A taste of Turin
Where to go and what to eat in the capital of Piedmont.
The city of historic coffee houses, chocolates, agnolotti and bonet: Turin is an Italian gourmet destination par excellence, where tradition and innovation meet - on your plate and in your stomach!
Turin has the greatest number of historic coffee houses in the whole of Italy. These late 18th and early 19th century masterpieces, where Italy's intellectuals, philosophers and politicians regularly met (and meet) conserve all their period charm; in the form of ornate, guilt-framed mirrors, elaborate stucco work, wood paneling, and seats and benches, upholstered in the highest quality leather and velvet.
The oldest of Turin's coffee houses, which dates back to 1763 is in Piazza della Consolata. Today locals and tourists still head to "Al Bicerin" for a mug of thick, hot chocolate or a shot of "bicerin": a deliciously sweet concoction made from chocolate, coffee and cream.
Piazza San Carlo boasts two historic coffee houses: the San Carlo, inaugurated in 1822, and the Torino, which first opened its doors to the caffeine-addicted public in 1903. Although it was not until the 1950's that Mokita and Neuv Caval d'Brons opened for business, in no time at all they too were attracting an elite clientele of film stars and royals.
For an authentically noble nibble, head to the 18th century Regia Frutteria in the Royal Palace and the Caffè Reale. The House of Savoy's collection of precious china, safely locked away in glass display cabinets, provides a suitably impressive backdrop as you sip your Caffè Savoia, a coffee, topped with cream, cocoa powder and a sprinkling of cinnamon, which is traditionally served with a "bignola" pastry or a dish of zabaione, this latter whisked up according to the original 18th century recipe.
If a caffeine and art combination appeals, stop for coffee at the Veranda di Juvarra café in the Museum of Ancient Art in Palazzo Madama.
Drink and Eataly
Coffee is not the only drink for which the capital of Piedmont is famous. It was here, back in 1786, in his bar in Piazza Castello, that Benedetto Carpano had the brilliant idea of adding a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices to his white wine and thus created Vermouth - now one of the symbols of the city.
Eataly has been created in the old Carpano factory in the Lingotto district. This is one of the largest food halls in the world. Here visitors can taste and purchase the finest of the country's gastronomic produce, as well as participate in fascinating cooking courses and food and wine orientated conferences. The restaurant Guido per Eataly-Casa Vicina provides the perfect pit-stop for those keen to experience an exciting new version of the region's traditional dishes.
A question of class
Wonderful things happen when Piedmont's aristocratic culinary traditions meet those of the region's working class: when offal is combined with sweet semolina and crunchy amaretti, and simple cheese sauces are enriched with truffle.
When in Turin, don't forget to try a plate of agnolotti, pasta parcels filled with various types of meat, or bonet, the city's famous, special-occasion dessert, made with chocolate and amaretti.
Best bites in Turin
Turin has any number of great places to eat. Check out our four favorites:
- Ristorante del Cambio, Piazza Carignano 2. Serving to an elite clientele for over 250 years, this historic restaurant is famous for its elegant dining rooms and impeccable service.
- Dal Saletta, Via Belfiore 37. The wooden tables and red and white checked table cloths, give the game away in this trattoria, where the dishes taste just like your (Italian) granny used to make them.
- Magorabin, Corso San Maurizio 61. A great choice if you fancy a lighter, contemporary version of the region's traditional cuisine. The wine list has plenty of wow! factor too.
- Combal Zero, located within the walls of Turin's Contemporary Art Museum, in Piazza Mafalda di Savoia a Rivoli, serves modern Mediterranean cuisine which looks as good as it tastes.
End your visit to Turin on a sweet note, with a visit to Guido Gobino's laboratory in via Cagliari 15/b or his shop in via Lagrange 1, and feast on the finest chocolates ever!