It was a nice surprise to discover that Antonio was visiting his hometown for the weekend and he came over to my hotel so we could go for a drink. We headed to Caffe Torino in Piazza San Carlo, one of the city’s oldest cafes dating from 1903. It was a little early for their official aperitivo of 6-9pm when food is offered with drinks, but Antonio managed to get our drinks served with snacks anyway.
The cafe’s interior is Art Nouveau style and the style carried to the serving of our Bellinis. A waiter put champagne saucers before us, resting on small linen napkins. They contained fresh peach purée. Then (no prosecco for these Bellinis) he poured some Moët & Chandon into the glasses. Then he used a swizzle stick to mix it together. Then more champagne was added and the whole procedure repeated three times in all. It was a wonderful display of mixology theatre. I would have loved to video it with my iPhone but didn’t want to embarrass my friend!
What treats the cocktails were; wonderful. And two plates of gorgeous little snacks came too. One plate had little pizza dough ‘sandwiches’ and the other – which Antonio said were salatini – were pastry pieces with various fillings. It was a lovely way to spend some time in the afternoon.
I’d booked a table at my friend Lucia’s favourite restaurant in Turin for the evening: Porto di Savona. It’s one of the city’s oldest restaurants and opened in 1863 when Turin was (for only a short time) the capital of Italy.
It’s just into Piazza Vittorio if you walk down Via Po towards the river. There are various ‘rooms’ inside with more tables upstairs and some outside.
I chose a special of the day to begin: pumpkin gnocchi on a bed of mushroom purée. It was wonderful, the gnocchi so light and tasty.
For my main I chose trout fillet with Piemonte nuts, served with braised fennel.
This was excellent too – and impressively no bones left in the trout!
I chose Tiramisu for dessert. Not a Piemontese dish, it’s true, for tiramisu comes from the Veneto, but they said it was a house special.
I’m afraid my photo is very out of focus but the tiramisu was very good indeed – light with a perfect balance of the flavours. With coffee and some wine my bill came to €35, which I thought excellent value. I headed slowly back to the hotel through a lively Turin, its beautiful buildings and piazzas lit up at night, and happy with all I’d done on my first full day here.