Getting a good bowl of pasta in Italy is not particularly hard to do. But certain dishes manage to stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Case in point: the golden house-made tajarin from Piola da Cianci, a bustling restaurant located in a tiny piazza at the centre of Turin.
There are so many reasons why this particular pasta is worthy of a foodie pilgrimage. For one thing, it’s an impeccable example of tajarin, the long thin pasta – golden from egg yolks – that’s similar to tagliatelle and a must-try specialty of the Piedmont region.
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This delicious style of pasta, silky with just the right amount of bite, pairs beautifully with chunkier sauces and can be found in most restaurants across Turin. But for many reasons, Piola da Cianci is the best place to try it.
This restaurant is legendary amongst Turin locals for offering extraordinarily good home cooked food for low low prices. The entire menu is a delight, and features marinated anchovies, local soft cheese with herb sauce, tender slices of roast beef and spectacular slow-cooked pork with a creamy mustard sauce.
But the tajarin is the real star attraction. And it’s the main reason why there is always a long line of hungry people, a mix of locals and tourists, students and professionals, all waiting patiently for a table.
The chefs at Piola da Cianci make theirs in-house every day and serve it with a rolling roster of sauces from cheese and asparagus to slow-cooked lamb ragu to pesto to the ever-popular eggplant, radicchio and sausage.
It might look simple, but don’t be fooled. The magic lies in the taste, the firm bite of the pasta and the savoury joy of the sauce, that you’ll still remember for years to come. It’s truly one of the best plates of pasta you’ll ever eat, and it’s just 5€ a pop, a bargain even by Italian standards.
They don’t take bookings, so be warned that if you go at peak times you could have to wait up to a few hours for a table. But, without doubt, it’s worth it. And you can always pass the time with some people-watching, seated at one of the nearby bars in the same piazza with an icy Aperol spritz in hand.
It shouldn’t be such a surprise to find such a good deal in the heart of Turin, as this city is one of the most underrated destinations in Italy, especially for food lovers.
It’s the city that gave birth to Eataly, the international chain of Italian deli superstores that are a must when in town. There are two branches of Eataly in Turin, a smaller one in the middle of the city plus the epic original store in the Lingotto district, which was opened in 2007 by Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti. Both are worth a visit but it’s the multi-level original that will take your breath away.
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Turin is also located in the middle of one of the best wine regions in the country, where you’ll find impressive grape varieties such as Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera d’Asti. But there’s no need to splash out too much on fancy wine to go with your 5€ pasta. Keeping in line with their policy to keep their prices affordable for all, Piola da Cianci offers genuinely excellent house red or white wine made from a blend of local varietals for just 10€ a litre. Impossible to refuse.