Come visit us, these are the final weeks." A historic restaurant in the Langhe closes after 35 years

Jun 18 2024, 15:41
Vera and Cesare Lo Nardo of La Luna nel Pozzo in Neive announced it on social media. A story of passion, courage, and dedication spanning 35 years is now coming to an end

by Piermichele Gamba

“And at the bottom of the well, the trembling moon reflects, telling of an extraordinary place among the hills of Langa…” This is how the entry in the Ristoranti d'Italia guide dedicated to La Luna nel Pozzo in Neive began just twenty years ago. Neive is a splendid village in the province of Cuneo, to the right of the Tanaro River and in Barbaresco land. The restaurant had already been receiving acclaim since 1990 when a couple—he a doctor and she a biologist—decided to radically change their lives, diving into the world of pots and bottles driven by passion. They arrived not as youngsters, with backgrounds in medicine, management, and teaching. Vera and Cesare were, and still are, great enthusiasts who found their moon in the well here in Neive. Now, they are about to enjoy their well-deserved rest.

La Luna nel Pozzo di Neive: the welcome and the cuisine

Simple in architecture, warm and welcoming in furnishings, with white tablecloths, dressers, mirrors, and candelabras like an old-fashioned dining room, the restaurant overlooking Piazza Italia expressed (and will continue to for a few more weeks) in its form the empathy and sense of familiarity with which Cesare always hosted his customers. Many of these customers have become friends over time, sharing courtesy and professionalism. From Vera, who became a cook not in her youth but with a natural talent, one could expect not just "simple" delicacies, but dishes and flavors born of a rare sensitivity in finding balance and maximizing the noble raw materials of a territory rich in excellence. The dishes were sincere and understandable, lovingly crafted and faithful to tradition while also incorporating personal touches, such as the addition of a spice or some original combination.

Bollito misto in broth to brink and other stories

And so we have the album of memories from the many visits over these long years: starting from the distant past with the spiced goose jambonette stuffed with apple vinegar cabbage salad, the cod fillet with Spello bean salad and onion cream, the green cabbage tortelloni with anchovy and hazelnut sauce, not to mention the legendary "macarun del fret" with lamb and artichoke ragù. And still, the quail stuffed with foie gras with figs in Port and Tropea red onions or the venison rack in Nebbiolo sauce with farro, chestnuts, and specked prunes. Moving forward, we recall oven-gratinated tripe with almonds, house-smoked pork fillet with foot salad, foie gras, pomegranate, and tzatziki sauce, squid ink lasagne with asparagus, peas, and prawns (the sea had its due place too), monkfish in a light sweet and sour sauce, duck foie gras pâté with peaches, prawns, candied peppers, and Moscato passito reduction, potato gnocchi with octopus soup. Of course, tradition was not neglected: hand-chopped raw meat, hazelnut tagliatelle with pepper and anchovy cream, bollito misto served in its broth (to be drunk afterwards!) with delicious sauces and cannellini bean salad, and free-range chicken on a polenta crostone with mushroom flan in lemongrass sauce.

The message that Vera and Cesare posted on the restaurant's Facebook page

Thirty-five years ago, we embarked on an incredible adventure: a passion for Piedmontese cuisine, a relentless pursuit of quality ingredients, and a love for food culture have brought us immense joy and satisfaction, helped us achieve great milestones, and presented us with numerous challenges.

La Luna nel Pozzo has thrived thanks to the enthusiasm and affection of you, our customers, who have returned year after year, season after season, to visit us and share wonderful moments of conviviality.

Time passes, and the moment has come for us to rest. We thank everyone who made this dream possible; it has been a true pleasure to share this journey with our loyal customers and the invaluable collaborators who have supported us over the years.

If you would like to visit us, these are the final weeks to do so.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Vera and Cesare Lo Nardo

Vera and Cesare's Farewell

Age has its rules, perhaps not always in line with biology (which Vera could surely explain), but coupled with the challenging times for staff availability and generational changes, the adventure, like every good fairy tale, comes to an end. Vera and Cesare are putting away their tools and work clothes to don those of well-earned rest. Will there be another well? It's not known, at least for now. Surely their well was imaginary and magical, but it so happened that upon leaving, full and satisfied, looking up, one would see a moon, full in the Langa sky, seemingly smiling.

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