinner at Piazza Duomo, one of the world’s best restaurants.
There is an accessible ease to La Fermata that makes me want to return. The engaging service, the outstanding wine list under €30 and comfort food satisfying to an almost cellular level.
I would return to La Fermata, and I highly recommend you check it out too.
Who Should Go To La Fermata?
Comfort food lovers looking for a refined, modern interpretation of regional Italian classics. Michelin star enthusiasts looking for some of the best Michelin guide food in Piemonte. Diners in the Alessandria area looking to get out to the countryside for dinner. You only have one night or budget for a ‘good dinner’ in the area.