7 of the finest chocolate experiences in Turin

Known for its native Lavazza coffee and Barolo wines, located in the Piedmont region of northwest, in the shadow of the Alps, sits Turin. Often overlooked in favour of nearby Milan, the less crowded Turin has long been renowned by discerning chocolate lovers for its delectable cocoa creations.

First granted licence to produce chocolate in 1678, Turin’s innovative confectioners can more than hold their own against the chocolate powerhouses of the French Belgian and Swiss. Whether it is their famous Giandiotto (hazelnut infused chocolate) or the luxurious Bicerin (Espresso, chocolate syrup and cream) there’s plenty to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth, with Turin’s cocoa output frequently garnering international acclaim.

1. Stratta – Piazza San Carlo, 191 Torino

Thanks to the House of Savoy, Turin’s elegant streets and piazzas are reminiscent of Paris or Vienna, with many of the city’s arcades and shop façades sheltered beneath ornate colonnades. A stone’s throw from the fantastic Egyptian Museum and the impressive Carignano Theatre, situated in Piazza San Carlo (known as the ‘drawing room of Turin’) stands Stratta, who have been manufacturing a vast array of fine chocolates in the heart of Turin since 1836.

You’ll be hard pressed to choose between their tempting confections, piled in tantalising arrangements but feel free to ask the friendly staff for an informed recommendation or seasonal specialty. I would plump for their ‘Tronchetti Walnut’, which is phenomenal along with their excellent truffles and, of course, they offer a fine example of Giandujotti hazelnut infused chocolates.

Stratta is also a great spot to take coffee or sit down to lunch, either inside, people watching in the square itself or beneath the colonnade, where you can enjoy views of this fine piazza and the adjacent Baroque churches of San Carlo and Santa Christina.

2. Al Bicerin – Piazza Della Consolata, 5, 10122 Turin

Nestling beneath the impressive Santuario Della Consolata, sits the historic Café Al Bicerin. An establishment that was frequented by Nietschze, Puccini, The Count of Cavour and Alexandre Dumas, this timeless café lays claim to the original and often-imitated regional chocolate speciality of the same name.

Bicerin (literally meaning ‘little glass’) is a terrifically indulgent concoction, comprising layered coffee, chocolate and cream. Not intended to be mixed; this hot, sumptuous treat can in fact be served cold for those stifling Summer days. The house recipe is a closely guarded family secret with many cafes around the city serving their own unique Bicerin combinations, some with flavoured coffee or hazelnut chocolate cream offering a dazzling variety of variations to experience.

Not to be outdone by other confectioners, Café Al Bicerin also offers some fantastic pastries and a personal favourite – the Biscotti Della Duchessa (brittle chocolate cookies).

3. Odilla Chocolat – Via Fratelli Carle 40

Odilla are all about the purest raw ingredients for their fantastic chocolate. The proudly source some of the finest cocoa in the world (Criollo Sur del Lago) from small producers in Venezuela and the best hazelnuts (Round Dear Trilobate) which are still found and farmed in abundance from the nearby Langhe area.

Owner and Master Chocolatier, Gabriel Maiolani innovates upon his family’s traditional techniques, creating abundant fillings and flavour combinations for his chocolates. You can choose between 112 fillings; from the regular: delicious praline, to the less often encountered: refreshing pink grapefruit or, for something completely different, try the candied orange peel ‘French’ dipped in dark chocolate.

If you’re pining for the local Giandujotto style, treat yourself to the Godó: ‘A thin shell of Venezuelan Sur del Lago chocolate enclosing a soft heart of hazelnut cream’

4. Guido Gobino – Via Lagrange, 1, 10123 Torino (bottega) and Via Cagliari, 15, 10153 Torino (factory)

Continuous experimentation and creativity, matched with quality ingredients are the hallmarks of Guido Gobino. Surrounded by Palazzos and easily located in the city centre between Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Carlo Alberto, the Bottega (studio) of Guido Gobino does a brisk trade in high quality, inventive confections.

