Piedmont Food Guide: What and Where to Eat in the Birthplace of Slow Food

Your essential Piedmont food guide for visiting Turin and the cities and towns of Piedmont, Italy’s birthplace of slow food!

Often overshadowed by popular Italian destinations like Florence, Rome, and Venice, Turin in northern Italy’s Piedmont region remains largely under-visited, which in the eyes of slow travelers is the perfect reason to go. With fascinating history, breathtaking scenery, and mouth-watering regional Italian cuisine, this multi-cultural hidden gem has so much to offer.

But Piedmont and its capital city of Turin offer foodies something more than just delectable risotto dishes, alpine cheeses, and heady truffles. The region is the birthplace of Italy’s slow food movement, and the gastronomic beating heart for Italian food evangelists.

As for the food, Turin, Alessandria, Alba, Asti, Bra, and countless other small towns are treasure troves of simple, whole foods that soothe the soul. We hope this guide to the foods of Piedmont and Torino helps you discover one of the most fascinating food regions in Italy

Piedmont food guide

What’s in This Article?

About Piedmont and Turin Italy

Piedmont, Birthplace of Slow Food

Piedmont Food Guide

10 Typical Piedmont Dishes and Where to Try them

About Piedmont and Turin, Italy


The Piedmont region in northern Italy lies north of the Ligurian Sea where Italy’s northwestern arm arches west to the French Riviera. As its name describes, the region really is the Piedmont between the Alps and the sea, though a small bit of Liguria land locks it from the water.

Lying nestled in the embrace of the Italian Alps, the Piedmont is surrounded by mountain peaks which stretch from its border with France to the west northward to Switzerland, then fringing the entire northern border of Italy like fur on a Christmas stocking.

The alpine scenery throughout Piedmont is truly spectacular, and it’s easy to see how mountaineering is a way of life, whether you’re climbing them, admiring them from a distance, or savoring the fruits of their bounty.

And what a bounty you’ll find… this famous wine-producing region boasts the greatest number of classified wines in Italy (12 DOCGs and 46 DOCs) in Italy and is rich in agricultural specialties. Translation? It’s an amazing place for foodies!

So let’s dive in.

Turin, Piedmont, Italy, in the Italian Alps


The capital of Piedmont is Turin, or Torino in Italian, which was the first-ever capital of unified Italy from 1861 to 1865. Today it’s the fourth-largest city in Italy. The urban heart of Piedmont is characterized by Turin’s open-air piazzas, art galleries, and museums, and offers plenty to do for history and art lovers, and movie enthusiasts alike, with attractions such as the Shroud of Turin, the Palazzo Madama, and the Cinema Museum.

Ruled by the House of Savoy for centuries, Turin’s cafe culture as well as its gastronomy has heavy French influences and is distinct from the rest of Italy.

As with many northern Italian regions, Torino foods are so distinct from the rest of Italy, but Turin is also famous for chocolate which is icing on the cake! Since the 16th century, the city served as the European production center for chocolate and it is still THE bucket list place to visit in Italy for chocoholics! 


The Southern Piedmont

But there are other gems in the Piedmont crown as well. Smaller cities like Alessandria and Asti south of Turin offer their own unique attractions. The town of Alba is home to the annual White Truffle International Fair, one of the largest in the world.

And the small town of Bra is the official birthplace of Slow Food, a grassroots organization that’s been promoting the preservation of traditional foods and small-scale agriculture in Italy since 1989. It also hosts a huge annual Piedmont cheese festival.

Now that you’ve got some background on Piedmont and Turin, but before we get into Piedmont (Piemonte) food and all the amazing dishes to enjoy, let me offer a super quick primer on the slow food movement!

Bra, Italy, home of the slow food movement


Piedmont, Birthplace of Slow Food


So the slow food movement was founded in 1989 by political journalist and activist Carlo Petrini when the first McDonald’s in Italy was set to open near the Spanish steps in Rome. This was met by severe backlash from locals and many protested what they perceived as an affront to tourism and food tourism in Italy’s Eternal City. 

