Mangia in Turin

Porto di Savona

Porto di Savona in Turin

I’ve been very fortunate to travel to Turin a few times in the past year for work and it’s been an amazing opportunity to explore a city that I probably would have normally never seen. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite spots to eat in the city.

Fried Mixed Plate, Vitello Tonnato and Truffle Risotto

Fried Mixed Plate, Vitello Tonnato and Truffle Risotto

Porta di Savona (Piazza Vittorio Veneto 2) is a popular destination for tourists. Set in a beautiful outdoor square with a fantastic view, this is one of the famous restaurants in Turin to get classic Piedmontese cuisine. I’ll admit that the food is here is definitely solid, but you come here more for the ambiance. It’s a great place to have an outdoor meal, have a nice glass of wine or spritzer, and watch the street transform from day to night. One of the most interesting dishes I saw was a mixed plate of savory and sweet fried food. On one plate, you can taste deep-fried lamb and pork and end the meal with deep-fried apple and pineapple. It was quite unique because you don’t normally have your dessert mixed with your main meal, but I liked it. I would definitely recommend the pastas at Porta di Savona (I tasted an amazing gnocchi) and be sure to make reservations because this is a popular destination!

Da Cianci Piolo Caffe

Da Cianci Piolo Caffe

I found Da Cianci Piola Caffe (Largo 4 Marzo 9/b) by researching restaurants that locals recommended. Torinos love this small restaurant for the extremely cheap prices but good food. The restaurant was a little difficult to find because there are three cafés right next to each other and no discernible sign. So stay on the lookout for tables with yellow placemats and napkins. The menu is very small with a few appetizers, two types of pasta with different daily sauces and three main courses. I ordered the vitello tonnato, which is thinly sliced cold veal topped with a tuna and mayonnaise sauce. As you will soon see from all of my food photos in this post, I became obsessed with vitello tonnato and ordered it at every single restaurant. The combination sounds extremely strange, but it surprisingly works. You have a creamy tuna topping (kind of like an elevated tuna salad), which adds a punch of flavor to the more bland veal. For my main dish, I ordered the chicche with eggplant sugo sauce and shredded ricotta. I really loved the chicche, which is basically a potato based pasta like gnocchi, but it has a slightly different texture. The sugo sauce was just so incredibly flavorful (must be all the fresh tomatoes in Italy) and the shredded cheese was a nice salty complement. The appetizers are around 6 EUR and the pastas are 6 EUR so you can easily have a meal here for less than 15 EUR!

Piazza Castello

Piazza Castello

Dinner at Il Circolo

Dinner at Il Circolo

The best meal that I had in Turin was at the restaurant at Il Circolo dei Lettori (Via Bogino 9). Il Circolo dei Lettori is actually an old building that is now a public space devoted to reading. Every month, they hold various events like book signings or events for kids. You can even rent out the beautiful rooms for a private event. In the basement is the restaurant where we had an incredible set menu. Highlights for me were the raw steak tartare, which is served very differently from its French counterpart. This raw meat isn’t seasoned with much other than salt, pepper and very high quality olive oil so you’re really able to taste how fresh it is. I really love their rendition of vitello tonnato because the veal was so tender. The meal continued on with fried zucchini flour with an Italian quiche (quite possibly my favorite course) and fresh homemade pasta with porcini mushrooms. While they were both delicious it was a struggle to finish my beef dish and chocolate cake only because we had so many courses! I would completely recommend this restaurant as a place to celebrate a special occasion or take a business client. Continue reading

Milan Street Eats

Milan: cioccolati italiani gelato

Milan: Cioccolati Italiani gelato

This summer was quite busy with two trips to Italy (one for work and one for play) and so there’s plenty of delicious Milan street eats to share! Probably one of my favorite gelato shops is Cioccolati Italiani (Via San Raffaele 6), which is right behind Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The best part about this place is that you can choose a flavor of melted chocolate (white, milk or dark) to add to your cone. Talk about the best idea ever! It reminded me of being a kid and eating a Nestle Drumstick and having the last bite be filled with delectable chocolate. While they are famous for their chocolate flavors, I find them too rich (it was the first time I couldn’t finish my gelato). I definitely prefer the fruit and yogurt or fruit and fior di latte combination.

Luini Panzerotti

Luini Panzerotti

Right across the street from Cioccolati Italiani is the famous Luini Panzerotti (Via Santa Radegonda,16). Panzerotti is basically a mini calzone but with a more fluffy dough. Luini offers sweet and salty panzerotti that are either baked or fried. My friend and I ordered one fried ham and mozzarella and one ricotta and cheese. The sweet one did not do much for me because they’re baked and with a more cookie-like dough. The savory one was definitely more promising, but I almost wish they could be served hotter and fresher. With a huge line out the door, they already have them prepared and in a glass case so I can understand wanting to move the line quickly. Considering the hype, it was a little disappointing. I’d recommend saving more room in your stomach for gelato.

