Turin Eats: Poormanger's Loaded Baked Potatoes
For our post-Milan Design Week weekend in Turin, we actually only had one full day, and hadn’t made any plans yet. Originally, we tried to go to a restaurant that our Airbnb host had recommended, Porto di Savona, but they were full. Instead, we made a reservation to return for dinner. Thinking about an alternative for lunch then, I suddenly remembered a place we passed by the night before nearby. It looked quite popular, and had a warm, casual feeling to it.
At first, judging by the lines outside of people waiting, it looked like this restaurant would also be full for lunch.
But actually the line went pretty quickly to reach the host, and we lucked out in that a table outside was available right away for three people. The table was actually around the corner, in their other covered terrace. Actually, all throughout Turin, restaurants and bars have claimed spaces that otherwise would go for cars, which is good idea to create lively streets.
The system here was that the host gave us the table number and told us where it was, but we first entered the restaurant, where we could see the cooks preparing the food…
…then we pick up our own silverware in these paper packets (the writing on the bottom says “How do you want me?” with the outline of a potato in the middle, giving a clue to this restaurant’s specialty)…
…inside, we also requested English menus (Italian menus were on the table already), and finally we picked up our own drinks from a fridge, which we then brought to our assigned table. I thought it was cool that they had a special Turin cola, called Mole Cola, after the Mole Antonelliana. Its distinctive silhouette is outlined in bubbles! I tried the Chinotto soda - I always like trying something that I have no clue about. But in this case, it was actually a case of amnesia that led me to Chinotto, because I later realized that I had indeed tried this exact soda once or twice before, precisely because every time I saw it, it looked so exotic! And unfortunately it’s not a flavor I like very much, reminding me very much of Chinese/Taiwanese sour plum drinks (酸梅湯).
You can see on the menu, “Who eat potatoes, never dies” - this is a restaurant that specializes in baked potatoes! (I just checked up the words on the Italian menu - they seem to be lyrics from a song “Ma il cielo è sempre più blu” by Rino Gaetano, which also refers to eating potatoes.)
The menu in Italian…
…and then in English. “Jacket Potatoes” is the British way of saying “Baked Potatoes!”
While the main event were clearly the baked potatoes, the antipasti sounded really tempting. We had to, of course, get the Vitello Tonnato, a Piedmont specialty of thinly sliced veal with tuna sauce. Wrapped in little parcels, this was fresh and light. Kind of amazing how meat and tuna would go together well.
We also got the “Selection of Piedmontese starters,” since it seemed to offer a good variety.
This tin contained anchovies covered in a green sauce, “acciughe al verde.” I loved the herby, spreadable green sauce with bread, while anchovies are no longer really exotic for me, coming from Spain. In another restaurant, I actually saw them proudly advertise that their anchovies were from the Cantabrian Sea, so they might have well come from Spain, too! I believe the green sauce is called bagnet verd in the Piedmontese dialect, and contains different herbs like parsley.
Next was something that a friend had told me about before this trip: the local specialty, raw sausage “salsiccia di Bra”! Yes, it’s pork chopped up and seasoned. Soft, but with a surprisingly bold flavor, I quite liked it. This was topped with Grana Padano.
There was also a small glass of butter. And finally, we had tomino cheese. This was something I had had the night before at Beerba. It’s a cheese made in the region of Langhe, Southern Piedmont, where Turin is located. And while it looks like goat cheese, has a slight tang reminiscent of goat cheese, it’s made from cow’s milk. It’s also fluffier than the goat cheese I’m used to. The light, creamy texture and that slight acidity made me fall in love with this cheese in Turin!
Next came our baked potatoes.
I ordered one with a Castelmagno cheese fondue (another local cheese), turnip tops, and hazelnuts. Like the night before at Beerba, I again was looking forward to eating vegetables, and the combination with the cheese and hazelnuts - another local specialty (hence gianduja/Nutella!) - was quite special.
My sister and friend ordered the Carbonara, with egg cream, pecorino, and what looked like bacon (though the menu said pork cheek).
Not surprisingly, the starters combined with the huge baked potatoes were quite filling, but I really wanted to try one of their desserts. So besides an espresso macchiato, I also ordered the panna cotta with pistachio and almonds. Wow! I love how this was just barely sweet. The panna cotta was milky, while the pistachio was a pistachio cream. I had had sweet pistachio cream in gelato before, but this was a revelation. Not sweet, it was more like a liquidy peanut butter - with a rich, pure pistachio flavor. The sliced almonds provided a wonderful textural contrast.
Poormanger probably wouldn’t have surfaced in any internet search, had I planned out the Turin leg of my trip. The idea of stuffed baked potatoes wouldn’t have been something that I would put on my list of must-eats. I really only realized that this restaurant was all about baked potatoes while looking through the kitchen window while waiting in line for the host! But I’m glad we came across this place and waited in line, because the casual atmosphere, and the ability to try out some excellent new dishes made this unplanned lunch spot a success.
2 locations: Via Maria Vittoria, 36/B, and Via Palazzo di Città, 26/B