Even before coming to Torino, I’ve read about about Del Cambio. And upon spending a mere day in this quietly beautiful city, her name was mentioned, not once but twice, as the must-try restaurant in Torino. Apart from being the oldest restaurant in the city, Del Cambio is also known for her exquisite cuisine, immaculate service and Michelin Star award.
We decided to head there for lunch on a cold December afternoon. Without a reservation… ! Hmm.. will they turn me away without a booking? I guess we’ll see..! We stepped through the elegant front door of Del Cambio and were warmly greeted. I announced that we didn’t have a reservation and “just wanna grab some lunch”. “Oh! Not a problem!”, the hostess replied with a smile, and lead us to a barely-filled dining hall. Phew! I wasn’t ready to walk back out into the bloody cold looking for another place to eat!
As we sat down, I immediately noticed how beautiful the place was. Decked in rich hues of crimson velvets and dark woods against pristine white table cloths, white cascading feathered foliage, glittery Victorian crystal chandeliers and gilded mirrors. Deep red roses adorn every table, and the grand centerpiece in the middle of the luxurious room. A dozen Maitre d’s darted about like ballerinas in sharp suits. Smiling and making eye contact discreetly. Service was on point. You can’t help but feel you’re in good hands.
Del Cambio continues to specialize in local Piedmont Classics like it did from day one. Now at the helm of Chef Matteo Baronetto, who has injected his personal style in the century-old recipes; the outcome is nothing but exquisite. Never mind how it tasted centuries ago; I was all for the clean uncluttered tastes and flavors that unfolded before me.
As we began our meal, the restaurant starts to fill up. and before long, it was completely full. The pace quickens, but only for the staff. We never felt rushed or pressured to move on! As a matter of fact, by the time we were done with our post lunch Macchiatos, it was 3 o’clock.
On to the food now…
Vitello Tonato (Veal with Tuna Sauce) is native to Torino, plus its a dish I have, in the last few years favored over a former favorite, Beef Carpaccio. So it had to be ordered, without a doubt. Del Cambio’s VT was absolutely wonderful! The chilled veal, despite being sliced rather thick, was super tender and carried a very subtle beefy flavor to it. The tuna sauce was creamy with a slight tartness. It paired superbly with the veal, the flavors were well balanced and the crunch from the crisp vegetables added on a refreshing bite to the whole combo. You could taste the freshness in all three components. This was so terrific and it’s set the bar so high for the next Vitello Tonato!
Piedmontese Agnolotti, Torino’s signature pasta, can be found at every restaurant. I am not big on stuffed pasta, and just the day before, I had an Agnolotti which was just okay. But our server was very convincing and promised theirs is like no others, so here we go again! At first look, Cambio’s Agnolotti already fared way more handsome. The translucent pasta was thinly rolled out and soft to the bite. Those little paunches are filled to the limit with flavorful tender veal. And unlike the ragu sauce I had previously, this one was dressed in a much lighter sauce made from the veal jus. I can see why it is on every table as I pried around the room.
Pumpkin Soup, Cod and Chestnuts – It was no soup; but a sweet creamy pumpkin purée holding the softest, flakiest cod fillets in place. Glad it wasn’t plain old soup cuz THIS was really good! The fish was fresh and juicy with just a tinge of salt to bring out the natural sweetness. The flesh breaks apart at the gentle touch of a fork. The pumpkin was puréed to a silky smooth finish. It was rich and not overly sweet. Goes perfectly with the steamed baby cauliflower florets which I used to wipe the plate down! What was sweet, were those lovely tender chestnuts! Firm on first bite into a fluffy center. And yes, sweet like syrup!
Veal Navarin, Celeriac Mash and Charcoal grilled Radicchio. Well, you had me at Radicchio! Smokey from the grill with bits of burnt leaves. There should be, like a whole bed of these!! I was expecting a thick stew kinda veal but instead the sauce seemed more like a reduction of jus. Expectantly, the veal was tender at medium rare. I found the celeriac mash rather ordinary. The entire combo was relatively simple, didn’t quite blow me away, but the clean distinct flavors kinda made everything work.
Fear not if you like a little sugar after dinner but don’t have room for it. At Del Cambio’s, they send you a little tower of petit fours to sweeten your meal. And if that’s not enough, perhaps some healthy apple chips or chilled white chocolate ice cream balls?
And did I mention the complimentary appetizers while you await your food? We happily munched on crispy rainbow vegetable crackers and bite-sized tidbits while we admired the lush ambiance of Del Cambio’s.
Del Cambio does not have a wine list.. she has a wine bible! After much deliberation, we found a delicious bottle under “Rare Wines”.
Having started in 1757 (geez! That.Is.Old!!) and hosted names like Audrey Hepburn, Verdi and the First Prime Minister of Italy. Del Cambio has become a must visit for many people. Located right in the square of the equally beautiful Piazza Carignano, within an immaculately maintained historical building, the renowned restaurant has remained a must-try for anyone who asks. So, if you are ever in the neighborhood…! But probably wise to pre book a table!
The Del Cambio experience was indeed memorable. The food was uncomplicated yet exquisite. The place was very comfortable, very beautiful and very plush in every possible sense. The service, immaculate! Definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the city.
Ristorante Del Cambio @ Piazza Carignano, 2. 10123 Turin. Italy. Phone +39 011 546690