The best meals we’ve had so far in Europe have come through local recommendations and that was definitely the case during our stay in Torino. We had a series of highly average meals (doughy pizza, Italian-style appetiser meals) and it wasn’t until our Airbnb host Massimiliano suggested his family’s favourite local restaurant that we finally had a good meal. “It’s just for locals,” he said. “You won’t see any tourists there.”
That was a good enough recommendation for us, and so we headed off to L’Angolo di Parin. While Max suggested going for dinner (all Italians seem to go out for late dinners – he and his wife would go out for dinner with their two toddlers at about 8.30pm!), K and I decided to go for a more leisurely lunch instead.
Now this is a truly local restaurant – you won’t see translated English menus anywhere, and the waitress who manages the whole dining room doesn’t speak a word of English either. Still, if you’re at all familiar with dining in your local Italian restaurant back home in Australia (or anywhere else), you’ll no doubt have picked up enough of the language to figure out the basics. Indeed, we knew enough to order the daily set lunch – one of the Menu Carne (meat menu) and one of the Menu Vegetariano (vegetarian menu) at $10 Euro each.
Included in the ridiculously low set lunch menu price is some complimentary bread, a drink each, and a coffee. You don’t need to worry about the usual touristy restaurant scam of being charged for bread that you didn’t ask for – the Torino locals in this neighbourhood wouldn’t stand for that kind of nonsense! The bread has a nice crunch to it, no doubt freshly baked that morning at the local bakery.
The first course of my vegetarian set menu is a polenta dish with broccoli bolognaise on top. I love the idea of a broccoli bolognaise, and can see some of my friends who are parents embracing it as a way of hiding vegetables in a meal for their kids! It works for adults like me as well, especially when the polenta is cooked as it was at L’Angolo di Parin – smoothly and without the customary grittiness. A winner of a dish, especially with the subtle sprinkle of tasty parmesan on top.
K’s first course was a beef ravioli in a creamy cheesy sauce. This was the first properly Italian pasta meal we’d had in Torino, with pasta that was clearly home-made rather than bought in. You could tell by the slightly rougher edges of the ravioli that the elderly chef who we glimpsed in the kitchen had been the one to make this ravioli, either that morning or the day before. While I personally found the meat in the ravioli quite strong (I prefer white meat over dark), K enjoyed the beefy meatiness.
My main meal was crepe-wrapped roast vegetables – an interesting concept that I had never really considered making before, nor had I ever seen it on the menu in any Italian restaurant in Australia. I expect that it’s quite a localised specialty, especially given that Torino is so close to the French border. In any case, I loved the smoky caramelisation on the roasted vegetables, but did feel that the crepe had gotten a bit too soggy in the sauce.
K’s main course was thin slices of roast veal with fresh roasted potatoes. The veal had been crusted with a peppery herbed crust prior to roasting, which gave it a nice kick. The gravy was very rich and more-ish as well, and went well with the veal.
I’ve not had the chance to write about potatoes in Europe (what a topic!) yet, but I’m beginning to see why it seems to be used so widely – all the varieties that we’ve had have all been absolutely chock full of earthy flavour, unlike the bland watery potatoes we seem to get in Australia. That makes the humble potato much better for mashing, roasting, frying, turning into chips…you name it, potatoes in Europe are a lot more flavourful than I’ve ever had in Australia. The potatoes in this dish were no exception.
Coffee is a very important part of Italian culture, and every lunch set menu in any restaurant will include a coffee to finish the meal. K had his strong bitter Italian espresso, but I chose to shock the waitress and insult Italian culture by refusing a coffee. Unfortunately, I just don’t like it and choose not to have coffee at all – which isn’t winning me any friends in Europe!
The waitress clearly decided to forgive me for my coffee faux pas though, as she insisted to us in Italian that we try some of their house-made “dolci” or dessert, specifically the limoncello tart. We were in no fit state to argue with her in a language of which we know only ten words, so “Si, si” it was, and dessert came out to our table. Word to the wise – when a middle-aged Italian waitress tells you to order the dessert, order the dessert. You won’t regret it.
This limoncello tart was equal parts sweet and tart, with just the right amount of booziness in the background to give it a bit of a kick. The sweet sponge was light and fluffy, and the limoncello custard just creamy enough. Perfection.
I would go back to L’Angolo di Parin in a heartbeat the next time I’m in Torino. They serve up fantastic, simple, home-made food with love, and a great price. While it’s not too far away from the city centre, it’s far enough to ensure that you’re venturing ‘off the beaten path’ and having a truly local experience. Just make sure to brush up on your Italian before you go!
L’Angolo di Parin is located at via Bernardino Galliari 29, Torino.