Tre Galline Brings Authentic Northern Italian Cuisine to Baja’s Wine Country
To me, memories of Italy include hot summer breezes tinged with the herbal scents of rosemary and basil; the savory aroma of fresh-baked pizza and pasta, and afternoon hours enjoyed over crisp white or fruity red wines. I relived these memories with my friend Jo Ann Knox just the other day at Angelo Dal Bon’s Tre Galline restaurant in Baja California’s wine country, near Ensenada, feeling for all the world like I was on a hillside in Italy, enjoying the delicious bounties of a rich and wondrous land.
Tre Galline, which will be open until early fall, shares a vineyard-blanketed hillside with Villa Montefiori, one of Baja’s famed wineries that produces an array of Italian varietal wines — perfect for pairing with the fine northern Italian cuisine of restaurant/owner/executive chef Angelo Dal Bon.
And pair, we did. We began our feast with foccacio dipped in Montefiori olive oil and a velvety balsamic vinegar. As we munched, we had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Angelo and his wife and restaurant co-owner Magda Valpiana, and meeting Villa Montefiori’s owner, Paolo Paoloni. All are from Italy, and Chef Angelo is delighted to bring his northern Italian heritage — the Lake Garda district, between Venice and Milan — to work in concert with the Paolini family wines.
Soon, we progressed to an herb-fresh salad with off-the-vine cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced cucumber. It was the perfect way to cleanse our palates and prep for the awesome tempura-fried squash blossoms stuffed with delicate cheese that came next.
By now, the late afternoon breezes in the Valle de Guadalupe were making the painted chicken whirlygigs spin like mad, and the valley was beginning to take on a golden glow. As were we, thanks to the generous pours of wine we had enjoyed. I do not believe it was this sense of satisfied well-being nor the vigorous wind that sent me head-over-heels in love with the next dish: Chef Angelo’s signature tortellinis. Now, I confess, I was so teary-eyed-in-love with these little gems that I didn’t quite catch everything involved in their creation, but what I can tell you is that the pasta was so light and delicate, and the cheese fillings so pleasantly savory, that I think it would be fair to say it is the best pasta dish I have ever tasted!
Wish it were that I could say we stopped eating…and drinking. But our taste buds were pretty much doing the ‘Mambo Italiano’ at this point, and it was not until much later, after the succulent seared sea bass — that we toasted our last toast, drank a strong coffee and ate our final flan — well, panna cotta, to be exact. And, most likely to the staff’s great relief, we were able to stand up and make our ways home.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you are visiting northern or southern Baja: Tre Galline is in the Valle de Guadalupe — on the north side (the free road), west of Las Nubes, at Villa Montefiori winery — for the rest of this summer and into fall seven days-a-week (noon until 9 p.m.), and it is always in Todos Santos, in Baja Sur. And the really good news is that Angelo and Magda are, in the hospitable Italian way, ready to welcome you with open arms. Best to make reservations, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting them at (612) 119-9718 or (612) 145-0274.
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