Typical Dishes of the Piemonte Region

Written by on October 6, 2020 in Gastronomy

hazelnuts and traffle in the Piemonte are of Italy

If you are thinking of what regional dishes to eat in the Piemonte region you must think meat as it is a consistent part of the local gastronomy.

On the other hand, there are also some Piemontese food products that are famous throughout Italy and internationally, such as Tartufo (Truffle) and Nocciole (Hazelnuts).

One of the best typical dish of Piemonte region: Vittelo Tonnato - slices of beef in tuna mayonnaise sauce


Vitello Tonnato is one of Piemonte’s most famous dishes and is my son’s absolute favourite starter. It consists of very thinly sliced veal eaten cold with a delicious mayonnaise-based tuna sauce. This dish is true to the region’s tradition of slow cooking, requiring a whole day’s braising or simmering of the veal joint. The sauce was originally made using fresh white tuna. In most restaurants today they use canned tuna to reduce the cost and the preparation time. They simmer the tuna in white wine, cider vinegar, white onion and garlic. Then purée it with a mix of olive and vegetable oil, as well as egg yolks, to form a thick mayonnaise.

Another famous antipasto from the Region is Caponet, which is cabbage stuffed with meat and baked in the oven. The filling is made of sautéed minced pork with onion mixed with boiled cabbage that is chopped into little pieces.

Typical local cold cuts (salamis) are mocetta and also trippa di Montcalieri.

Being a vegetarian, my favourite antipasti are the little pieces of fresh cheese called tomini which are normally served with either bagnet verd or bagnet ross sauces. The main ingredient of bagnet verd is parsley mixed with garlic and anchovies. Bagnet ross is based on tomato and pepperoncino.

pasta with butter and truffle shavings

Primi piatti / First courses

If you are passionate about pasta do not miss out on tajarin. This is a thin egg noodle pasta seasoned with butter and enhanced by the aroma and taste of white truffle from Alba. Or try agnolotti, an egg pasta filled with meat or vegetables. Different to stuffed pasta from other areas of Italy, agnolotti are characterized by the use of roast meat for the filling. They are delicious.

Rice cultivation in the Piemonte region dates back to XV Century. Paddy fields are principally found in the provinces of Vercelli, Novara, Biella and some parts of Alessandria. The two most popular regional rice dishes are risotto al Barolo and panissa.

Risotto al Barolo is a very simple dish. What makes it special and flavoursome is the high quality red wine that the rice is cooked in.

Panissa Di Vercellese uses Arborio, Baldo, Sant’andrea or Maratelli rice plus beans grown in Saluggia or Villata. Onion, Barbera red wine, lard, salame d’la duja and salt are added.

Castelmagno is a town in the province of Cuneo. It gives its name to a semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk. This cheese is used to create various typical Piemontese dishes. For example Gnocchi al Castelmagno. Castelmagno cheese can also be enjoyed on its own and is delicious with honey.

Typical main dishes from Piemonte region

Secondi piatti / Second courses

For a typical main course in this meat dominated part of the world you would have to consider a fritto misto alla Piemontese. This dish was traditionally prepared on the farm following an animal slaughter. It typically has 18 different elements. A true fritto misto will include kidneys, brains, liver and testicles but also apple and other sweet things. Everything is covered in bread crumbs and fried in oil. The boys love it but I personally would stick with a fritto misto di pesce. It uses classic ingredients from the sea instead, such as shrimps and calamari!!

A very tasty Piemontese specialty that is eaten mainly in the winter months is Bagna Càuda. Bagna Cauda is a thick sauce based on garlic, extra virgin olive oil and anchovies. You dip raw or cooked vegetables of the season into it. This is also commonly eaten as an antipasto.

A gran bollito misto is based on seven different cuts of boiled meat and is eaten especially in the Po Valley area. The meat, served hot or cold, is generally accompanied by boiled vegetables. These are usually carrots, onions, spinach with butter, sautéed mushrooms and celery. Gran Bollito is served with various sauces including the ‘bagnet verd’ and ‘bagnet ross’, as well as mustards and potato. Traditionally on finishing the dish you are served with a cup of boiling broth. Gran bollito is definitely a winter dish and should be accompanied by a local red wine such as Barolo, Barbera or Grignolino.

Bonét - hazelnut dessert from Piemonte

Dolci / Sweets

There are numerous delicious desserts available for those of us with a sweet tooth. I recommend you to try a very ancient traditional dessert of the region called Bonét. Bonet is made of eggs, sugar, milk, cacao, liqueur (usually rum) and amaretto biscuits. It is prepared with the same technique that is used for creme caramel and has several variations such as using coffee or cognac instead of rum.

My all-time favourite local sweets are the torte di nocciola. These hazelnut cakes have peasant origins and were traditionally prepared for Christmas. They are made using the hazelnuts leftover from the summer harvest mixed with rum and flour.

Mixture of typical Biscuits from Piemonte, Italy

Biscotti / biscuits (and chocolates)

Every area has their own typical biscuits. Baci di dama di Tortona. Amaretti di Mombaruzzo. Bicciolani di Vercella. Krumiri di Casale Monferrato. Tapit di Oleggio.

A chocolate delicacy that you need to taste and which is also nice as a present to take home is the gianduiotto or giandujotto.  It is an inverted boat-shaped chocolate made with gianduia, a chocolate and hazelnut paste. It is usually wrapped in gold or silver paper.

Buon Apetito!!

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