Turin – the Roman Quarter

20130513_104519My favourite area in Turin is the Quadrilatero Romano, or Roman quarter. This is where the city was originally founded but there are few visible ruins to see except the Porta Palatina which was once the northern gate of the town.

20130512_231353The quarter has an alternative feel to it with lots of students and hipsters hanging out in the bars. The streets are narrower and the street grid is less rigid here with occasional curves and bends, indicating the presence of older boundaries beneath.

20130511_195449Piazza Emmanuele Filiberto is a cool little square that was buzzing on a Sunday when other parts of the town were very quiet.The food at Trattoria Pastis in the square is supposed to be good and it looks like a nice spot for an aperitif, but I went to this place just around the corner to eat:

Ristorante Tre Galline (Advanced B+), 37 Via Bellezia, Tel. 011 4366 553, 3galline.it/en, closed on Sundays and Monday lunch.

It looks formal but the staff are very friendly and speak good English. It’s the kind of place where they have trolleys with lots of selections, such as cheese, grappa, dessert etc.

20130512_201044I only meant to have a couple of dishes but the food was so good I ended up going for the full works! With hindsight I should have gone for the Menu de Degustazione.

After an amuse bouche of a giant caper fixed to a slice of roast duck with a spoon of hummus (B+).

20130512_201522I love fresh ricotta so couldn’t resist getting the Ricotta Fatta in Casa con Misticanza di Erbe di Stagione. The ricotta was fantastic (A) but I could have happily done without the mini salad it came with (B-), or at least had it separately.

A nice glass of Gavi (La Meirana from Broglia 2011) went well with this.

20130512_202810 20130512_202836Next a non-descript onion soup (C) and some ‘sweetbreads’ (thymus glands) on dry toast, also unremarkable (C).

20130512_202622However the glass of 2010 Nebbiolo called Mirafiore went happily with these dishes (B).

20130512_204946 Given the quality of what had already been served, I decided that this was the place to try the ultimate local dish, Bollito Misto Piedmontese.

20130512_205158Not for the faint-hearted, this involves several kinds of boiled meat, including offal, in my case cuts of beef, cotechino sausage, liver, tongue and chicken, carved at the table from the trolley and served with a scoop of mashed potato. I enjoyed most of it (B) and was glad I’d tried it again (much better than last time) but it was pretty heavy and I couldn’t eat it all.

20130512_204543The meast are classically served with Mostarda which is glace fruit (quince, pears, apples, cherries) in a mustard sauce. Quite an unusual combination for an English palate but it worked well (B).

20130512_204631I was also given a tray of other condiments including salsa verde  (a parsley based sauce), salsa rosso (mild red peppers), mayo, horseradish and some kind of chutney.

20130512_211649I needed a full-bodied red to go with this and a 2008 Barolo called La Foia from Marco Curto hit the spot beautifully  (A).

20130512_214857From the grappa trolley, I chose a Grappa di Brachetto from Morolo which was wonderfully aromatic (B+).

20130512_215247I couldn’t manage a dessert but still received a complimentary glass of Zabaglione to finish (B+).

20130512_225752Because I showed interest in what my neighbours were drinking I also received a free shot of Barathier, a wonderfully smoky amaro, quite unlike anything I had tasted before (A+) and not available on the commercial market, the restaurateur having apparently procured it from a local producer in the nearby hills. Must try to get a bottle.

Just before I left, I was given a little tour of the cellars by  the friendly head waiter. We went down two levels where he showed me a hole leading to a third level. He told me many of the houses in the quarter use these deep cellars as cold rooms for storing food and they often make use of old Roman walls.

Tre Galline is definitely somewhere I’d return to next time I’m here. They also have a sister restaurant/enoteca called Tre Galli www.3galli.com around the corner at 25 Via San Agostino, just off Piazza Filiberto, where you can sit outside. Although I haven’t been it was explained to me that the food served here is more modern/experimental. It seems to be open every day.

20130511_204219Osteria Al Taglieri, (Intermediate B), 9 Via Bellezia, www.osteriaaltagliere.com

No particular reason for choosing this place, just that it was open on a Sunday (when Tre Galline wasn’t). Also it sells local cuisine and you can sit outside.

To start, a local selection of cured hams and cheeses with honey which went down well (B+) with an average bottle of their own brand house red (B-).

20130511_212306Next I went for the classic local dish; Agnolotti al Sugo d’Arrosto which was fine (B). Agnolotti are small raviolis filled with a roasted pork and veal mince and doused with the sauce from the roasting .

20130511_214915To finish Panna Cotta with chocolate sauce, both individually very good but I’m not sure about the combination (B-).

20130511_220541With this a Nebbiolo da Barolo grappa from Villa Manzoni which was fine (B).

In short the food and the ambience is good but the youthful service, although English speaking, didn’t know much about the food they were serving. Good to try for a one off, but there are other places to try so doubt if I’d go back.

Walking home one night I spotted a couple of very cool little shops on nearby Via Santa Chiara, Neo Chic for the ladies at 26C and Moroccan home wares at Hafa 18A.

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20130513_11041020130513_110105If you have a free morning, it’s nice to have a look at the market at Porta Palatina. It’s apparently the largest open air market in Europe and you can see fantastic produce from all over Italy on the stalls.

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