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July 2011 short report on two meals in Torino: Ristorante Tre Galline and Le Vitel Etonne, plus gelati

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I spent a bit less than 24 hours in Torino on my way to val d'Aosta. My first choice for a Saturday night dinner, L'Acino, was closed for the latter half of July, so I wandered through the quadrilatero romano section of the city, looking for an alternative. I settled on Ristorante Tre Galline because I've seen it favorably reviewed in many places.

RISTORANTE TRE GALLINE: It is an exceptionally lovely dining space, one of the most all-around pleasant that I have ever sat in. Service was sweet-natured, prompt and tri-lingual. The restaurant has a wonderful wine list. Handmade bread sticks were terrific. We were treated to an amuse bouche that was a creamy melange of fresh ricotta, cream and a kind of parsley pesto, with a lacy "cookie" made of cheese and perhaps other thing. It was fine, but I could have lived without it. My first course -- essentially a steak tartar with raw egg and some anchovy creme -- was weirdly flavorless. Ordinarily in Italy, at a well-recommended restaurant, one can count on flavorful elements, even if everything else goes awry. These were -- like I said -- startlingly without flavor. The anchovy creme had some punch, but that's not saying much for anchovies! My husband didn't complain about his primi of gnocchi (with basil and tomato), but I tasted it and really disliked the small hard balls of gnocchi.

Things improved considerable with the second course. I had a potato creme with a skewer of grilled eel. The very refined potato creme had everything right about it, including a dash of fish roe. My husband had a simple fish, steamed, with summer vegetables on the side. It was expertly done. We decided to quit while we were ahead, although eating dessert is one of the things I usually look forward to when heading to Piemonte. I just felt that my chances of being disappointed were greater than 50-50. The meal was not expensive, even with wine (a delicious Reisling from Piemonte.)

There were so many French speaking people in the restaurant, when I got back to my hotel I looked up Tre Galline in my Michelin guide, and sure enough, it was there. I actually have an outdated copy of Michelin, so I don't know if it is in the current one. Anyway, surely there are better choices in Piemonte and in general -- this may be unfair -- I am wondering if the entire quadrilatero romano district is overrated as a destination in Torino.

LE VITEL ETONNE -- I picked this place mainly because it was the best recommended place open for lunch on a July Sunday. It is a trendy, small, bit cramped space with forthright service and a limited but fun menu, very fairly priced. We began with a wonderful simple dish of strips of roasted eggplant, some fresh, curdy cheese, a bit of tomato, pesto -- It was a chef's creation and it was incredibly homey and good. My husband had a handmade eggy pasta with bits of hen and some tomato. Equally good. Disaster struck with my plate: A very pretty stuffed leg and thigh of hen, perched on carmelized onions that, when I cut into it for the first bite, proved to be absolutely raw inside! I called over the waitress. She was horrified at the sight, even before I had spoken two words. The plate was whisked away. Profuse apologies were made for an acting-up oven, a fully-cooked serving eventually arrived, and it was fine, and we still made our train to val d'Aosta. Despite the mishap, I would return to Le Vitel Etonne.

Gelati -- I was starving when I arrived in Torino, and grabbed a gelato from Pepino's to hold me over until dinner. The frutta di bosco was wonderful. The melon unimpressive. On my way out of town, I got a gelato from Venchi's at the train station. I so disliked it (frutta di bosco), I gave it to my husband, who said he didn't mind it. Just for the record, I spotted long lines outside two Grom locations in Torino (and the Grom store here in Aosta was empty this afternoon).

If I survive the high-cholesterol onslaught of cheese and eggs (and lard) here the gorgeous and historically thrilling val d'Aosta, I'll post about the trip.

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L'Acino
Via San Domenico,2a, Turin, Piedmont , IT

Le Vitel Etonne
Via San Francesco da Paola,4, Turin, Piedmont , IT

Tre Galline
Via Gian Francesco Bellezia, 37, Torino, Piemonte 10122, IT

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  1. barberinibee I'm sorry to read about your gelato delusion ..about GROM, Torino is the place where everything started, the first "gelateria" GROM was opened in near Piazza Castello in Via Carlo Alberto. Aboun the gelato, next time you will pass from Torino let me know I will recommend you my "best place" in town.

    12 Replies
    1. re: TheTorinoAgent

      Thanks barberinibee for this report!

      ps: TorinoAgent - please do share your Torinese gelato favourites (either here or in a new thread?)? Please please please!

      Re Grom - it's interesting looking at the ebbs and flows of different Groms around the world. The Grom in the Village in NYC is quite steadily busy in the warm months. Interestingly enough, the Grom in Malibu was empty when we visited just a few weeks ago..

      1. re: TheTorinoAgent

        TorinoAgent,

        I am having a hard time following your meaning. What ┬░gelato delusion"? I didn't have any gelato from GROM. I only reported that there were very long lines at the two GROM gelaterie I walked past, one in the piazza Carignano, the other on via Garibaldi. I also reported that GROM doesn't appear equally popular in Aosta. From previous experiences in Genova, I'd already concluded GROM is one of my least favorite gelati, so I didn't eat any GROM gelato anywhere.

        I actually don't like any gelato all that much, but I was very hungry when I arrived in Torino and everything else was closed. On my way out of town, I had a long wait at the train station, with not many options.

        But I'm sure others planning a visit to Torino would appreciate your recommendations.

        1. re: barberinibee

          Hi barberinibee:

          Just wanted to confirm with you that this was the restaurant that you ate at

          http://www.3galline.it/

          .. making our eating decisions right now, and I'm adding Tre Galline.

          Thanks so much in advance!

          db

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          Tre Galline
          Via Gian Francesco Bellezia, 37, Torino, Piemonte 10122, IT

          1. re: DistendedBelly

            DB - we ate at that restaurant last year and had a wonderful meal (described in my report). I am still kicking myself that I didn't order the bollito misto!

