Piedmont has a lot to offer to food lovers. Follow me through this article! You will find out what the typical dishes of Piedmont are and you will immerse yourself in the aroma and flavor of Piedmont cuisine.
Piedmont, a region located in the heart of Northern Italy, is famous not only for its spectacular mountain landscapes but also for its extraordinary culinary tradition.
Its lands are home to a breathtaking variety of landscapes: from vineyard-covered hills to majestic mountains, from lakes to rice fields, from enchanting forests to castles and historic fortresses. Piedmont’s cities and villages, such as Turin, Alba, Vercelli, and Asti, to name but a few, tell centuries-old stories of culture, art, and history.
With a cuisine rich in flavor and historical influences, Piemonte offers a variety of typical dishes that enchant the palate of anyone who has the opportunity to taste them. This region boasts a rich food and wine culture that reflects the diversity of its territories and the influence of culinary traditions from beyond the Alps.
Piedmont specialties embrace a wide range of ingredients, including vegetables, meats, cheeses, lake fish, and more. These dishes are the result of ancient peasant and noble traditions. So get ready to delight in the gastronomic delights of this land, as Piedmont is a must-visit destination for good food lovers.
Piedmont cuisine is a real treat for the senses, and travelers who visit the region often bring its flavors home as souvenirs. Piedmont is also known for the quality of its food products, such as world-famous cheeses, delicious truffles, PGI Piedmont rice and hazelnuts, PGI Vermouth di Torino, and sweet specialties such as Crumiri, gianduiotti, and cri-cri. Piedmont offers a palette of extraordinary flavors. We cannot forget the renowned Piedmont wines, Turin breadsticks, and much more. Moreover, it was here that the Slow Food movement was born, thanks to Carlo Petrini, which promotes the enhancement of local culinary traditions and the preservation of food biodiversity.
In this article, I invite you to discover with me the traditional cuisine of Piedmont and the typical dishes that you should definitely try at least once in your life during a vacation in this region.
From delicious breakfasts to traditional Piedmontese dinners, I will guide you through a list of the most iconic specialties and tell you about their history, flavor, and where you can enjoy them. So get ready to explore the culinary world of this region. 👇
The most famous Piedmont food specialties
This is a typical Piedmont sauce used to season boiled meat, as in the case of mixed boiled meat. There are two main variations: the “green bagnet” and the “red bagnet”. “Green bagnet” is made with parsley, garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and hard-boiled egg, while “red bagnet” is prepared with tomato, chili pepper, garlic, and anchovies. Both sauces add flavor and character to boiled meat. This dish is perfect for those who want to taste true traditional Piedmont cuisine.
“Agnolotti” are typical Piedmontese specialties and can be prepared in two main variations: those from Turin and those from the Langhe, known as “agnolotti del plin”. The main difference is in the shape and preparation. Turin “agnolotti” are small squares of pasta filled, often with meat and vegetables, and are sealed in a triangle shape.
“Agnolotti del plin” are smaller and require painstaking handwork to seal them in a manner similar to a small cappelletto. “Plin” means pinch in Piedmontese, referring to the pinch closure that characterizes them. This delicious dish is included in the list of Traditional Italian Food Products (T.AP.). You’ll find them on every typical Piedmont menu!
3. Bagna Cauda
It is a sauce made from garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. It is served hot and traditionally accompanied by raw vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, fennel, cardoons, and radicchio. Its name in Piedmontese means “hot sauce”, and it has a long history rooted in the region’s peasant traditions. This dish was originally a simple and hearty dish prepared on cold winter days. Its history is linked to the agricultural culture of Piedmont, where farmers, after a hard day’s work in the fields, would gather around a brazier and share this delicacy, dipping seasonal vegetables and crusty bread into the delicious sauce. Bagna Cauda is much more than a typical Piedmont dish, it is a shared experience!
4. Rabbit Tuna and Chicken Tuna
These dishes are named “tuna” because of their texture similar to that of canned tuna. Actually, it is rabbit or chicken meat slowly cooked and preserved in olive oil. The meat is shredded and mixed with flavorings, creating a tuna-like seasoning. It is used as an appetizer or topping for croutons.
5. Bollito Misto
“Bollito misto” is a traditional Piedmontese dish that consists of a variety of boiled meats, such as beef, capon, tongue, cotechino, and other less noble parts. It is served with various sauces, including “bagnet” and accompanied by side dishes such as potatoes and vegetables. The origins of bollito misto can be traced back to medieval times in Italy, although the dish has evolved over time. In addition, bollito misto is traditionally associated with holidays and special occasions, such as Christmas Lunch in many Italian households. This specialty is so beloved that the so-called “Confraternita del Bollito Misto”, an association that promotes this typical Piedmontese dish, preserving its tradition, was founded.
