Ever since mayor Chiara Appendino pledged to make her city more vegetarian/vegan friendly, the city of Turin was at the top of my travel bucket list.
Turin is a northern Italian city of the Piedmont region, which is often famed for its traditional meat and dairy dishes. But usurping this tradition, the drawcard now for visiting Turin is its substantial number of wonderful vegan cafes and restaurants.
Turin’s First Vegan Restaurant
Our first stop was Mezzaluna, a fully vegan restaurant established in 1994. Lunch has many options with impressive veganised Piedmont dishes such as bagna couda. Similar to fondue, bagna couda is traditionally made with butter, anchovies and garlic. Chef and owner Daniela instead uses a type of sea vegetable to achieve the fishy flavour. Mezzaluna’s bagna couda is served on roasted capsicum and is a rich salty flavour hit. If you’re looking to grab some vegan products during your stay, Mezzaluna has a well-stocked grocery store.
For something a little different (and lighter on the stomach) we enjoyed an aperitivo menu at the funky Gorilla Bar. Our tapas meal included falafel balls with aioli, spicy potatoes and a variety of bruschetta. If you’re up for something heartier, there are plenty of vegan burger options too.
The Perfect Dinner
With friendly service, veganised Piedmont dishes and wonderful piazza location, the all-vegan Coox restaurant delivers a meal experience to remember. For entrée, order the L’insalatarussa, a simple vegetable dish traditionally made with egg mayonnaise. For mains, order the Coox Balls (polpette) slathered in a punchy tomato sauce. For mains we devoured La Lasange with its silky smooth pasta and rich seitan ragu sauce. The tiramisu was an elegant last note to a perfect meal. Creamy rich and perfectly spiked with coffee and liqueur, it was a necessary indulgence to end a memorable stay in Italy’s vegan city.
Porta Nuova Train Station
Another honourable mention must go to Turin’s Porta Nuova train station. For a vegan food souvenir, pop into chocolate store Venchi, established in 1878. It has a wide array of vegan options featuring the region’s famed ingredient ‘gianduja’ (a fine paste of ground hazelnuts). For a slightly different food experience, pop into the train station’s well-stocked bookstore, Feltrinelli Express and peruse the shelves of vegan cookbooks for another excellent souvenir.
If you’re looking for the ultimate vegan foodie travel experience, place Italy on your must-see bucket list. Whether north or south, city or countryside, there are always vegan dishes and local produce to indulge in.