What to eat and drink in Turin?
Updated: Jun 13
Refined and delicate, Piedmontes regional cuisine conquers palates with recipes formed, for the most part, from the meeting of two culinary arts: the noble art of the Savoy court and that born of peasant traditions. You will see how these dishes are full of history and interesting legends that only the locals know to exist. Let’s have a look at the typical dishes of this Italian region.
Tomini al Verde
Tomino is the name of cheese originating from Piedmont, which is served grilled or baked and paired with vegetables on the side. The basis of tomini al Verde is the bagnèt vert, which is prepared with anchovies, parsley, garlic, oil, and wine vinegar.
This plate can be tasted as a starter, but in general, it is considered as a convivial dish. Especially in autumn, it is the perfect meal to share with friends on Sundays. Literally, Bagna cauda means hot sauce in which vegetables are dipped. It is prepared by simmering garlic cloves and anchovies in extra virgin olive oil and served in a heat-retaining fujot (earthenware cooker), accompanied by raw vegetables.
Called Vitel tonné according to the dialect of the region, it consists of a wine-marinated and tender-boiled veal in a creamy tuna sauce. The version originated in the 18th century, and the Frenchness of the name is due to the Duchy of Savoy (even though 'calf' in French is 'veau'). Unlike contemporary veal, it was a poor and popular dish, cooked with leftover meat. Curiosity for you: this dish arrived in Piedmont with the smugglers - the tuna was put on the bottom of the barrels used to transport the anchovies, to pass unobserved at the customs.
Finanziera alla Cavour
The name of this plate originates from the story of the Count of Cavour: it is said that the Count was fond of this dish and often had it prepared at the 'Ristorante del Cambio' in Turin. The main ingredients are pieces of chicken, beef, and veal, floured and browned with butter and a splash of marsala, accompanied by some mushrooms in oil.
Agnolotti al sugo d’arrosto
What’s something that should never miss when it comes to food and Italy? Pasta, obviously! Agnolotti is another type of delicious, stuffed pasta commonly found all around the Piedmont region. In the traditional recipes of Agnolotti, the filling always consists of meat. A usual way to prepare Agnolotti is with a ragù sauce, with meat broth, or simply with butter, sage, and Parmigiano.
This dish is composed of rice, and it is mainly spread in the provinces of Novara and Vercelli. The special feature is cooking with bean broth. Piedmont is well known for the quality of rice it produces. This typical Piedmontes' dish is in fact nowadays cooked with Arborio or Baldo rice. Without forgetting that another well-known rice dish is risotto with Barolo, prepared with the intense, elegant, UNESCO heritage red wine.
Tajarin al tartufo bianco d’Alba
First of all, you should know that Alba is a Piedmontes town well known for its prized truffles, which make a refined first course typical of the region's cuisine. Tajarin, the name given to tagliolini in Piedmont, is a thin pasta similar to spaghetti, but so thin that it is called 'angel hair'. They are dressed with a simple butter sauce flavored with white truffle. The flavor of the white truffle is intense and at times reminiscent of grana cheese with a garlicky slightly spicy taste, and some hints of honey. In the 15th century, this dish was mainly for wealthy people, because this type of homemade pasta requires a lot of eggs, which obviously only rich families could afford.
Piedmonte's desserts characterize enchanted patisseries filled with trays of meringues, cream pastries, cakes, marron glacés, and so on. Piedmont, as we know, is a gluttonous region, preserving the tradition of chocolate dating back to the 14th century and uniting it with that of hazelnuts from the Langhe. That's why these characterize the main ingredients of desserts.
Formerly shaped like a hat, is a traditional spoon dessert made with milk, eggs, cocoa, amaretti, and rum. It was the grand finale of sumptuous banquets. Today, the Bonet is an ever-present dessert on the menus of traditional Piedmonte's restaurants and trattorias, which have changed the shape, and even the ingredients, creating variations such as lemon Bonet, with the addition of coffee or cognac. The term 'Bonet' alludes to a rounded male cap, so whatever the variant, don't forget to wear your cap before going out. This means, you absolutely must try it!