6. Veal Tonnato
Vitello Tonnato is one of the most famous and beloved Italian dishes. It is a cold dish consisting of slices of boiled veal served with a creamy sauce made with tuna (hence the name “tonnato”), mayonnaise, anchovies and capers. It is a delicate dish that is popular in summer, although it was originally served during Christmas celebrations. Often eaten as an appetizer or main dish. These simple, high-quality ingredients come together to create a delicacy with extraordinary flavor!
7. Barolo Risotto
This is a variation of risotto in which Barolo wine, Piedmont’s quintessential red wine, is used as the main ingredient along with rice. This gives this Piedmontese first course a rich and complex flavor. Famous for its dark red color and robust flavor, it is a true delicacy that enchants the palates of anyone who tastes it.
“Tajarin” are Piedmont egg noodles that are very thin. They can be seasoned in different ways. Some variations include “tajarin with truffle“, prepared with fresh truffle or truffle sauce, and “tajarin with Bra sausage“, where this sausage is crumbled and used as a condiment in tomato sauce.
This is a traditional Piedmont dish of offal, such as brains, kidney, and sweetbreads, cooked in a sauce made with wine, mushrooms, onion, and herbs. The name “finanziera” is uncertain, but some theories suggest that it may be derived from the French word “financière“, which refers to dishes prepared with offal that were traditionally considered a luxury ingredient.
10. Battuta al Coltello and Carne Cruda all’Albese
“Battuta al coltello” and “carne cruda all’Albese” are similar dishes, but they have some differences. Both are prepared with knife-cut raw beef. The main difference is that “carne cruda all’Albese” is seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, while “battuta al coltello” may also include ingredients such as capers, chopped hard-boiled eggs and other seasonings.
11. Potato Gnocchi with Castelmagno cheese
This first course of Piedmont gastronomy is prepared with potato gnocchi served with a sauce made with Castelmagno, a famous hard cheese typical of Piedmont. Castelmagno cheese is known for its intense and distinctive flavor that gives the gnocchi a rich flavor. Perfect dish to enjoy if you want to savor a typical Piedmont dinner.
12. Panissa from Vercelli
It is a traditional delicacy of the city of Vercelli. This dish is known for its rich flavors and simplicity, which embody the culinary tradition of Piedmont. Panissa Vercellese is a rice dish very similar to risotto, enriched with beans, lard and salame della duja.
These are pancakes typical of the Langhe area. They are made of eggs, sugar, and flour. They are fried until crispy and often served as a dessert or during Carnival time. This dish is often shared with family or friends, helping to create an atmosphere of conviviality and sharing.
14. Fritto Misto alla Piemontese
“Fritto misto alla piemontese” is a stir-fry dish that includes a variety of ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, mushrooms and fried fish. It features a wide selection of fried foods served together. This Piedmont food specialty combines the flavors of land and sea in a deliciously crispy stir-fry mix.
15. Braised beef with Barolo
Braised beef in Barolo is an iconic dish from Piedmont. It involves beef slowly braised in Barolo wine, accompanied by seasonings such as onion, carrot and celery. The result is a rich and flavorful dish, a symbol of Piedmontese culinary skill.
It is a typical drink of Turin. It is composed of layers of coffee, dark chocolate and whipped cream. This combination creates a delicious harmony of flavors and textures, making it a drink to be enjoyed leisurely. A specialty of Piedmont to savor slowly with friends, in a traditional bar, during your vacation in this region.
17. The Bonet
Bonet is a traditional dessert from Piedmont. It is a spoon dessert made with cocoa, eggs, milk and macaroons, often served with a caramel sauce. It is a delicious delicacy with a creamy texture, characteristic of a pudding. Great for your Piedmontese breakfast or snack.
18. Baci di Dama
Baci di Dama are small treats, composed of two halves joined by a chocolate cream. These two cookies, joined together, appear to kiss, hence the name “Baci di Dama”. Their origin is linked to two cities in Piedmont, Tortona and Alessandria, but the authorship of this dessert is still disputed between the two places. These cookies were originally made as a treat for Piedmontese noble families and soon became a symbol of the region’s culinary sophistication and artistry. They are loved around the world for their unmistakable flavor and unique shape. These cookies are often served with a glass of sweet wine or sparkling wine, and are a perfect accompaniment to a coffee break or dessert after a meal.
