This family restaurant moved location in 2008, to a spot above their own vineyard. The large windows have a fine view out over the Langhe countryside, and there is a rooftop terrace in the summer. It has been in the same ownership for over forty years in total. Gian Bovio started the restaurant, and now runs it with his son Allessandro.
The wine list is extensive, with over thirty different champagnes alone, and a vast selection of Barolo. There is a wide range of prices, with one bottle priced at just €16, and lots of choice around €20. Example labels were Hugel Riesling Tradition 2007 at €36 for a bottle you can find in the high street for about €26, Rinaldi Nebbiolo 2014 at €50 for a bottle whose retail price is €45, and Massolino Margheria Barolo 2010 at €80 for a bottle that will set you back €85 in a shop. The kindly pricing continues as you climb the list. Vietti Rocche Barolo 2009 €150 for a wine that retails at €123, and Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc 2008 was €300 yet this wine will cost you slightly more than this in a shop.
Bovio is perched on a hillside above a vineyard, about a twenty minute drive up a winding road from Alba. The dining room has a fine view out over the countryside, but when we went in November (truffle season) the place was wreathed in mist, as it usually is at this time of year. The fog is conducive to the truffles, so is a price worth paying.
The meal we had was deliberately simple, with dishes designed to show off the local Alba truffles. We were able to choose those that we wanted from a large tray, the truffles having been in the ground just two hours earlier. The fresher the truffles, the better the fragrance, which is worth remembering next time you are tempted to order white truffles in far flung parts of the world.
An initial nibble was a sort of Italian take on Spanish omelette, with potatoes and egg. This was simple but very enjoyable (14/20). The first dish was ravioli with an egg filling, topped with white truffles. The ravioli was excellent, and although this is a very simple dish it was most enjoyable (16/20). This was followed by tagliolini, which had terrific texture. Again this was a simple dish but a lovely platform for the superb white truffles (16/20). Next was porcini fondue, a rich dish but one where the quality of the porcini shone through (15/20). The main course was Fassone beef with violet potatoes, and this was the only misstep of the meal, the beef of good quality but cooked too long, so definitely on the wrong side of medium (11/20). For dessert we had a panna cotta, again a platform for the truffles, but the panna cotta itself is worth commenting on. The texture was glorious, silky and wobbly, genuinely top notch (easily 17/20).
The bill, with copious amounts of lovely wine and truffles, came to €248 (£210) a head. The food itself was a mere €47 (£40) before the truffles, which you buy by the gram. This is a bargain given the skill shown in the cooking in all but one course, and if you skipped the truffles and shared a modest bottle of wine then the cost per head would be only about €70 (£59) or so. Service was friendly and relaxed. I thoroughly enjoyed Bovio, the food simple but highly capable, the setting and welcome charming. If you are ever in Alba then make a beeline for it.