Petrini organized an important protest and rallied advocates with bowls of penne pasta instead of placards and signs. The group handed pasta out to the passersby shouting slogans against fast food.

While they failed to keep McDonald’s at bay, they did manage to start a conversation that led to more conversations and slowly, an organized effort emerged into a monumental movement. 

Today, the Slow Food organization is devoted to preserving local Italian food culture and tradition, combating fast-food consumption, and promoting awareness about the impact of our food choices on the world around us. 

With a snail as its logo, the movement based its headquarters in the Piedmont town of Bra and the initiative has brought together artisans and small-scale farmers to work together. The movement has spread across Europe and around the globe, and has resulted in several projects like The Presidia and The Ark of Taste, Earth Markets, and The Terra Madre-Mother.

It also spawned the slow travel movement, a type of travel we cover on slow travel blog Travlinmad, which promotes traveling slowly and spending longer in one place for an immersive experience. 


The manifesto of Slow Food stands for three simple, yet essential ideas:

  1. Good Food: Produced and prepared with care

  2. Wholesome Food: Produced in a way that doesn't harm the environment, promotes biodiversity and doesn't destroy ecosystems.

  3. Right Food: The people who produce or grow the food are fairly compensated for the time, effort, and knowledge they provide. 


The Slow Food movement preserves and protects heirloom seeds, native breeds of animals, as well as traditional recipes. It also promotes organic growing and local purchasing to support farmers and local artisans. 


How Can You Embrace the Slow Food Philosophy?

There are several ways you can implement the Slow Food philosophy on your next trip to Italy.

  • For starters, make an effort to follow the seasons when choosing the dishes you eat at restaurants.

  • Eat local and support regional producers, and seek out slow food experiences whenever you can. 

  • When deciding which restaurant to eat at, look through Slow Food's list of osterias and trattorias, Osterie d’Italia, that adhere to the philosophy of sustainable food.

  • Finally, be on the lookout for Slow Food's snail logo in restaurant windows for their seal of approval. 


Piedmont Food Guide


The mountains of the Alps, the lush green hills of the Langhe, and the fertile Po valley all combine to bestow the Piedmont with a rich and varied culinary tradition that is intertwined with the influence of nearby regions.

Liguria (south), France (west), Switzerland (north), and Lombardy and Milan to the east all influence Piemonte food and the wines from Piedmont Italy to some extent. Ultimately however, it owes its innovative food scene to the fresh ingredients that form the building blocks of the local Piemonte cuisine.

Let’s start with the basic staple foods Piedmont is known for.

Farinata, a typical Piedmont food

The chickpea pancake Farinata with rosemary herb, a typical Piedmont food


Farinata - The first of these Torino foods is Farinata, an unleavened, oven-baked pancake made from gluten-free chickpea flour mixed with water, olive oil, and salt. Sounds like a Sicilian or Calabrese specialty right? But it’s originally from Genoa, Liguria, as its proximity and history with Piedmont now make it a Piedmontese staple.

Grissini - A long, crumble-free, crispbread called ghersin led to the invention of grissini, or "breadsticks" in Italian. This staple was first prepared in 1675 by the court doctor and a local baker to cure the young Duke of Savoy from his chronic digestive problems. 

Biovette Piemontesi - The region of Piedmont brings you Biovette Piemontesi, small pieces of crispy sea salt bread made from wheat, extra virgin olive oil, and herbs. The delicious snack is a great accompaniment to cheese, ham, and olive paté.



Razza Piemontese - Piemontese, or Razza Bovina Piemontese, is a prized breed of cattle native to Piedmont in northern Italy. The beef from this creamy white cow is tender and extremely flavorful.

Offal - Turin and all its neighboring cities in the region pride themselves on their tradition of nose-to-tail eating, which means consuming the whole animal with minimal wastage. Offal and other extremities (organs such as the brain, kidney, and more) are delicacies of the region and feature in a variety of dishes. 

Fish - Lake Maggiore supplies the region of Turin and other cities in Piedmont with delicious fresh-water fish. Despite being land-locked, the region has trade relations with Liguria which supplies the Piedmontese with preserved fish like salted cod and anchovies.