The passion and attention to detail is infectious and you will not leave without having attempted some truly inspired combinations. Try the ‘Ganaches Da Meditazione’ with varied flavours from ‘Jasmine Tea’ to ‘Eucalyptus’. For dark chocolate lovers, plump for the ‘Amarassimo’ containing delicate ‘Arriba’ cocoa fragments.

Guido Gobino is also arguably the best place to try the local traditional hazelnut infused Giandujotto with several intense varieties for you to devour. Originally hazelnut paste was added to make chocolate go further in times of rationing, due to the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. It has proved popular ever since with nearby Alba home to Ferrero’s world conquering spreadable version, ‘Nutella’.

If sampling the chocolates in the studio doesn’t satisfy your chocolate fetish, you can visit Guido Gobino’s production headquarters and witness how they produce their chocolate, from scratch, in their artisan laboratory.

Here you can learn the processes and commitment it takes to produce such fine chocolates.

5. Peyrano – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 76, Turin

Shaded beneath the colonnades of the main Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II, Peyrano embodies the traditional Turin style shop façade. Huge windows reveal tempting displays of skilfully piled chocolate delights, all drawing the eye and daring the palette.

Regularly supplying the Italian Royals, Peyrano is another producer whose roots reach deep into the region. Surviving Allied bombings in the Second World War, the Peyrano family would tenaciously cycle from the countryside, displaced by the conflict, to keep the store going.

Seeking a new high-end market, in post-war boom Italy, Bruno Peyrano first had the idea to advertise in Italian Vogue, cementing the idea of high quality chocolate being synonymous with haute couture. To this day their chocolates are still handed out to models and customers in exclusive clothing stores throughout Italy.

The family tradition and high quality trend continues, with the Peyrano family reacquiring the company in 2011 (previously having sold up in 2002). They also acquired the characterful chocolatier Pfatisch (which still retains an excellent store under its original name on Via Sacchi, 42) and today are a major influencer in the Turin chocolate scene, specialising in simple elegant bars of high quality chocolate and of course, a phenomenal Giandujotto.

6. Gerla – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 88, Turin

A mere stones throw from Peyrano stands Gerla, an equally impressive shop façade that houses high quality chocolate and pastries along with a fun, irresistible chocolate fountain and accompanying selection of dipping cookies. The store retains its old fashioned charm with wood and blue marble dominant and over 75 types of chocolates and many more pastries, all jockeying for the eye and ready to be taken home.

Their classic ‘mignon’ chocolates are all superb but heavy in-house competition comes from their unrivalled chocolate pastries. Perhaps the best in the city, try pairing them with their fantastic coffees, some specialties of which are dedicated to famous Italian figures of the past.

Acquired from the Gerla family as recently as 2012 by innovator Roberto Munnia, Gerla looks set to diversify. Combining the traditions that keep the sweet craving clientele happy, there is now an onsite restaurant / lounge bar (L’Orangerie) available for a lunch or for exclusive private hire. They must know what they are doing, having recently been appointed to run cafés at both the nearby Galleria d’Arte Moderna (GAM) and the Palazzo Reale.

7. Guido Castagna – Via Torino, 54, Giaveno (lab)

With three gold and one silver medal at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards, Guido Castagna is a chocolatier worthy of your attention. Strictly speaking located just outside Turin, 30 minutes away, in the foothills of the Alps at Giaveno, it’s worth the trip.

Uncompromising in the selection everything from ingredients to native packaging, Guido Castagna follow a simple yet strictly unhurried protocol, keeping processes simple, pure and effective with truly inspiring results.

Whether you try the ‘Cremini’ (chocolate layered with ‘Giandujotti’ paste), the traditional ‘Giandujotti’, or my favourite: the ‘Tartufi Croccante’ (truffles with hazelnuts cooked in caramel), you will leave content that you have tasted the best chocolate Turin has to offer.

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