Spontini Pizza

Spontini Pizza

One of the best things that I ate was the deep dish pizza at Spontini (Via Santa Radegonda 11). There are quite a few of them in Milan, but the one I ate at was also close to Luini. This pizzeria is super casual and only has standing tables to eat at. They only offer three types of pizza, but it’s reasonably priced at about 3-5 EUR/piece. I loved this pizza and it’s piled high with fresh tomato sauce and LOTS of cheese.

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Shanghai: Brunch at Liquid Laundry and Cambio Coffee

Liquid Laundry

Liquid Laundry

I’ve already talked about dinner at Liquid Laundry (1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu; 淮海中路1028号), but I think I discovered one of my favorite brunch spots. I’m not the only one who must share this opinion because it was nearly impossible to make brunch reservations.

Green Eggs & Ham and a Bacon Flight

Green Eggs & Ham and a Bacon Flight

I literally wanted to order everything on the menu, but my friend and I settled on green eggs and ham, a bacon flight and Korean fried chicken sandwich. My green eggs and ham was seed toast topped with poached eggs, avocado, ham, spinach, and Goddess dressing. I could not believe how big the portion was. The toast was a thick slice of bread with two perfectly poached eggs and a healthy dose of avocado. I really enjoyed the combination of everything on my plate and was happy to share it because I couldn’t even finish. Our bacon flight came with three flavors: sweet maple, spicy habanero and coffee cured. The bacon is delicious, but the spicy habanero is not for the faint of heart. It was SO spicy, but the type of spicy that creeps up on you and feels like is burning a hole in your mouth.

Liquid Laundry Fried Chicken Sandwich

Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich

I loved this fried chicken sandwich. The bun was soft and fluffy, the chicken was crispy and moist, and the Sriracha aioli with coleslaw had the perfect kick. I think the best surprise was the fact that they add bits of ramen noodles for that extra crunch (seriously genius). I can’t wait to go back and eat that sandwich again. I appreciate that Liquid Laundry serves American-sized portions and it’s the perfect place to go with a group of friends so you can share a bunch of dishes.

Cambio Coffee

Cambio Coffee

Shanghai is finally starting to get a little bit warmer and it begs for catching up with friends over a nice cup of coffee. I’ve been on the hunt for new cafés and came across Cambio Coffee (861 Jiangning Lu; 江宁路861号). It’s a small place with a few indoor and outdoor seats.

Drinks at Cambio Coffee

Drinks at Cambio Coffee

I had a cappuccino and while it wasn’t life-changing, it was a solid cup of coffee. I liked that it was a little bit quieter than Sumerian, which is always packed on the weekends and rarely has free tables. The only downside to Cambio is that it’s not really close to any metro stops. While it’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee if you’re in the neighborhood, I don’t think I’d go out of my way just to get coffee there.

Shanghai: Healthy Eats at Hunter Gatherer

Meal at Hunter Gatherer

Meal at Hunter Gatherer

One of my friends recently asked me if I knew of any gluten-free restaurants in Shanghai. I had zero clue, but I suggested Hunter Gatherer (308 Anfu Rd; 安福路308号) as it had been on my radar as a healthy option. It didn’t feel right recommending a restaurant that I had never tried before so I decided to check it off my list.

Grocery Concept Store

Grocery Concept Store

Hunter Gatherer is a two-story hybrid grocery store/fast casual eatery. Throughout the store, you’ll find fresh organic veggies, artisanal sauces, healthy snacks and even a DIY peanut butter and almond butter machines. It’s really quite impressive and reminded me of Green & Safe in the French Concession. Besides the myriad of groceries, you can also sit down for a quick meal.

Pre-made Meals

Pre-made Meals

For 62 RMB, you can have a Chipotle-style, nourishing bowl. My understanding is that the menu rotates based on a seasonal produce, but you start with a base, add a protein and then pick two veggie sides. My plate had a quinoa and spinach base, oven-roasted chicken, brussels spouts and an apple & kale salad. For 20 RMB more, you can add a bowl of soup.

Meal Options at Hunter Gatherer

Meal Options at Hunter Gatherer

It’s not a huge portion so if you tend to eat more, I’d recommend getting a bowl of soup or saving room for one of their baked goods. The food is a solid meal for a fresh and healthy option. The chicken was very tender and actually moist and I ended up like the brussels sprouts best out of my assortment plate. It’s not terribly flavorful food, but they have a wide variety of different homemade sauces that you can use to liven up your bowl (their hot sauce definitely had some heat).

Hunter Gatherer Seating Area

Hunter Gatherer Seating Area

I like that there are more healthy options in Shanghai and hope the trend continues. While I was sitting there, I felt like I was in a hip grocery store in New York or San Francisco. I would definitely go back and happily recommend it to any friends who had dietary restrictions (or just plain wanted to eat healthy).

