18 Jun Osteria Il Melograno
The Osteria Il Melograno is located just on the central square of Terruggia, a small cosy village just a few kilometres away from the town of Casale. Here is where we meet Antonella, who leads us inside. At the first glance, we are impressed by the elegance of the main room, magnificently renovated, furnished and decorated in the traditional Piedmontese style, with tuff bricks and wooden roof.
The Osteria Il Melograno offers a lunch menu, carte menu and degustation menu. They serve meat as well, but the vegetarian or vegan offer is very wide, high quality and always surprising, with a special attention to intolerances like gluten-free, milk-free dishes etc.
We take a seat at a table and start the interview. Antonella and her husband Carlo, the chef of the restaurant, tell us the history of this place, born from a passion for their work. Il Melograno opened in 2001 after a deep and expensive renovation of the old cascina building that belongs to Carlo’s family, after a long experience in the catering field, to express Carlo’s creativity for cooking.
From the very beginning, they chose to differentiate from the mainstream, offering an à la carte menu with traditional but revised dishes, as Slow Food teaches. The first guests were surprised by that; in fact, the common for the traditional Monferrinian restaurants is to have a huge menu with 7-8 starters, 2-3 first courses, and so on… so that after such a meal you are over-full if you can come to the end. For this reason, some locals at the beginning didn’t understand their cuisine, they said.
“We cook more vegetables than many of other restaurants“, they also tell us. All the ingredients, where possible, are bought following the rhythm of the seasons, local, organic. “Coming from farmer’s families, for us, organic products are a common choice, not just an exception“. While we are there, indeed, comes a guy from the village bringing fresh violet asparagus.
We pass then to visit the other rooms: the terrace, with an indoor and an outdoor sides, open on a magnificent view of the hills and the sunset; the downstairs room, used for the lunch-break and painted with warm and soft colors; the cellar, with a good choice of wines; the small yard outside perfect for summer aperitives; and the small garden with herbs used for the preparation of the dishes, and the grapefruit tree, from where the name of the restaurant comes from. We can notice a precise care for the details, and cleanness.
We are now invited to taste something, all vegan, on the outdoor terrace, watching the sun going slowly down. To accompany the food, we are offered a glass of Grignolino wine, from La Casaccia. The starters we are served are typical but surprisingly reinterpreted: a Russian Salad with veg-mayonnaise, Friciulin (small omelette) made of spinach and chickpeas flour with a tasty avocado cream, and a surprising Salad of Raw Asparagus and hazelnut oil. We are eating with Antonella, and she tells that the real soul of this place is Carlo with his cooking genius. The food is very well accompanied by the delicious home-made bread: white, black or with seeds. Everything here, except the grissini they say, is home-made, even the ice-cream (also vegan).
Next, we try a Risotto with Curry and mini carrot-cubes, spicy and with an oriental flavour. The last dish is very high level: a slice of toasted bread on an Asparagus and Oil Cream, surmounted by a potato and leek cream and topped with four boiled asparaguses.
The silence here is impressive: Antonella says that, after a long time living above a 24h petrol station, she couldn’t sleep here, because there was too much silence. They think that sometimes it can even get annoying, but for people from the city, this calm is like a paradise!
To top the meal, we can taste their choice of desserts: a small glass with Creamy Yogurt, the Chocolate Delight, the Red Berries Sorbetto, and the Three Chocolates Cupola. A cup of hot, perfumed ginger tea closes the dinner and warms us up on this cool spring night.
Osteria Il Melograno
Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 9, 15030 Terruggia AL
Phone: +39 0142 401531
Mobile: +39 347 1329411
Mobile: +39 338 8098126
Written by Franco Agnolotto | Photography by Elio Lussu