Surely the most famous chocolates are the Gianduiotto, a precious chocolate that no one can do without it melts in the mouth from the first bite, and its flavor is mixed with that of the hazelnuts from the Langhe mixed with pure cocoa. And if you prefer to enjoy chocolate with a special ingredient, we recommend the Cuneese al Rhum, covered in dark chocolate. But also, the Cri-Cri, hazelnut praline covered in dark chocolate, sprinkled with tiny white sugar balls.
Fun fact: Legend says that the birth of this chocolate comes from a young girl named Cristina whose lover used to call her by the diminutive name Cri. He used to go to this bakery to buy his favorite sweets, so the baker would ask him "Cri?" and he would answer "Cri!".
Baci di dama
Considered the most romantic biscuit, it is made from two pieces of dough held together by chocolate. Its shape resembles the lips of a young girl intent on giving a kiss: hence the term 'lady's kiss'. They are really delicious, trust us.
Paste di meliga
These tea biscuits were invented out of necessity, in years when the wheat harvest was poor. That's why they are made with cornflour. Traditionally these biscuits were eaten at the end of a meal, dipped in a glass of Barolo wine. Other very famous biscuits are krumiri and bicciolani.
Tartufo al cioccolato
Kneading the nougat scrap together with the leftover chocolate, cocoa, and hazelnut paste, was the main idea in creating this delicacy. Today, the chocolate truffle from the Antica Torroneria Piemontese is one of the most famous sweets at the international level. Its tastiness goes beyond the simple hazelnut version; many other flavors are produced, such as gianduja, cappuccino, white chocolate, pistachio, extranero, stracciatella, amaretti, and praline.
Dating back to the 18th century, Bicerin is a classic beverage from Turin and means “little glass” in Piedmonte. It consists of three layers in three different colors and three different consistencies: cream of milk, espresso, and hot chocolate. Since the three layers should be visible while enjoying this beverage, it is traditionally prepared and served in a tall, clear glass. Also, it is recommended not to mix the Bicerin, thereby allowing the various ingredients to come together directly with their different densities, temperatures, and tastes. Obviously, this type of drink is enjoyed whenever you want an energetic breakfast!
We all know that Aperitivo is part of Italian life and that it originated there several hundred years ago. Nowadays, there are various forms to enjoy this drink all around the world. But did you know that the tradition of having an aperitivo was initiated in Piedmont? In Italian culture, it serves as a way to open your appetite and ready your stomach for the fantastic food that is going to come after – and in Turin, this local ritual has been an essential part of life since the eighteenth century, when Vermouth was introduced. Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine, spiked with brandy, infused with herbs, spices, and botanicals, and sweetened.
So, when you are in Turin, you simply have to try fresh vermouth – straight or as one of the famous cocktails like Negroni, Manhattan, or Martini.
Amaro San Simone
After a good dinner in any Piedmontes restaurant, you must order what they call the 'Pusa café', which means what drives out the coffee. In fact, the bitter is essentially enjoyed after the coffee, at the end of dinner. This liquor takes its name from a brotherhood of monks that existed in Turin in the 16th century and was initially made for pharmaceutical reasons. It has a delicious taste, between sweet and bitter, while its scent is unmistakable.
The Piedmont region has a variety of fine wines, the pride of Italy's wine-making tradition. Wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Nebbiolo have different garnet reflections, but on the palate, the bouquet reveals notes of different fruits such as black cherries, blackberries, raspberries, red fruits sometimes accompanied by notes of vanilla as in the case of Barolo or Nebbiolo. Also, Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato, which is linked to one of the rarest grape varieties in the province of Asti, is famous for its sparkling wine.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Now that you discover Turin's food, discover the best of Turin and pieces of advice to travel there!