Locanda da Betty
Via Giambattista Bogino, 17
All the while that we had been in Turin we had tried the famous Bicerin at Caffe Mulassano, we had ploughed our way through the enormous aperitivo offering at Arancia di Mezzanotte and sampled pizza at Pizza Ad Hoc. One thing that we hadn’t done was check out a local trattoria for a true taste of Piedmontese cooking.
We were either getting lazy or the miles walked on this trip were beginning to take their toll – either way we just wanted somewhere within a couple of streets of our hotel based at Piazza Carlo Emanuele II. We found what looked like a decent place that ticked the boxes, particularly as they serve the traditional Piedmonte dish of agnolotti, small parcels of pasta halfway between ravioli and tortellini. This place was Locanda da Betty a mere two streets from our base.
After a two minute walk we arrived outside the restaurant which appeared quiet for a midweek lunchtime. The service seemingly comprised of a friendly lady who spoke a small amount of English to go with our small amount of Italian and a gentleman behind the bar who didn’t speak at all. We opted to sit outside on the small terrace as the weather was decent. English translations are available on the menu’s provided which is a big help for those of you not overly familiar with the Italian language.
After our experience at E Prie Rosse in Genoa with their ‘to die for’ ham and cheese board we went ahead and ordered the Turin version at €16 (£14.11) to split between us. Also present amongst the starters is the Vitello Tonnato – thinly sliced veal with tuna, mayonnaise and caper sauce. The very same dish that I fell in love with at Arancia di Mezzanotte although this time around the board won.
What is it with Italian deli items? This board was another winner. Sensational cheese again provided with a pot of honey. A blue cheese flavoured with thyme leaves was my absolute favourite amongst the quality hams and accompanying cheeses. Simple food that speaks for itself, no need to do anything to it just slice it up and serve. Very good indeed.
We washed down our deli board with some rather nice house red at €7 (£6.18) which came in a large carafe bottle. Main courses were a tough call until i spotted the agnolotti with ragu. Ali also had pasta on the brain and went for the pesto and spaghetti. Both dishes came in at a modest €9 (£7.94) and are freshly prepared in house as was the case with pretty much all places specialising in pasta on our trip.
The agnolotti arrived looking simple, fresh and a little on the dry side. Anyone who cooks bolognese or ‘ragu’ at home in England often drowns the spaghetti with a wet sauce but here in Italy the sauce is a lot dryer and far more intense as a result. The pasta just melted away in the mouth and the ragu was packed with flavour, in many ways the agnolotti is a lot lighter than ravioli or a larger pasta and therefore more of a pleasure to eat. That being said I was beginning to feel rather full.
The pesto spaghetti was a triumph also and a decent nod to our friends in Genoa. Very fresh and vibrant green complete with a garnish of crushed pine nuts. Each portion that we received was pretty much spot on for our appetite as it can be a drag eating yourself into oblivion and still seeing a mountain of pasta remaining on the plate.
This trip had contained a serious lack of desserts so we decided to right that wrong and ask for the dessert menu which came in the form of a man, the very same man who had been behind the bar when we arrived. He reeled off the dessert’s that the kitchen had left which went a little bit like ‘So err…..you like errr….zabaglione, you know zabaglione? *I nod* yes..er….well we have some of this….’ to be fair I would have done shockingly in his native language so the effort was much appreciated. We opted for a pannacotta to share as he stated abruptly that they only had one left which happened to be chocolate flavour.
What arrived was a perfectly set dessert decorated with chocolate sauce and crushed amaretti. My word this was good and it hurt a bit to just have one to share, at one point both of us must have considered just taking the plate and running. Smooth set chocolate cream and intense chocolate sauce – oh yeah, I liked this. I liked this a lot.
We approached the desk to pay our bill as that’s what fellow diners seemed to be doing. The man who had doubled as the dessert menu calculated our bill and presented us with the final figure of €52 (£45) which we were happy with. The service throughout hadn’t been particularly quick but when you’ve been hit hard by a rich plate of pasta that can sometimes be a blessing.
This place really is a good spot to get to grips with Turin’s traditional cuisine – especially when the execution of the food is this good. The three courses that we were presented with were all sublime and continue to live on in the memory leading me to highly recommend a trip to Locanda da Betty when in Turin.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 1230-1430, 2000-2230
Nearest Metro: Re Umberto