Ristorante da Cesare is a unique place where the chef is also an artist, but not only his plates are the canvases, as Cesare Giaccone also paints real art. Scattered throughout the cook-cum-chef’s home-based restaurant are his numerous paintings, sculptures and drawings along with other artists he likes.
Hand-painted menu at Ristorante da Cesare
Even the daily degustation menu is hand-painted, making each dining experience at Ristorante da Cesare a true indulgence of all human senses. Ask any winemaker in the region and he/she will surely have fond memories of a dinner at Cesare’s house. Even the Gaja family  in from time to time. That is to say, it is better to bring your own bottle since the wine selection of bottles scattered on shelves, some not even properly chilled, is quite limiting for a wine-producing region.
Cesare with his garden produce
Downstairs there is a little messy ‘gallery’ and a studio-in-one, so if you need to use the restrooms peak at this babel of creativity or – to say it diplomatically – the art in motion. Dining at da Cesare is a very personal affair driven by enthusiasm of the eighty-something chef who has been cooking for almost 50 years now.
Hand-made fresh ravioli at Ristorante da Cesare
His love for local ingredients, some of which he grows at his backyard garden or forages in nearby forests, while the rest he pursues from local markets and farmers he knows personally. His dog is trained for truffle searching, so himself Cesare pursues these globally celebrated underground mushrooms.
Only seasonal ingredients are used in his artistic pursuits on each plate. Now, in the fall, we were served a wonderful dish of cauliflower with Cauliflower with chestnut cream sauce and autumn truffles.
Before came a bowl of hand-made fresh ravioli filled with herbs and minced meat in a bay-leaf broth. Superb!
Cauliflower with chestnut cream sauce and autumn truffles
Looking almost molecular cuisine-like was the Polenta with raw egg yolk, chestnut sauce dusted generously with almost powdery parmesan.
These dishes may sound rich, but the portions are very small and generally the chef tries to balance the typically hearty character of Piedmontese cuisine with modern lighter touches. As if with a stroke of his brush he added a bit of delicate pastel to an intensely dark, heavy colour.
Polenta with chestnut sauce and egg yolk
Every evening you are set for a surprise as the menu changes according to the availability of local seasonal ingredients and the chef’s muse casting a spell of creativity upon him.
The only stalwart of the menu is a grilled goat. My first ever! I was not in love with the bony, rather bland tasting meat, but my sister’s boyfriend ate for four of us, so he must loved it. Large chops of the animal are being roasted in an open fireplace inside the restaurant. The flames make the ambiance particularly homey and cosy when outside it is cold, which in Piedmont is usually from October till April.
Fire-roasted goat
Be prepared for a winding road up the hills of Piemonte Alta, the area where also the best cheese in the area is made. It is worth the headache though for this particularly amicable, almost familial encounter with the local creative legend.
Cesare walks around the tables and makes sure that you like every course he cooked back in the small kitchen. Each guest gets a star-worthy attention and in particular the ladies, since Cesare is a true Italian not sparing his compliments.
The chef Cesare regularly greeting his guests
Address: 9 Via Umberto I, Albaretto della Torre, 12050, Italy
Contact: +39 01 7352 0147
Opening hours: Call when you want to dine there, because Cesare opens when he wants and when he has enough reservations to motivate him. Truly an artist!