A weekend in Torino

We arrived into Turin around 8.30pm, checked into our apartment in Piazza Castello and headed straight out. After a quick aperitivo of Aperol Spritz and a web search for some good local pasta, we ended up in Defilippis.

We started with their sharing plate of Asparagus Flan and Cheese Fondue, Russian Salad and Vitello Tonnato. If I’m honest it was a weird combination, with the asparagus flan doing nothing for me. At least we got to try one of the local classics, the Vitello (sliced veal with tuna mayonnaise on top) which I’m pretty sure I won’t try again.

It was all about the pasta though and between us we shared the Agnolotti (mini ravioli) in a meat gravy sauce and Tajarin (in between spaghetti and linguine) with bacon and smoked buratta. Both pastas were cooked perfectly but both sauces lacked seasoning unfortunately. All washed down with a bottle of local red, a Borolo 2013 Damilano at €35. Overall an underwhelming first Turin food experience.

Defilippis KATER Score 6/10 – €80 for two inc. service

The next morning, after a wander around the various piazzas and cobbled streets taking in the local Torino life, we took the lift to the top of Mole Antonelliana for panoramic views of the city.

We also made a pit stop at the famous Al Bicerin Cafe, which serves Turin’s most famous drink of coffee and chocolate topped with cold pouring cream. The trick is not to mix it, but just drink it and let the cold cream complement the hot chocolatey drink. Delicious but so rich and we definitely did not need the side order of biscuits!

We stopped for lunch at GV2 and I’m so glad we did. Faith was restored and we enjoyed some delicious bowls of pasta. I had the Tajarin with rabbit ragu and Sam the agnolotti with meat sauce. Washed down with a Moretti and glass of local white wine, it was just the perfect lunch.

GV2 KATER Score 8/10 – €40 for two inc. service

The afternoon was spent sight-seeing and enjoying a few aperitivos before dinner. We stumbled upon a very cool cocktail bar called DDR with a quite off the wall cocktail menu. So cool I managed to nab myself a copy to bring back…for work purposes.

I had made reservations at BarBaBuc, a relatively new and upcoming restaurant run by a couple of young friends located in the heart of San Salvario. We started with a glass of prosecco, whilst pondering over their special porcini menu or black truffle tasting menu or their regular degustion menu. I was excited. I chose the porcini menu after the waiter told me they had just arrived today and Sam the black truffle menu – both at €35 for three courses.

We both started with a really fresh tasting veal tartare, mine topped with fresh porcini and Sam’s with black truffle. Unfortunately the black truffle was tasteless, the porcni was a lovely addition though. It would have been nice to have a few other garnishes to add such as shallots and egg yolk, but these weren’t available.

Again we both had the same main but with the different garnish. The tajarin pasta was fresh and cooked perfectly but sorry to say it lacked seasoning and was a bit disappointing. When it arrived our waiter made a point of saying the chef felt it didn’t need cheese, however it was available if we wanted. Well we had one mouthful and then asked for the cheese which totally bought the dish to life. Sorry chef.

My third course was a dish of very slow cooked beef with porcini, delicious and incredibly rich but perhaps lacked something like a potato. I get the simplicity and the need for the porcini to be the main attraction but you’ve got to get everything absolutely spot on for this to work. Sam’s third course was a bowl of cheese custard, topped with an egg yolk and shavings of truffle. It looked lovely but when mixed together it was unappetising with raw egg floating on top. Disappointing.

We chose to drink wine by the glass and picked a Brunello Monticello 2013 (memories from a previous Italy trip) and a Barolo. The wine was poured from some weird gas tap; something I’ve never seen before. Unfortunately when we ordered a second glass of the Brunello they had to open a new bottle half way through the pour and gave us no opportunity to taste or check the wine which when you’re paying upwards of €15 a glass and what was essentially a short pour was poor service in my book.

Overall the service was just ok however they did forget our water and didn’t apologise.

BarBaBuc KATER Score 6/10 – €110 for two inc. service

Feeling a bit let down on the food front, the next day we consulted trusty TripAdvisor and found El puig d’Estelles around the corner from our apartment. With no reservation, we were warmly welcomed and shown a table inside, we instantly felt we were somewhere homely and local. We started with a caprese salad and then I chose the salami carbonara and Sam had the Tajarin ragu Bolognese. Both were just perfect and I would highly recommend. A glass of house white wine for me and a draft beer for Sam. Simple, local and delicious.

El Puig D’Estelles KATER Score 8/10 – €40 for two inc. service

Lunch was followed by an afternoon stroll taking in some more of the city, enjoying the sun and of course sampling some gelato before heading back for an afternoon siesta.

That evening we enjoyed aperitivos with a varying selection of snacks which included sausage rolls, ham sandwiches and mini pots of rice salad. No dinner required that night. Between 1730-1930 (usually) most bars offer a small buffet or selection of snacks with your drink at what seems to be at no extra cost! Its brilliant but also very carb heavy. We wondered around the cool end of town, watched the end of the Champions League final (shame Liverpool) and stopped to watch some locals dancing the night away in the street. A very lovely evening indeed.

On our last day we were a bit carbed out and fancied something a bit healthier. We headed for top rated Kensho, a sushi restaurant and were not disappointed. We enjoyed some stunning sashimi, nigiri, rolls and dumplings. We were even treated to an amuse of endamame sponge, fois gras and tuna tartare. It was a welcome change to pasta and probably one of the most modern restaurants we ate in during our stay.

Kensho KATER Score 8/10 – €80 for two inc. service

As I write this I am enjoying a very lovely bottle of Rosso di Montalcino, debating whether it will be pasta or pizza this evening. What a terrible choice to have to make.

Overall Turin has been great for a weekend break, just 1.5 hours from London its been the perfect escape. I’ve loved the culture, the people and of course the food has been pretty awesome too.