Turin: Aperitivo & Dinner at Porto di Savona

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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For my main I chose trout fillet with Piemonte nuts, served with braised fennel.

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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.

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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.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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