A “Locals” Guide to Torino, Italy

I might be using the term ‘local’ loosely, but I feel after a month in Torino, I definitely have a good sense of what to do, where to eat and where to go. So if you’re visiting the area, here is what I’d recommend:

What to Eat in Torino

Let’s be honest, food is one of the most important aspects of an Italian vacation. So let’s get right to it. 

Pizza:

I made it a personal goal to try as much pizza as possible and here is my final ranking:

  1. Sarchiapone: This pizza place is in San Salvario, a hip neighborhood south of the city center that feels a lot like the East Village in NYC. It’s always crowded and they speak no English. Luckily we went with Chiara who could help us with deciphering the menu and ordering. But it was the definite pizza winner.
  1. Alla Lettera: Near Porte Nuova, this restaurant has great outdoor seating in the middle of a relatively quiet piazza. While their pizza was absolutely delicious, their service left a lot to be desired.
  1. Mammamia Sas di Cicanese Giuseppe: This unassuming restaurant on the side of a fairly busy road has the lightest pizza I found in Torino. The crust is thin, perfectly cooked, wonderfully delicious and the sauce is the ideal consistency, runny without being too watery. It was the only place I left not feeling overly stuffed.
  1. Cammafa: Another San Salvario gem. I had a minor translation issue when ordering and didn’t get tomato sauce, which is really the only reason it’s ranked 4th. The crust however, was heavenly! I still dream about it.
  1. Pizzeria Scugnizzo: This was actually right next door to Mammamia. The pizza was quite tasty, but the crust was so thick, I felt like I was eating seven loaves of bread. I was so uncomfortably full after eating only half of my pizza, I don’t think I can rank this one higher.
  1. Pizza aD Hoc di Momblano: This happened to be around the corner from my apartment and on my walk to work. I stopped here for a quick lunch on the way to the office and it was satisfactory (and let’s be honest, still probably better than 90% of pizza in the US) but I don’t think I’d rush to go back.

Gelato

Similarly, I sampled quite a bit of gelato. All for the sake of the blog, clearly. Something I learned while in Torino is that a large majority of gelaterias now use pre-made mixes. A few locations still use only fresh ingredients and you can absolutely taste a difference.

  1. Mara dei Boschi: We passed this in San Salvario on our way home from Sarchipaone and Chiara told us it was her favorite gelato. So we had to stop. And it was absolutely mine as well. I tried a sample of their double chocolate and I’ve never been one to shy away from rich desserts. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t think that I’d be able to eat more than a few spoonfuls. It would be my Aunt Susan’s dream come true, though!
    Torino Guide 10
  1. Gelateria Alberto Marchetti: This was one block from my apartment and I only stopped here because I was craving gelato one hot afternoon while I was working in my apartment. I ran out to grab a cone in between meetings and so glad I tried it!
  2. Grom: I didn’t want to like Grom as much as I did. They have several locations in the US, have multiple locations in Torino in the most touristy areas and they all always have a line. But there’s a reason it’s become so popular.
  1. Nivà Gelato: This is in Piazza Vittorio and I was walking by on my Mom’s birthday. I figured I should help her celebrate in Italy so I stopped in. I had a slight translation issue and they gave me two scoops and I’m not at all sad about it.
  1. Caffé Fiorio: This is a historic café that has been a meeting place for intellectuals and the wealthy since 1780. The gelato was good, but nothing fantastic, and it was extremely overpriced.
  2. La Gelateria Menodiciotto: This was Camille and Catherine’s go-to gelato but I can’t say I was too impressed. It definitely won for presentation, but the gelato itself just wasn’t that flavorful.

Other Restaurants: 

Café Al Bicerin: The originator of the bicerin, an espresso, hot chocolate and cream drink. A great little café in a great little square. Pricey but totally worth it.

Café San Marco: Another historic café that is over priced, but worth the €3 espresso because the inside is so cool.

Torino Guide 1

Lanificio: We went to apericena on our first and last night in Torino. Also in San Salvario, you pay €9 for a drink and an incredible Italian buffet.

Barbiturici: A very American restaurant, but they offered FULL SIZE CUPS OF COFFEE!! That alone would qualify this for my list. But they also have very tasty food – salads, bagel sandwiches and hamburgers (We were recommended here by Chiara, so it’s actually a local place and has a better ambiance and vibe then this description is probably making it sound)

Adonis: Another San Salvario eatery. Sensing a theme of neighborhoods? This is a crêperie that has equally delicious savory and sweet crêpes.

Perino Vesco: I walked by this place one afternoon and thought it looked good. Sarah and I checked it out later and you can purchase all sorts of pre-made focaccia with different toppings, choosing how big of a slice you want based on hunger or how many versions you want to try.

E Cucina: A full culinary experience! We ate here as a group and you simply choose the fish, vegetarian or meat menu. Each menu comes with a dessert and you decide after which course you’re done eating. We all had to stop after our aperitivo and primi, skipping the secondo to save room for dessert. You can’t know what’s coming out in each course, it’s a surprise when they place it on the table, and it changes each day based on what’s fresh in the market. They’re traditional Italian ingredients, but very odd pairings.

