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
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
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!
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.
The downside to living in China is that I’m missing all of my friends’ weddings. It’s just too difficult to fly halfway around the world to attend ceremonies when my vacation (and monetary funds) are limited. When one of my closest friends from my MBA program announced over a year ago that she was going to get married in Lugano, I made it my goal to attend. It was an absolutely stunning wedding at Castello di Morcote, an old castle from the 15th century that is now a vineyard.
In true Italian style, we had an apertivo at the top of the mountain with an awesome band and fantastic views of the lake. After the sun set, we moved to a private tent to enjoy dinner.
It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was so happy to be a part of the celebration. This trip was especially meaningful to me because I didn’t attend my MBA graduation in Paris (I was at a job interview in China). Another one of my classmates travelled from Tokyo to attend and the three of us hadn’t been reunited in over two years. It was a double celebration– a wedding and a reunion!
Lago di Lugano
Lugano City Center + Food!
Lugano is a charming city and very reminiscent of Lake Como. The city center revolves around the lake and I loved just how quaint the whole city was. It’s very walkable and there were tons of restaurants and fresh fruit/produce markets. The food was also absolutely delicious and we feasted on pasta and pizza. Obviously, the prices are more expensive in Switzerland compared to Italy, but nothing disappointed our palates.
Colorful Houses in Lugano
One activity that I would HIGHLY recommend is renting out a small, motorized boat for an hour or two to explore the lake. Keep an eye out for boats that have a small, built-in awning so you have some shade in the hot heat. While you could rent a paddle boat, that is absolutely exhausting and not relaxing. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences to be out on the open water and admiring all of the houses.
If you have a chance to visit Lugano, I’d recommend staying at Hotel Walter au Lac. It a boutique hotel that is located right on the lake and in the center of the city. It’s extremely convenient and gives you a chance to really enjoy what Lugano has to offer!
It’s always been a dream of mine to visit Lake Como and that dream finally became a realization this summer. I took a day tour from Milan with Zani Viaggi to visit this famous lake. From Milan, a bus drove us to the city of Como where we visited some sights and then took a two hour boat road to the city of Bellagio. I can definitely see why George Clooney has a villa in Como. It seems like the perfect summer vacation spot. My photos can’t really do justice to just how beautiful the scenery was, but I wanted to share a few.
Bellagio was also a gem. This small city was filled with steep staircases and little stores and restaurants hidden in alleyways. I had a relaxing lunch at La Fontana of fresh pacherri pasta with zucchini and clams and some awesome gelato at Gelateria del Borgo. There were plenty of shops selling handmade Italian leather goods and cookware.
One of my favorite photos in Bellagio
Steep staircases and delicious food in Bellagio
From Bellagio, the bus drove us back to Milan, just in time for dinner. I would highly recommend booking the Lake Como day tour with Zani Viaggi. Our tour guide was extremely friendly and knowledgable and all the logistics were handled very well. You can book a day trip through Viator.com.
Milan is currently hosting the world expo with the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life until October 31, 2015. This was actually my second world expo as I was able to visit the Shanghai World Expo back in 2010. At the expo, each participating country develops a pavilion, which helps to showcase the country’s culture and highlight the expo’s theme. It’s a unique opportunity to see some cool architecture as some countries get really creative with their pavilions.
Expo Entrance Line
I’m not going to lie. Visiting the expo is like visiting Disneyland. Most of the popular pavilions have long lines and you feel like you’re waiting in line for a ride. Compound that with the summer heat and you have a long day ahead of you. It’s definitely worth visiting, but I recommend trying to go on a weekday or even doing the after 7pm night tickets (which are also cheaper). My friend and I went on a Sunday, arrived at 10:30am (expo opens at 10am) and we had to wait an hour just to pass through security.
Top left (clockwise): China Pavilion; Ecuador Pavilion, Vietnam Pavilion; and Holland Pavilion
Of the different countries we visited, I really liked Brazil and Holland. Brazil has an impressive two-story pavilion where the upper level is a giant net that you walk across. I felt like Holland really embraced the food theme because they did a bunch of street carts with Dutch snacks. Italy also had a nice section because each province had its own stand, highlighting the local food and produce from the region.
America Pavilion and Food Truck Central
It probably sounds silly that I ended up eating at USA’s Food Truck Nation stop, but I don’t feel as guilty since I only get to go back to the States once a year. My friend got a cheeseburger and I ordered a New England-style lobster roll. The cheeseburger wasn’t impressive (dry), but the lobster roll was amazing. The bread was a nice soft roll, which was buttered, and filled with fresh lobster. It totally hit the spot, making me a little less homesick.
So is the world expo worth visiting? Yes, I would definitely say it’s worth visiting if you’re in the Northern Italy area. But make sure you wear comfortable shoes, pack a bottle of water and be prepared to wait in some long lines.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.