When one of my favorite restaurants in Torino, Consorzio, decided to open a new, more casual place, I was pretty sure I was going to like it. What I didn’t realize is how much I would love it.
The new place, Banco Vino Alimenti, is around the corner, still in the quadrilatero neighborhood. While Consorzio was never super fancy, it was a real restaurant, and pretty hard to get a reservation at one of their dozen or so tables. Instead, Banco Vino Alimenti is much more casual , both in feeling as well as menu. In fact, the evening I was there it felt as if I had stepped, happily, into someone’s private party. But in a good way.
Although I had called and reserved a table, on a weeknight in the middle of January, I needn’t have. And in fact people came and went all evening long. And when I say people, I actually mean men. I was the only woman there the entire night. Which should have felt odd, but didn’t. And all those men were obviously in the wine and/or restaurant business, stopping by for a drink, or a bite or both. It all felt so intimate that I kept thinking I knew one of the guys at the table next to mine until I realized he was the winner of last seasons Italian edition of Master Chef. It’s that kind of place too.
The space is bright and cheerful and the entire length of one side is taken up by a counter, or banco which the name refers to. Half of the counter is a bar, with stools, and the other half displays all sorts of cheese, cured meats and other good stuff. Of course there is huge red Berkel slicer.
While I was looking at the menu, trying to decide what to order, a slice of mortadella appeared before me. Actually, I knew it was coming, since it was so aromatic it turned my head. Cut on the aforementioned slicer, paper thin, it was served with a dollop of salsa verde.
The menu is a mixture of small plates, and none are too expensive. The waiter, Giacomo, kindly helped me to decide what would work, suggesting (very wisely) some of the best of their dishes
I started with a little panino filled with slow cooked pork, and spread with a paprika mayonnaise, served with raw scallions and on a steamed bun. It was soft, and crunchy, and salty and sweet. I’m not sure how they packed so much into a little panino. A glass of Sauvignon was perfect with it.
Next up was slow cooked, lacquered pork ribs with a slightly spicy mayonnaise. Outstanding. Like finger licking good. The meat was perfectly cooked, falling off the bone, in a salty sweet sauce that ( I know I already said this) had me licking my fingers. Giacomo, chose another wine to pair with the fatty ribs and it was perfect. It had a very odd nose, very oxidized, but the taste was anything but. And the sharpness paired perfectly with the sweet fatty pork: Casina degli Ulivi’s biodymanic Semplicemente Vino: Bellotti Rosa.
Even though I was beyond full, I finished with a cute little ice cream sandwich, unlike any I’d had before.
This was arguably some of the best food I’ve had in a long time and very representative of the new trend in dining that’s going on not just in Torino, but in Italy in general. High attention to quality and inventive, creative but absolutely delicious food served in an unpretentious and relaxing setting at a fair price. Yay!!!
I was up in Torino in late January, finishing up my newest app, Eat Torino. I’m happy to say it’s now officially finished and for sale!! It is part of my app Eat Italy, which is a free app and available for download on iTunes. Eat Torino can be found as an in-app purchase. I’m still adding a few things to it, but wanted to get it up sooner rather than later, since so many of you were asking. If you buy it now, don’t worry, you’ll keep receiving all the updates (coming very very soon).
Banco Vino Alimenti
Via Mercanti 13, Torino
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 12:30pm-12:30am. Sunday: 12:30pm-4pm.
For more information on dining in Torino and Italy download my app, EAT ITALY. EAT ITALY is a free app, and contains guides to Venice, Milan, Rome, Florence, Torino and Umbria (and an ever expanding list of regions and cities) available as in-app purchases for both iPhone and iPad