Torino Guide 7

Aperitivo: beef carpaccio with zucchini, cheese and walnuts.

Torino Guide 5

Primi: pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and raisins

Torino Guide 6Dolce: frozen meringue, pistachio cake and chocolate brownies

Eataly: Eataly started in Lingotto, a 10-minute metro ride from Torino. I am a frequent visitor to the Eataly in Chicago, have been to the one in NYC, stopped in at the one in Florence, enjoyed coffee at the one in the Mole and had lunch at the one in Torino’s city center. Suffice it to say I like Eataly. And the original one is incredible! It’s huge, you want to buy everything and I wish I could sample every dish at every restaurant.

Cianci: This was the most Italian place we went the entire time. Jillian and I ventured here without Chiara and really wish we had her to translate! You sit shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other tables in the middle of the square. The restaurant is packed and there’s always an hour plus wait, but all with locals, so you know it must be good. No waiters spoke English so we had a few surprises in what we ordered, but everything was delicious. And the best part – it was €26 total for an appetizer, two primi pasta dishes, two desserts and a liter of wine.

Torino Guide 8

A terrible picture, but gives you a sense of how packed it was. There were even more tables on our other side, in front of us and behind us.

Baratti & Milano: Yet another historic, beautiful café. This one also doubles as a gourmet chocolatier. I tried an espresso with a bit of hot chocolate mixed in. Not quite as rich as a bicerin and since it’s so small, it’s much more manageable as an afternoon treat.

Master Sandwich: For €4.50, you get the freshest, tastiest panini, a bottle of water and a tiny little panino with Nutella. It’s a small shop with barely enough room to stand while you wait to order. There are at least 40 different options to choose from and somehow, the sandwich masters know the ingredients on every single one. They slice the salami freshly onto each sandwich and the bread is made throughout the day. I’m drooling a bit even thinking about it. We had a lengthy discussion about the fact that you can get a sandwich for so cheap when it has perfectly cured meat, fresh cheese and an abundance of straight-from-the-garden vegetables. America is doing something wrong.

What To Do In Torino:

Museum Pass: Depending on your length of stay, I’d highly recommend the Torino + Piemonte Card or the Abbonamento Musei Torino Piemonte. You can check out my lengthy post dedicated too all of the museums of Torino here.

Run in Parco del Valentino: The park is huge and runs along the River Po, offering beautiful views of the bridges, hills and castles. If you go in the morning, you’ll see tons of people out for a run. In the late evening, you’ll see students and locals enjoying picnics and live music. If you’re lucky and there happens to be a race going on in the park, sign up!

Torino Guide 9

Sunset at Monte dei Cappuccini: Hike up to the piazza and enjoy a beer while watching the sunset behind the Alps, casting long, beautiful shadows over the city.

Torino Guide 4

Paddle Board on the River Po: The River Po looks disgusting because of all the algae, but the water is actually quite clean. Join the locals on the water, paddle boarding, kayaking or rowing.

Swing Dancing in Piazza Castello: We were invited to join our friends to learn swing dancing in the main square. We were all terrible but it was really fun watching those that knew what they were doing. Here’s a short preview.

Night at Cacao: Chiara invited us to Cacao with a big group of her friends and we really had no idea what to expect. If you arrive before 10pm, you’re treated to another incredible Italian apericena. Cacao then turns into an outdoor nightclub, packed with locals of all ages. After eating, we figured we’d stay for an hour then politely excuse ourselves. We finally headed back at 4am!! For an hour or so, an Italian singer came on and sang the equivalent of Italian oldies. Every person knew every word and sang along – it was really fun to watch and listen. Chiara and Niccolo were translating the songs for us and the lyrics were hysterically cheesy.

Torino Guide 3

Enjoying apericena, still a bit leery of Cacao

Torino Guide 2

Fully embracing it! Mom, please note, there are two straws per drink, there aren’t actually 38 drinks on our table.

Enjoy the Wonders of Apericena: Apericena isn’t just a cheap way to eat dinner; it’s a way to really embrace Torino’s culture. It’s offered at most places and you always get a drink and small plates, but you need to do a bit of research as some are definitely better than others.

Walk Around the City: Torino isn’t all that big, and you can walk pretty much anywhere. The side streets are equally as charming as the main streets with their wonderful porticoes. Just stroll around, getting lost in the streets between the piazzas and you can’t help but be impressed with how beautiful the city is.

Where To Go Around Torino:

The Alps: You’re literally at the base of the Alps in Torino, so it’s a must to head into the mountains. Both the French and Swiss Alps are easy train rides away and you can be in the Italian Alps in less than an hour, so get out and explore. 

Wine Tasting: Piemonte is home to some of the best wine regions in the world: Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. How can you not go sample the local wine? 

Lake Como: Lake Como is more gorgeous than you can even imagine. It’s more than worth the 2-hour drive or train ride over there.

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