Tasting Notes... Da Noi, Chester
- Credit: Carlo Cerutti
Specialising in the food of the Piedmont region of Italy, Da Noi offers delicious dishes cooked with a light touch, and oh, the wines...
My first foray to a restaurant in 2021 took place the day after the restrictions on indoor dining lifted, and I was so hopeful it would be a good one I was positively quivering with anticipation. For more than half a year I have menu-planned, shopped, cooked and cleared up after almost every single meal served in my home – it was beyond time someone else did the heavy lifting.
Heavy lifting wasn’t going to be a factor in our evening at Da Noi, however, as unlike many an Italian restaurant’s menu, the offering at Da Noi is light, fresh and doesn’t sit weighty by the end of the meal. The restaurant is the baby of husband-and-wife team chef Valentina Aviotti and her husband, Fabrizio Gobbato. Hailing from Turin, the couple were brought to the UK by Bentley, where Fabrizio worked until the end of 2020, when he decided to dedicate his every hour to his wife’s dream – a truly great little restaurant, serving authentic dishes from their region, accompanied by fabulous, impossible to find elsewhere, Piedmonte wines. Winners of the Chester Good Food Award in both 2020 and 2021, and awarded a Michelin Plate in January 2021, Da Noi is in very high-flying company and great things were expected.
We enjoyed a six-course tasting menu, with wine flight – which is definitely the recommended way to discover the quality this restaurant offers. It started with Peperone in Buffala, Buffalo mozzerella stuffed with roasted yellow peppers and accompanied by a sweet, smooth, yellow pepper coulis. Outstanding. It was so good I had to force myself to eat slowly, to savour every mouthful, as I could have inhaled it and missed copious amounts of pleasure. The wine was a delight, a Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Lodoli, and made more so by the knowledge and enthusiasm of Fabrizio, who tours local vineyards on every trip home, bagging the best wines and importing them solely for the restaurant.
Course two was Tartare di Manzo, a beef tartare with essences of cardamom, ginger and clementine. Beautifully prepared and elegantly presented, and accompanied by a very fine red wine, this is a real treat.
Easing us into the main courses was a courgette risotto, draped with burrata cream and scattered with caviar. The balance of flavours is extraordinary; the light, fresh courgette with salty hits of caviar surprisingly good. Next, something that packed a little more punch, in both texture and flavour – Ravioli Ripieni di Mortadella. According to our quite passionate server, mortadella is a sadly overlooked Italian cold cut that deserves way more praise. Indeed, the ravioli was excellent, although I would have preferred a little more of the delicious Pecorino sauce.
We closed with two puddings: Chef Valentina’s signature lemon and almond frangipane – just beautiful, and a cocoa and Amaretti cold pudding, apparently a traditional Piedmonte dish that should definitely be seen on more menus – a proper grown-up bitter chocolate pudding, hailing from Turin, where apparently chocolate-making has been established since the late 18th century. Both were accompanied by a dessert wine, a Santa Cielia Passito Erbaluce DOC Dus, and then a Barolo Chinato Batasiolo. Heaven.
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