Buon Appetito in Turin and Milan

Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio in Turin, Italy

Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio in Turin, Italy

Last month, I had a business trip to Turin and Milan, Italy. While it was a jam-packed and busy trip, there was still plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent food in Italy. I’ll start with highlights from Milan.

Trattoria del Pescatore in Milan

Trattoria del Pescatore in Milan

One of my Italian colleagues is also a big foodie and he had recommended a couple of restaurants in Milan. He raved about Trattoria del Pescatore (Via Atto Vannucci, 5). I ended up eating there last minute and I kept calling in hopes of making a lunch reservation. Since they didn’t pick up the phone, I showed up right when they opened at 12:30pm (hence the photo of an empty restaurant). The restaurant owners and waiters were so kind to me and gave me a corner seat. I ordered the bottarga (salted cured roe) and clams spaghetti and Catalan-style lobster. The lobster is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely a lot of work to eat. I rolled up my sleeves, used my lobster cracker and dug in with my fingers. While the lobster flesh was incredibly tasty, it was much smaller than I expected and expensive. I’d gladly go back and try other dishes. Reservations are an absolute must. The place was packed and they had to turn people away. I really enjoyed the atmosphere because the customers were all locals and a lot of them were regulars. It was really fun to watch the interaction of the staff with some of their most loyal customers.

Giulio Pane e Ojo in Milan

Giulio Pane e Ojo in Milan

Giulio Pane e Ojo (Via Ludovico Muratori, 10) was also recommended to me for their Roman-style food. It was a really quaint restaurant and extremely popular. I enjoyed a delicious bucatini with a slightly spicy tomato sauce with slices of pancetta and a beautiful medium-rare steak. I basically ate red meat every chance I could get since the steak in China is so expensive. Giulio Pane e Ojo must be written up in a lot of tourist reviews because the entire restaurant was foreigners. Next to me was a Russian couple, across from me was British couple and on the other side of the room was a table full of Americans. It didn’t quite have that same local Italian feel that Trattoria del Pescatore had.

Il Giardino dei Segreti in Milan

Il Giardino dei Segreti in Milan

I’ve written about Il Giardino de Segreti (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 17) before, but I had to mention it again. It was the best meal I had in Milan and it was just as good as I remembered. It’s the best bottarga spaghetti I’ve ever had and the tagliata (rare meat) was amazing. The tagliata is very thinly sliced beef and they serve it rare. I made the mistake of ordering it medium rare. Since the plate it’s served on is very hot, the beef actually continues to cook after being served. So my medium rare became too well-done for my taste. It’s better to just let them serve it their classic house style.

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Shanghai Sandwiches: Co. Cheese Melt Bar vs. Market 101 by Goga

Co. Cheese Melt Bar

Co. Cheese Melt Bar

I love sandwiches. It’s one of the things I miss most from the States. Recently, more and more sandwich shops have popped up in Shanghai. I felt it was my duty to try them and report back.

Co. Cheese Melt Bar (32 Yuyuan Dong Lu; 愚园东路32号) opened just a few months ago in Shanghai. It’s a small establishment with mostly counter seating and only a couple of high tables. You definitely can’t come here with a big group of people. While you can choose your own sandwich fixings, I’d recommend picking one of the twelve gourmet cheese melts.

Avocado, Ham, Pear, Brie and Arugula Grilled Cheese

Avocado, Ham, Pear, Brie and Arugula Grilled Cheese

There were too many choices to pick from so my friend and I decided to split three sandwiches between the two of us. We ordered: 1) Avocado, ham, pear, brie and arugula, 2) Double Glouchester cheese, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, turkey and stuffing, and 3) Kraft Mac & Cheese, cheddar and gouda. All sandwiches are served with a small serving of potato chips and homemade pickled goods. The avocado, ham, pear, brie and arugula sandwich felt like a fancy grilled cheese sandwich. I really enjoyed the combination and it was the “lightest” of the three.

Thanksgiving Dinner Sandwich

Thanksgiving Dinner Sandwich

The Thanksgiving dinner is an incredibly clever idea. It basically reminded me of the wonderful period of time after Thanksgiving when you basically eat Thanksgiving leftovers for a week. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of cheese, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. It’s definitely a filling sandwich.

Kraft Mac & Cheese Sandwich

Kraft Mac & Cheese Sandwich

I think my favorite was actually the Kraft Mac & Cheese sandwich. It tasted like my childhood in a sandwich. I really liked the creativity that the owner, Greg, had with all of his sandwich ideas. Next time, I would add avocado to the sandwich and order myself a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup to dip that bad boy in. While the sandwiches were delicious, my only complaint was that the wait was really long. The place wasn’t even full and we definitely waited over 20 minutes for our food. I guess on the bright side, while you’re waiting for your food, you can hop over next door to CinnaSwirl and get yourself an amazing cinnamon roll.

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