This was another recommendation from Antonio, who is clearly notching up brownie points with me. But since he comes from Turin it would have been silly to not ask him, Where should I eat?
I don’t think I would have found it without the recommendation. It’s very close to my hotel but down a busy street and I might well have looked with interest in through the windows – for it’s a deli and food shop too – but not necessarily thought to eat there.
As it turns out, it’s a very popular place with a great reputation – especially for its pasta. Pastificio means ‘pasta factory’. It opened in 1872 when chef Domenico Toso returned to his home town of Turin after cooking in Florence for the Savoy Court. Toso specialised in making hand-made pasta and soon gained a great reputation. The Defilippis family bought the shop in the 1940s and carried on Toso’s work. Their pasta became renowned for its quality and a favourite haunt of gourmets in and around Turin.
I sought it out soon after I arrived and as it’s one of the few restaurants open on Sunday evening, booked for then. You can eat more informally in the downstairs shop area for lunch and during the week but only the smarter restaurant area is open on Sunday evenings.
The downstairs was laid up when I arrived, though, and indeed people did eat there. It was very busy. But the shop was closed. I arrived as they opened at 7.30; the time I’d booked for. I was shown to a table upstairs in the restaurant area. It was empty as they’d just opened but soon filled up completely so it was as well I’d booked.
It was elegant and attractive in an informal, relaxed way. I liked it a lot. A good basket of bread came quickly and I ordered a glass of prosecco while I looked at the menu.
I had to have pasta, of course, so decided on having a starter – antipasti – and a pasta dish as a main course.
My starter was Baccala (dried salted cod) cured with lemon verbana dressing with artichokes (€13).
It was a huge portion – almost big enough to share as a starter. But very delicious. The fish was tender and I’d never had raw artichoke before but really liked these thinly sliced small ones with the fish.
I asked for a glass of red wine to go with my main. The waiter was helpful and suggested this Nebbiolo from the local Langhe area and it was very good; a lovely flavour with a softness to it.
My main was paccheri pasta (large tubes) with onion, veal and Parmesan (€12).
It was wonderful. The pasta retained that al dente you always get in Italy. Tender pieces of veal were wrapped in onion that had been gently melted down into almost a creamy sauce. Again, it was a large portion and so I had no room for dessert and ordered just an espresso.
It had been a great find and I’ll definitely return when I come to Turin again.
It was my last evening so I didn’t want to rush back to the hotel. I took a very circular route via Piazza Carignano where I’d earlier eaten lunch in the sun; it was now deserted.
Then on to Piazza San Carlo, the vibrant heart of Turin. Beautiful at any time of day, it’s especially wonderful at night.
From there it was barely 5 minutes before I was back at the Grand Hotel Sitea.
It had been a great last evening of my trip.