Whilst we were in Turin, our friend took us to her brother’s restaurant. It’s not been open long, however it didn’t seem like they were struggling to attract the crowds as we turned up to a full-to-the-brim establishment. Amusing ourselves on the table-football in the foyer until a table became available, I admired the witty and oh-so-trendy decor. The Big Mama Club is cool (not only for having a Facebook page of course); There’s no denying that. I just hoped that they wouldn’t compromise on the quality of the food in order to attract the trendies in town.
I didn’t need to concern myself.
We were shown to our table in the cavern-housed dining area, which is decorated to replicate the interior of an underground/metro train (fairly fitting given that we were sat in a basement in the city)
Surrendering to our hosts, who I’d encouraged to order something typically regional, we sat back, smiling contentedly, and listened on as they ordered on our behalf.
For starters they recommended the Pietmontese classic, Tomino Pietmontese. This is a cheese (about the size of a standard Camembert, but not similar in taste or consistency). It is produced in local towns surrounding Turin and is often produced using a mixture of goats’ and cows’ milk. It is a savoury and salty tasting cheese. In this dish the cheese is wrapped in speck and cooked in the oven so that it melts down to a delectable warm, oozing mass housed within walls of crispy ham. Ours was served with salad and balsamic dressing. For a cheese and meat addict like me this idea wins on every conceivable level.
We also shared a Tortino di Verdure. This is a baked omelette which was filled with grated courgette (or zucchini). It has more of a doughy, than eggy texture but is light and fluffy and very moreish. It was served with a white truffle and cream of saffron sauce .
We then moved on to the primi di giorno, which was a linguini with a delicious ragu. In the photo it looks incredibly dark, rich and filling, but it was surprisingly light.
For mains we all were rather traditional and had meat with vegetables and potatoes (how terribly English I hear you cry). It took me a while to turn down the offer of a kangaroo steak as I was strongly tempted I must say, but I opted in the end for a good ol’ fillet of beef. Cooked to order, with accompanying crispy/fluffy potatoes, this was the perfect main all washed down with a very delicious bottle of Nebbiolo d’Alba (2008).
After a short pause to start digesting, I discovered my new favourite thing – caffé d’orzo (seriously, why can’t we get this in the UK?!). This is a, credible, alternative to espresso in Italy. It is a caffeine-free roasted grain beverage made from ground barley. Served like an espresso it’s typically made and drank in restaurants and cafes as the orzo for coffee-machines is far superior to the instant alternative you find in the shops. I think it’s simply delicious. It’s a healthy, naturally de-caff drink, which tastes like a mix between coffee and Horlicks. Dreamy…
The verdict on Big Mama’s is that it’s well worth a visit. If you’re passing through (or staying in) Turin then call them up for a reservation. It may be tough getting a table, but when you taste the food and experience the friendly, attentive service you’ll soon understand why.