5 Italian springtime veggies we love and where to eat them


5 Italian springtime veggies we love and where to eat them

19 April 2017

The secret to great Italian cuisine is fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Fresh, vibrant spring greens are welcome ingredients after the winter months, and the best chefs know how to play up their flavors in great seasonal dishes. Here are five Italian springtime vegetables and the fine dining restaurants where the chefs know exactly how to best highlight their spring flavors.

5 Italian springtime vegetables and top restaurants that feature them

Asparagus at La Gallina

Crema di patate, uovo, asparagi “Creamed potatoes, egg, and asparagus” at La Gallina Restaurant of Villa Sparina in Gavi (Piedmont) La Gallina ristorante - © Villa Sparina La Gallina ristorante - © Villa Sparina

Asparagus and eggs is one of the simplest yet most delicious spring pairings. The tender asparagus combined with the richness of a poached egg is a perfect match for a glass of Gavi, made from 100% cortese grape, from Villa Sparina. La Gallina is a wonderful restaurant among the vineyards of Gavi in southern Piedmont, near the border of Liguria, with a superb view of the surrounding nature. The menu is creative but not aggressively so, the contrast between flavors is delicate, and the atmosphere is relaxing, especially on the terrace during these beautiful spring days. Their recipes are inspired by the traditional cuisine of Piedmont and the search for natural, genuine ingredients. For a truly unforgettable experience, reserve a room for an overnight stay and enjoy the terrific panorama illuminated with the first light of day. And of course, you can’t skip the winery visit, for Villa Sparina is not only a resort with a restaurant, but a fine cellar as well. Take a guided tour and sip their signature Gavi.

Broad Beans at Locanda del Pilone

Calamari with broad beans - © Locanda del Pilone Calamari with broad beans - © Locanda del Pilone

Calamari ripieno, melanzane, fave, e mentuccia “Stuffed squid, aubergines, broad beans, and pennyroyal” at Locanda del Pilone, near Alba (Piedmont) Young broad beans in the spring are tender and delicately bitter, ideal to contrast strong flavors or rich dishes. In this seafood and eggplant dish, which could play too close to wiltingly soft, the broad beans add an essential, crunchy texture and pop of color. Chef Federico Gallo always presents vibrant and exciting dishes that are in tune with the season and its products. He interprets traditional recipes with creativity, while remaining steadfast to pillar values: the purity of ingredients, the high quality of raw materials, and balanced, clean flavors.

Artichokes at Nove

Carciofi d’Albenga, olio extra vergine d’oliva taggiasco ROI, nocciola Tonda delle Langhe, sale Maldon “Albenga artichokes, Taggiasca Extra virgin olive oil by ROI, Piedmont hazelnuts, and Maldon salt" at Nove Restaurant in Villa della Pergola, Alassio (Liguria) © Villa della Pergola © Nove Restaurant, Villa della Pergola

Artichokes, a Mediterranean staple, have been known for centuries to have important detox functions. Plus, they’re delicious. In this tasty version, their bitterness is balanced by the sweetness of hazelnuts and savoriness of Taggiasca olives. Artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but when its flavors are complemented by other foods, then of course you can enjoy a glass or two. This Ligurian dish beckons for a Vermentino from the same region, such as Poggio dei Gorleri’s Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vermentino D.O.C. Nove is an elegant fine dining establishment on the hill overlooking Alassio, Liguria, located within the luxury Villa della Pergola, a house with magnificent gardens and a spectacular view over the bay. Chef Giorgio Servetto will take your palate on a journey between the hills and the sea of Liguria, passing through France and Piedmont. He uses local ingredients from Liguria with an emphasis on simplicity and seasonal flavors.

Green Peas at Il Cascinale Nuovo

Gambero rosso, piselli, pistacchio, e lampone Red shrimp, peas, pistachio and raspberry” at Il Cascinale Nuovo in Isola d’Asti of the Monferrato (Piedmont) Green peas are among the most popular and versatile of spring vegetables, suitable for a great variety of recipes. In this colorful dish, fresh peas are creamed and paired with raw red shrimp. A delicate finish of raspberry, pistachio, and wild fennel is such a delicious and unusual flavor combination, you’ll savor every bite. Red shrimp, peas, pistachio and raspberry - © Il Cascinale Nuovo Red shrimp, peas, pistachio and raspberry - © Il Cascinale Nuovo

Cascinale Nuovo is a well-known restaurant in Monferrato led by the Ferretto brothers. The genuineness of local products mixed with unusual Oriental flavors generates a unique fusion of different cultures. The main room has an impeccable, minimalist design and mise en place, and in spring and summer, you’ll want to linger in the large outdoor space, lulled by the chic poolside atmosphere.

Wild Fennel at D'O

Wild Fennel - by Brett Wild Fennel - by Brett

Animelle, senape e finocchietto selvatico “Sweetbread, mustard and wild fennel” at D’O in Milan (Lombardy) Wild fennel is a bright and intriguing herb that adds flavor, color, and an unmistakable aroma to dishes. In this case, its refreshing scent plays nicely against the fatty richness of sweetbreads. This course is an example of “Cucina POP” by Davide Oldani, a philosophy that “comes from the desire to blend the essential with the well-made, to create something good that is accessible, to combine tradition with innovation.” These elements come together for a cuisine that is light but flavorful, healthy and varied, simple but surprising.