Oh Italy, how I do miss you.
It's been a little over a year since we visited the Piedmont region in Italy, and I'm already itching to go back. The scenery was breathtaking everywhere, the wine was fascinating, and the food was simply incredible. We even went truffle hunting in the night!
Recently, Bryan mentioned to me that Erbaluce, a lovely Italian restaurant in the Bay Village neighborhood in Boston, actually serves food with Piemontese flavors. Chef Charles Draghi comes from a Piemontese family, and is influenced by the region's flavors and use of fresh ingredients. He marries that with his French culinary training, resulting in the elegant food you find at Erbaluce.
Interestingly, one of my favorite dishes from Erbaluce is actually not a traditional Piemontese dish. It's Pasta Carbonara, which actually comes from Rome. Chef Draghi makes an interesting version with a duck egg, and it's phenomenal. I don't typically like carbonara because many restaurants either make it with cream or they use bacon instead of guanciale. The true, authentic Roman version simply uses high quality eggs, lots of Pecorino Romano, guanciale, and pepper. I fell in love with it when I visited Rome back in 2012.
Coming back, I found that it was hard to find a version like the one I had in Rome.
I even resorted to making my own.
And then I discovered the version at Erbaluce (pictured at top). Yes, it's different in that it uses a duck egg, but it's one of the best versions of this dish I've ever had in the States. The flavors are right. I can taste the interplay between the fresh ground pepper, cheese, and the egg. The dish totally transports me back to Rome.
Definitely get this dish if you're a fan of traditional Roman carbonara. I really think it's one of the best.
Of course, all of the other food at the restaurant is generally very good. Since this is just a Snapshot, I won't be describing each dish in extreme detail. The menu changes daily anyway, so it's likely you won't see any of the dishes in the post on the menu by the time you visit (I went in the fall of 2016).
For example, at the time there were still heirloom tomatoes, which were the perfect companion to fresh creamy burrata.
A side dish of roasted carrots with shaved Parmesan cheese was simple but elegant.
The pastas are fresh, and the bolognese is excellent.
Chef Draghi builds his sauces out of vegetables, aromatics, and the meat itself, not with butter or heavy cream. This makes his dishes less heavy and they showcase the flavors of the natural ingredients more. You can see this in the photos of the roast chicken and the pork loin that we ordered (all were very good).
Erbaluce is one of those restaurants that I really like, but sometimes forget about in the midst of all the trendy new restaurants openings left and right. It's been around for awhile, but it's definitely still fresh, changing up the menu all the time. It's also a wonderfully quaint, warm, and cozy restaurant that really serves excellent food. Worth considering for your next date, or maybe Valentine's Day!