Easter is one of our favorite times in the Langhe. Vibrant spring colors pop, buds break in the vineyards, and all that delicious Easter wine and food!
To bring some of Piedmont’s Italian Easter traditions to you, we visited with one of the area’s most popular eateries, Trattoria Bercau in Verduno.
Lunch or dinner, week day or weekend, this rustic, local’s favorite is always packed. We are particularly lucky with Bercau a quick (car or bike) ride away from our Barolo holiday villas, The Monvigliero Vineyard Villas. Like for our Villa’s staff, it is a favorite with our guests.
When you visit the area, book a table to try Bercau in-person. We suggest a Sunday lunch to spend the afternoon grazing on traditional food and sipping on local wine. Don’t plan on a big dinner as you won’t need it.
Piedmont’s Special Easter Lamb with Recipe
Bercau’s owner and chef, Gianni, shares his favorite Easter recipe: Sambucano lamb al forno. Try it at home with wine pairings below.
Piedmont’s Sambucano Lamb
Gianni explains that Sambucano lamb has nothing to do with Sambuca liquor; it is a distinct Piemontese lamb breed – like Tuscany’s Chianina beef or Piedmont’s Fassona veal. The breed orginates from the tiny Cuneo town of Sambuco, home to about 87 inhabitants.
Gianni explains that he selects all the ingredients he uses at home and at Bercau for the quality of raw materials. In the kitchen, he works with the ingredients as little as possible.
Gianni’s Sambucano lamb recipe:
Prep the meat:
- Step 1: Prepare a pesto with thyme (substitute with other herbs as needed), garlic, and extra virgin olive oil (no other spices).
- Step 2: Massage the entire surface of the meat.
- Step 3: Add salt and pepper.
Gianni recommends simple oven roasting, but notes that cooking over an open fire works as well.
- Open fire: Cook slowly for 2.5 to 3 hours; manually turn frequently or with a rotisserie if you have one.
- In the oven:
- Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours at a low temperature 120°C / 248°F-140°C / 284°F degrees.
- To crisp up the skin (while keeping the meat deliciously tender), bring the temperature up to 280°C / 536°F degrees and cook for the last 10-15 minutes.
Contorni (side dish in Italian)
Prepare tasty roasted vegetables with peppers, fennel, onions, a little garlic, and plenty of herbs – fresh if you’ve got them! Roast slowly in the oven or on the stove top over medium heat. For an extra bite, add capers and peperoncino (vary the amount to your heat preference).
More Italian Easter Favorites from Gianni
For dolce, you’ll find the Colomba di Pasqua on nearly every Easter menu in Italy. In Italian, colomba means dove, the universal symbl of peace.
This traditional dessert is a rich, fluffy cake made with the best quality flour, farm-fresh eggs, sugar, butter, natural yeast (30-hour rise). After rising, it is baked into its dove shape, then topped with pearls of sugar and almonds.
While Sunday’s Easter meal is a grand tradition all over the world, maybe Italy’s favorite Easter meal is Monday’s Pasquetta when everyone fires up the barbecue and gathers for another day of feasting. For this, Gianni loves ribs. Besides pork ribs, he tries different lamb cuts as well as tagliata di Fassona.
Gianni notes that while barbecue is not the typical way of cooking in Piedmont (that being stewing), it is something the Piemontese do well by using the most important meat cuts to make it extra special.
If you make it to the area for Easter, dine at Bercau. They offer a fixed menu with a variety of hot and cold antipasti, a couple pasta dishes, risotto, and lamb followed by their artisan Colomba. The Colomba as well as giant chocolate eggs are shared amongst guests and tables as a symbol of luck and good things the rest of the year.
Easter Wine Pairing
Of course, it depends on what you cook, but Gianni recommends the following Easter wine pairings:
- Meat: Definitely a red wine.
- Gianni suggests nebbiolo – a nice Barolo, Barbaresco or Langhe Nebbiolo.
- Barbecue: A great pair with barbera goes perfectly thanks to its tantalizing acidity and bright fruits.
- Pelaverga: Indigenous to Verduno, a light red with bright red fruits and white pepper notes, making it a great pair with meats and barbecue.
- Vegetables and fish: Gianni suggests a fruity favorita, a timorasso aged about 5 years or even a vermentino from the neighboring region of Liguria.
Trattoria Bercau is a family-style restaurant with a heart as big as its seemingly endless menu. Reservations recommended for lunch or dinner, week day or weekend.
- Open daily (outside of the pandemic):
- Lunch: 12:30–2:30PM
- Dinner: 8–10:30PM
- Reservations recommended: +39 0172 470243
- Website: bercau.it
- Facebook: Trattoria dai Bercau
- Instagram: @trattoriadaibercau
Let us know your favorite Easter wine below!
Buona Pasqua a tutti!