As we were wandering through Courmayeur recently, looking for dinner, one restaurant sign jumped out at me. It had an air of fun, deliberate design and almost promised a culinary experience.
Following our noses through cobbled side streets and with a spirit of adventure, we arrived at a promising menu and a dark double door. We stepped through into an uplit, vaulted stone cellar built in 1837, from where the restaurant gets its name. Today decorated with white tablecloths and quirky artwork, the menu belied a tradition of artisanal skill embellished with a modern, creative quirkiness.
Ordering two primi, a secondo to split and half a bottle of excellent local red took the bill to €80 and didn't seem to phase the faultlessly professional and friendly service staff. The basket of small homemade breads was devoured with gusto and the food arrived shortly thereafter.
For the starters, I can only say that the pasta was sublime and contained a ridiculous number of egg yolks per kilogram of flour and the sugo was moreish enough, for its component stock to have spent a good while simmering on the hob. The earthy scent of my partner's truffle and asparagus pasta could be smelt from the other side of the room and was covered in fine, moist shavings of the delicacy.
We had ordered only one main as my partner was already quite full and were asked if she would like a plate to taste some of my dish. We replied in the affirmative but little did we know that two fully plated, half-size mains would arrive. A lovely gesture on behalf of the staff, ensuring that nobody felt left out, that indicates a level of rigour and attention to detail in the kitchen. The slow-cooked lamb on the plate, couldn't have been more tender and was married well with the earthy beetroot tones.
A small coffee later and we were out into the night again, a bit starry eyed and mumbling about the second best meal this year. Thank you ristorante Pierre Alexis 1877, we'll be back.
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