Tajarin - Tajarin is a long, thin, yet flat egg pasta from Turin. Its rich flavor makes it a complete crowd-pleaser with locals and tourists alike. 


Agnolotti - Resembling ravioli in appearance, agnolotti is a pillow-shaped pasta filled with roasted meat and vegetables. A smaller variant known as agnolotti del pin is made by pinching two sheets of pasta for a more curved appearance, unlike the flat agnolotti. 


You may be surprised to find beautiful that Piedmont has prolific rice fields. The town of Vercelli in northern Piedmont and the fertile Po Valley grow some of the best varieties of rice in the world. They are used in risotto and other traditional rice dishes.


Arborio - Arborio, also known as "riso Italiano di qualità" (highest quality Italian rice) is the most renowned variety from this region. Typically wider, longer, and less starchy, it is ideal for risotto and soups. 

Carnaroli - Dubbed the king or caviar of Italian rice, this short-grained variety is resistant to overcooking and makes the creamiest risotto. 


Baldo - A relatively new variety of rice, baldo is very similar to arborio in appearance and starch content. It is the quickest cooking rice used for risotto. 

Balilla (Originaro) - Mostly used for puddings, desserts, and other sweet preparation, the originaro is the oldest variant of rice native to Piedmont.


International Biennial Cheese Festival in Bra with Italian and international foreign cheese products


Bettlematt - This rare, soft toma cheese (farmer’s cheese wheel) known as bettlematt comes from the Val Formmaza in Piedmont. Produced only in the summer months, this amazing Piedmont cheese is made from the milk of the local cows and flavored with a herb that only grows high up in the mountains, called mottolina


Robiola di Roccaverno - A fresh soft cheese made from goat and cow’s milk, Robiola is named after the town of Roccaverno. Cheeses of this type are produced in Langhe, a mountainous region in northwest Italy. 


Castelmagno - Castelmagno is a semi-hard blue cheese that was first produced in the Grana Valley in the 1200s. This regional Italian cheese is found only in the Piedmont province of Cuneo, and is made from cow's milk and occasionally sheep's or goat's milk. The cheese is aged between 2 to 5 months which serve to enhance the subtle flavor of castelmagno, making it stronger and more pungent.


Raschera - Raschera is a semi-hard cheese made from skimmed cow, goat, and sheep milk. Named after the Lake Raschera, situated at the foot of Mount Mongioie, this cheese is traditionally made in the province of Cuneo. 


Paglierina - Produced in Cuneo and Turin, Paglierna is a creamy and soft cheese with a thin rind that is made from cow’s milk. It is aged for 10-20 days and has a buttery, sweet flavor with hints of almond. 


Tomino - Originating in Piedmont, tomino is made from cow's milk and has a soft, pale yellow paste on the inside. This small and round cheese has a milky aroma when fresh which becomes stronger as the cheese matures. 



Bignole - Bignole is a form of pasticceria mignon (small confectionery). It is a bite-sized choux pastry filled with a variety of cream fillings and curds. The flavors range from lemon, chocolate, pistachios, and hazelnuts. 


Torcetti - A traditional pastry sweet treat, the torcetti is made from a dough, similar in taste and appearance to a breadstick. It is rolled in sugar and twisted into a teardrop before baking. 

Specialty Products

Truffles - Among the region's most valuable and delicious products, the world-renowned Italian white truffles from Alba can be found deep within the soil of the Piedmont countryside. When used in pasta dishes, they lend an earthy flavor to a variety of dishes. They taste especially good in late summer and the fall, the traditional harvest season. Outrageously expensive? Of course, but worth every cent.


Hazelnuts - Hazelnuts (nocciole) are native to the Piedmont region and a staple in this area, especially Turin. It's this that resulted in the birth of Gianduia, a kind of chocolate made with cocoa and hazelnut and crema gianduia which was the inspiration for Ferrero’s Nutella. They’re also used in some of the Piedmont’s famous desserts such as hazelnut cake (Torta di Nocciole) and Torrone nougat.


