People who love to eat are always the best people! Live, love, eat and enjoy the best of Piedmontese culinary tastes!
If you are planning a trip to Piedmont you might want to know that you are such a lucky person, because when it comes to talk about food, you will find out that this region is so different from the rest of Italy. Olives don’t grow well in this climate and so the local cooking relies more on butter and lard, ingredients which lend a silky texture and a hearty aroma. Local meats and root vegetables are generally cooked for long periods on a low heat, letting the flavours develop slowly and giving a deliciously rich, tasty character to Piedmontese dishes. Rather than the pizzas and tomato-based pasta sauces familiar from elsewhere in Italy, in Piedmont you are more likely to come across risotto, polenta and even cheese fondue (most of Italy’s Gorgonzola is still made here).
The traditional Piedmont cuisine is based on rich flavours, full bodied wines and incredible tasty desserts. On top of the culinary specialties you will find the truffles, unique in taste and aroma. Black truffles are more common, found in France as well as Piedmont and other areas of Italy, whereas white truffles are considerably rarer, harvested from August to January in and around Alba, in the south-east of Turin. The best way to eat them is as raw shavings added to simple dishes, such as plain tagliolini (egg noodles).
From local beef to frogs, you will find a broad range of specialties in Piedmont. Polenta is a staple dish, often served with game birds or pork. The most interesting Piedmontese meal is the bagna cauda, or hot bath, where crudités – artichokes (or local cardoons), peppers, celery and the like – are dipped into a tangy sauce of butter, oil, garlic and anchovies. Agnolotti are egg pasta parcels with a herb meat filling, often served with sage leaves sautéed in butter, while fritto misto is a classic local main, comprising almost anything – from courgettes to mushrooms, lamb, veal, liver, brains or sweetbreads, through apples, pears and even sweet amaretti – deep-fried and served together. Vitello tonnato, or veal in a tuna sauce, is another favourite.
The food festivals
Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco
It’s the vastest and colourful event in Piedmont, devoted to the white truffles, held in Alba in every October. Market stalls are loaded with truffles – the flavored approach is to bargain for one, then to take your prize to a local restaurant and ask the chef to add shavings of it to your chosen dish.
Alba is also the setting for Vinum, a wine fair held in the late April, when the major producers present their new vintages. The “world’s best hazelnut” is celebrated in late August at the Sagra della Nocciola Tonda Gentile, in the nut-producing village of Cortemilia near Alba.
The Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto
This is another culinary festival that you should not miss. Dinner, lectures, good music and dishes prepared by international chefs, are all going to make your Italian cuisine trip a one of a kind experience.
Red, white and Vermouth
Piedmont has been producing wine since classical times, also being the place of birth for vermouth, the basis of cocktails such as the Martini. The most acclaimed of the region’s wines is Barolo, a full-bodied dry red produced from Nebbiolo grapes in the Langhe region, which has been given the prestigious DOCG mark (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). It suits rich meats and powerful cheeses, but is, above all, the choice accompaniment to truffle dishes. Barbaresco is another DOCG red wine with a similarly rich, luscious flavour, though more ruby red in colour than the garnet of Barolo and with a more pronounced acidity. Barbera, once a rustic red, has undergone 10 years’ refinement and is now an acclaimed DOC, as is the dry red Dolcetto.
Piedmontese most famous wine is the sparkling white Asti Spumante – sweet, low in alcohol. Asti Spumante also boasts DOCG status and is considerably more sophisticated than its cheap reputation might indicate. Almost 69 million bottles of Asti were sold worldwide in 2005. The related Moscato d’Asti is a dessert wine – also with the DOCG mark – best sampled alongside the delicious Langhe hazelnut cake.
Now that you know exactly what to eat in Piedmont, let’s find out which are the best restaurants where you can find all of the specialities and a lot more:
If you will get the pleasure to visit Mollica, you will be blown away by the quality of the products and by the services. Everything here is perfect. We recommend you to eat here a lovely Italian breakfast, because you will find a wide variety of sandwiches. A must go when visiting Turin, not only for the great food and the stunning choices of cured meat and regional cheeses, but also for the lovely staff that will make you feel welcome and prepared to give you a lot of great recommendations. All in all, this is a great place to fuel up and explore the nearby attractions – the produce market in the same district can be an excellent spot for budding photographers and the Moorish Synagogue is also nearby.
Our food recommendations:
Grinder – Homemade Italian Sausage Links, Provolone, Roasted Bell Peppers and Red Sauce on an Italian Roll.
Dominic – Homemade Meatballs, Provolone, Roasted Bell Peppers and Red Sauce on an Italian Roll.
Bravo – Homemade Italian Sausage Patties, Provolone, Lettuce, Mayonnaise, Roasted Bell Peppers on an Italian Roll and side of Red Sauce.
Caprice Sandwich – Fresh Mozzarella, Fresh Tomato, Fresh Basil and Italian Dressing layered on an Italian Roll.
Veggie Sandwich – Choice of Cheese and Bread, Mayonnaise, Mustard, Italian Dressing, Lettuce, Tomato, Carrots, Cucumbers and Avocado.
Italian Salad – Strips of Salami, Capicola, Provolone Cheese, Tomato served on a bed of Lettuce, topped with an Egg and Italian Dressing.
Chef Salad – Strips of Boars Head Turkey and Ham, Swiss Cheese, Tomato served on a bed of Lettuce and topped with an Egg and your choice of Dressing.
Mediterranean Spinach Salad – Sliced Artichoke Hearts, Olives, Pepperoncini, Sundried Tomato, Fresh Basil and Feta with our House Italian Dressing. ( House Made Giardiniera).
2. La Taverna dei Mercanti
This is a very wonderful place and it also represents an excellent stay for a truly Italian meal, while you are in Turin. The menu is served very nicely and professionally with some of the most known Piedmontese dishes. The fantastic food is cooked with genuine ingredients, home made pasta, gnocchi and local specialities.
Our food recommendations:
Bruschetta with: oil and garlic/ fresh tomato/ mushrooms/ truffles/ ham/ smoked salmon
Polenta with sausages
Mercanti mixed grill
Raw beef carpacio
Seasoned mixed salad
3. Ristorante Galante
This is an intimate restaurant in the heart of Turin, which boasts a thirty-year management that already sees the presence of the second generation. Many artisan preparations, among which it is essential to remember the bread, the breadsticks, the fresh pasta and last, but not least, the desserts and the ice- creams. True to the saying on the visiting cards, this restaurant offers you a choice of three or four delicious types of bread, just to whet your appetite. The vitello tonnato, as a starter, is a delicacy so nicely presented. The “pasta fatta in casa” (home made) makes you want to ask for more. If you like to have a nice variety of delicious tastes, this place is for you.
Our food recommendations:
Wild salmon carpaccio with pink pepper on cream of milk
Grilled calamari with roasted peppers
Sea bass ravioli with red Tropea onion
Risotto with shrimps, chives and Marsala
Sea bass fillets with zucchini
Raw Albese meat with porcini mushrooms
Porcini mushroom pie with gorgonzola cream
Tajarin with porcini mushrooms
Cut of Piedmontese veal with porcini mushrooms
Bonet of the Langhe
Piedmont tastes as good as it looks! As long as you get the chance to travel to this wonderful region take your time to explore each and every dish! Don’t forget: better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times! Pack your luggage and enjoy your trip!