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

barberinibee | Jul 25, 2011 02:49 PM

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 I actually have an outdated copy of Michelin, so I don't know if it is in the current one.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.

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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