10 typical Piedmont dishes and Where to Try them 


1. Bagna Cauda

  • Where to Try It: Piola Da Celso, Via Verzuolo, 40, Torino — one of the best restaurants in Turin.

Bagna cauda is a creamy sauce made from garlic and anchovies in an olive oil base that is typically served during the autumn and winter months. This sauce is best enjoyed by dipping vegetables in it just like you would fondue. 

Served hot in a heat-retaining fujot or terracotta container that is warmed by a candle placed underneath, it is often accompanied by an assortment of raw, boiled, or roasted vegetables like peppers, carrots, and artichokes.  


2. Bagnet Verd

Dating back to the middle ages, bagne verd is a typical green sauce found throughout Piedmont. Made from a combination of parsley, garlic, anchovies, egg yolks, bread, olive oil, and vinegar, it is served as a condiment with boiled meat or Tomino cheese. 

Vitello Tonnato, specialty Piedmont food

Vitel tonne, typical italian meat with tuna sauce

3. Vitello Tonnato (Vital Tonné0

Vitello Tonnato, or Vitel Tonné, is a famous Piedmontese dish prepared by cooking tender veal marinated in white wine then smothered in a creamy tuna, anchovy, and caper sauce. Invented in the 1700s, the dish is garnished with capers, parsley, anchovies, and lemon slices. This specialty is a holiday favorite in Piedmont.  


4. Finanziera alla Cavour

Finanziera is a stew from the Piedmont region that was first invented in the 18th century. It was known as a poor man's dish from its use of offals and vegetable peels, though this preparation is popular again. If you’re thinking twice about a dish like this, you may be impressed to know the Count of Cavour was fond of this delicacy and often enjoyed it at the Ristorante del Cambio in Turin. 


5. Tajarin

Tajarin or thin angel hair pasta is predominantly served with ragu. However, Tajarin al tartufo bianco d’Alba serves the pasta doused with a simple, yet rich butter sauce flavored with Alba truffles. 


6. Grande Bollito misto

This elaborate main course made from different beef and veal cuts along with a variety of other meats is a winter tradition in Piedmont. It is typically served submerged in a flavorful, piping hot broth accompanied by various side dishes, veggies, and condiments such as bagnetto verde, bagnetto rosso, and mostarda di Cremona. 


Agnolotti, stuffed pasta, Piedmont food

7. Agnolotti 

Agnolotti is the stuffed pasta of the Piedmont, or you might find the smaller Agnolotto del peni. Both pastas are typically stuffed with a veal or pork mixture, although you may find variations with rabbit in the countryside. The simple pasta pouch is traditionally served simply, with a ragu sauce, in a meat broth, or often in a sauce made from butter, sage, and Parmigiano cheese. 


8. Bonet

With origins that date back to the 13th century, bonet is a rich and creamy Italian dessert made from amaretti cookies or hazelnut biscuits, eggs, cocoa powder, milk, sugar, and rum. Drizzled generously with caramel before serving, this decadent dessert is a must-try. 

9.  Brasato al Barolo

  • Where to find it: Scannabue, Largo Saluzzo, 25/h, Torino 

Meaning "braised in Barolo wine", this classic Piedmontese dish uses a slow cooking technique to bring out the rich flavor of the meat. The process of preparation involves marinating beef in wine and aromatic herbs for a week and then cooking it until it falls apart.  

10. Fritto Misto (Fricia)

Fritto Misto, or fricia, is a peculiar and highly addictive deep-fried treat made from bits of lamb, veal, chicken, beef, brains, liver, sweetbread, mushroom, artichoke, cheese, apples, pears, and other vegetables. If you love to graze, this is your dream buffet! Widely available through the Piedmont.


There you have it — all the local foods of Piedmont and where to try them!

Don’t pass up a visit to this fertile region rich with history, grapes, chocolate, agriculture, and specialty foods. It’s practically impossible to find a bad meal and Italy’s Piedmont is nothing less than a food lover's paradise waiting to be explored.