19. Paste di Meliga
These are crisp cookies made from cornmeal, butter and sugar. Their light texture and slightly sweet flavor make them a great choice for a traditional Piedmont snack. They are also called “Cornmeal Cookies“; in fact, these cookies were originally made in rural areas of the region, where cornmeal was a common and readily available ingredient.
20. Hazelnut Cake
Hazelnut cake is a classic dessert from Piemonte. It is prepared with roasted hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and butter, creating a rich and nutritious cake. Hazelnut cake has a rich and ancient history that is intertwined with Piedmont culinary tradition. In fact, this cake began as a way to enhance one of the region’s most prized products: hazelnuts. The Langhe area of Piedmont is famous for its high-quality hazelnuts, and Hazelnut Cake is a delicious way to use them in cooking.
The best wines to pair with Piedmontese dishes
Piedmont is a region famous for its high-quality wines that go well with traditional Piedmont cuisine. If you plan to travel to Piedmont, you can’t miss tasting the local wines. Here is a brief description of the most famous ones:
- Barolo: known as the “king of wines, the wine of kings“, is a red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape. It is robust and full-bodied, with complex aromas of fruit, spice and strong tannins. Barolo is not just a wine, but an important part of Italy’s cultural heritage. This wine represents the Piedmont people’s love for the land and their ability to create exceptional wines. A glass of Barolo is a journey through Italian wine history and tradition, and tasting it is an experience that offers a window into the beauty and complexity of Italian food and wine culture. It is perfect with rich dishes such as braised meats.
- Barbaresco: similar to Barolo, but more delicate and less tannic. It has notes of red fruit and flowers. It goes well with lamb or pasta with truffles.
- Barbera: a light, fruity red wine with lively acidity. It is ideal with pasta dishes and pork.
- Gavi: a dry, fresh white wine made from the Cortese grape. It has aromas of white fruit and flowers. It pairs well with fish and cheese dishes.
- Moscato d’Asti: a sweet, sparkling wine with intense aromas of fruit and flowers. Perfect as an aperitif or with desserts.
- Dolcetto: A soft, fruity red wine, ideal for pasta dishes and appetizers.
- Asti Spumante: A sweet and aromatic sparkling wine, excellent for celebrating or accompanying desserts. It is the most widely exported Italian DOCG wine in the world.
- Nebbiolo: Used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, but also exists as a stand-alone wine. It has notes of red fruits and spices, and pairs well with grilled meats.
- Arneis: a fresh white wine with aromas of fruit and flowers. It goes well with fish dishes and appetizers.
- Brachetto d’Acqui: a sweet, sparkling red wine with notes of strawberry. Excellent with chocolate or pastries.
These are some of Piedmont’s most celebrated wines, each with its own unique characteristics that suit different typical Piemonte food specialties. The choice depends on your personal tastes and the food you wish to pair during your stay in this region.
The main events to enjoy Piemonte food
Piedmont is known for a number of culinary events that celebrate its specialties. Here are some of the main festivals:
- Alba White Truffle Fair: This is one of the most famous events dedicated to the white truffle. It takes place in Alba, between the months of October and December, and offers the opportunity to taste and buy this delicious mushroom.
- Vinum: In Barolo in April, this fair dedicated to the wines of Piedmont takes place. It is the perfect opportunity to taste the region’s best.
- Bollito Fair: in Moncalvo during November, this fair celebrates the traditional Piedmont dish of bollito misto, an assortment of boiled meats served with sauces and side dishes.
- Sagra del Porcino di Murisengo: This town hosts a festival dedicated to porcini mushrooms, with tastings, contests and typical Piedmont cuisine. Don’t miss this festival during the first days of September!
- Gorgonzola Festival: In Novara, you can enjoy the famous Gorgonzola cheese and other artisanal specialties.
- Cuneo National Chestnut Fair: this festival celebrates, during the month of October, chestnuts with marron glacé tastings and dishes based on this fruit.
- Cavour Pumpkin Festival: this festival celebrates the pumpkin with traditional Piedmontese dishes based on this vegetable, such as pies and ravioli.
- Cheese: an international fair dedicated to cheeses, held in Bra in September, which takes place every two years. It is a unique opportunity for cheese enthusiasts from around the world to connect, share experiences and discover new dairy delights.
Now that you know all about Piedmont food specialties, visit Piedmont with Italia Delight: a must stop on your journey through Italian food and wine! 😋
Cover photo: andrea-cairone-unsplash
Featured photo: cristiano-caligaris-unsplash