            1. re: DistendedBelly

              Hi. db

              It was I Tre Galline, and I hope I am not too late to discourage you from going. Surely there are much better choices in one of Italy's best eating cities. I tried to write my report in a way that made it plain I don't consider the restaurant as destination-worthy. It was not my first choice to begin with.

              It has a nice wine list and a very pretty dining space. The food is hit or miss, and targets tourists with a menu that meets their expectations rather than offering seasonal cooking. Perhaps they do some things well, but if you are determined to eat there, I would find out what those things are and make sure you order them in season. The restaurant appeared to keep some items on the menu because they were popular or expected, not because they were in season.

              -----
              Tre Galline
              Via Gian Francesco Bellezia, 37, Torino, Piemonte 10122, IT

              1. re: barberinibee

                Hello barberinibee:

                I am still researching places to eat in Torino (I am armed with various online resources, GR guide, snail guide (slow food latest + older editions), GR Foodies, Plotkin, etc, and have still come up somewhat empty handed. There are a few older threads on Torino here, but not that many really recent ones (except from your excellent reports of course, for which I am grateful for -- grazie mille!).

                I understand you had lunch and would return to Vitel Etonne.. but where would you recommend for dinner?

                Cheers and thanks again,
                db

                1. re: DistendedBelly

                  I would go back to Le Vitel Etonne for dinner, but for something upscale in terms of decor and ambience, check out La Badessa. I ate there when it first opened and very much liked it. Perhaps you can track down recent reviews and see if it still holds up.

                  Two other places I wanted to try in addition to L'Acino, but I was not in Torino long enough, were Le Antiche Sere and a restaurant on via Belfiore whose name right now escapes me, but I am pretty sure Fred Plotkin is fond of it. May people speak highly of Sotto La Mole -- and certainly that would be my choice were I near the Mole.

                  One thing that tends to govern my restaurant dinner choices is that I like to be able to walk back to my hotel after dinner, rather than take a taxi or tram. If you don't have that problem, another restaurant that has piqued my curiosity is Antica Trattoria Con Calma, which is across the Po.

                  I don't know how much wine interests you, but Piemonte really does have some of the very best wine in Europe. Next time I have a few nights in Torino, I might think about approaching my dinner choices in terms of enoteche or restaurants with a good repuatation for pairing wine with food. I'd have to start from scratch researching that, but if you are interested in wine, you might not want to pass up the opportunity to spoil yourself drinking Piemontese wine.

                  -----
                  Antiche Sere
                  Via Cenischia, 9, Turin, Piedmont 10139, IT

                  Con Calma
                  Strada Comunale del Cartman, 59, Turin, Piedmont , IT

                  L'Acino
                  Via San Domenico,2a, Turin, Piedmont , IT

                  Le Vitel Etonne
                  Via San Francesco da Paola,4, Turin, Piedmont , IT

                  1. re: DistendedBelly

                    DB- if you are still looking for Turin restaurants may I suggest La Gola.
                    We had an excellent meal there about a month ago. There is no written menu. The owner, Domenico Cairola, explains what is available, also making helpful wine suggestions. His son, who trained under Paul Bocuse, is the chef. Our meal started with a selection of entrees that included asparagus mousse with Castelmango,
                    capsicum with a light tuna stuffing and a veal parcel in lettuce- all very good.
                    My husband then had the agnoletti with a rich meat sauce whilst I enjoyed the home made gnocchi with asparagus. We declined secondi to be able to indulge in
                    dessert. My peach cooked in chocolate and amaretto was stunning as was my
                    husband's torrone semifreddo with a to die for chocolate sauce- Turin chocolate of course! Including wine the bill for 2 people was 90E. We would certainly return next
                    time we are in Turin.

                    1. re: atasteoftravel

                      @barberinibee & atasteoftravel:

                      Thanks for these recommendations!

                      As for wine, we love big reds, so will definitely incorporate some Piemontese wines into meals.

                      I am also very excited for the caffe and chocolate culture that the the city has. Along with the Torino+Piemonte card, the Chocopass will be the first thing we buy :)

                      Cheers & much thanks again,

                      db

                      1. re: DistendedBelly

                        DB, IMHO a chocopass is a waste of money. It entitles you to 2 days of public transport and coupons for one chocolate from about 15 different cioccolataio's. No one I know has ever used all the coupons, I have a stack in the drawer at home. And you will get all the public transport from your Torino card which is a better deal as it includes museums entrance too. I would pick up the chocolate brochure from any Turin tourist info point and visit a few chocolatiers for a more in depth visit, Pfatisch, Gobino or Peyrano are 3 that come to mind.

                  2. re: barberinibee

                    We ate at Tre Galline many years ago as it was recommended in several guide books as Turin's oldest restaurant and focussed on Piemontese cuisine, it was adequate, but really not up to the wonderful restaurants in the Piedmontese countryside (now we know why Torinese migrate to the country over weekends) and a tad pricey for what they had. The most memorable part was the cheese plate, where we got introduced to Montecenesio Blue cheese, still my favourite. If you like cheese, go to the Porto Palazzo market early mornings for a wonderful selection of Piedmontese mountain valley cheeses.

                    -----
                    Tre Galline
                    Via Gian Francesco Bellezia, 37, Torino, Piemonte 10122, IT

                    1. re: Villasampaguita

                      VS,

                      Not that you are responsible for what gets published in guidebooks, but I thought Del Cambio was Turin's oldest restaurant.

            2. Please remove the Grom link. It is to the wrong city. It would be best to turn off the autolinking for Grom, since it will usually be wrong and there are Grom branches all over italy.

              -----
              Grom
              via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT