Hidden beneath the arcades of Piazza Castello sits one of Torino’s oldest cafes, Caffe Mulassano. Since its founding over 150 years ago, this cafe has served as the favored gathering place of the city’s ruling family, the Royal House of Savoy, and its business, cultural and social elite.

Come to this perfectly preserved, art nouveau jewel box of a café today and step inside the elegance of another era. Mirrored walls and a carved mahogany ceiling give the room its fin-de-siecle grandeur. With just four tables, most of the action happens at the ornate marble bar, where white-jacketed waiters prepare some of Italy’s best coffee and aperitivi.

This is the place where tramezzini (Italy’s version of triangular finger sandwiches) were invented in 1925.  Choose from over forty kinds, if you can, arranged like precious commodities inside an antique glass display case. I finally settled on four:  radicchio and truffled goat cheese; truffled mascarpone; porcini mushrooms and artichokes; and robiola cheese with celery and walnuts. My companion selected another four: tuna, sardines and egg; shrimp; lobster salad; and asparagus and egg.  The bread, still made the “artigianale” way using the café’s original recipe, was soft and light, the perfect vehicle for the delicacies inside.

During aperitivi hour, the café attracts Torino’s fashionable crowd for early evening cocktails and complementary canapes. Torino is Italy’s capital of the aperitivo, with famous brands such as Martini Rosso, Cinzano and Gancia. At Mulassano, you must try the bar’s own sweet vermouth, “Liquore delle Alpi”, made in its own distillery from a recipe dating back from 1879.  It’s served on the rocks, as is the tradition in this city.

Ruggero Cristiano is the manager here and sits behind the antique gold register near the entrance. He’s worked at many of Torino’s famous bars and pasticcerie (pastry shops), and is a trained pastry chef himself. He even makes some of the café’s pastry - always “of the season” – which today includes marron glaces (candied chestnuts), tortine di pera cioccolata (small pear and chocolate tart), and cannoli filled with zabaglione.

When asked to name his favorite restaurant, Ruggero prefers places in the grand tradition of Mulassano. He recommends Ristorante La Grotta, one of the classic restaurants in Asti, founded in the 1950s by celebrity chef of the day Giovanni Fasciola and recently restored. La Grotta is famous for its bollito misto alla Piemontese, a regional specialty featuring seven kinds of meat, seven vegetables, and seven condiments, that is served by the chef from a cart that he wheels out directly to your table.


Piedmont - Italy

Photo Credit: Lizzie Sayner


Q & A


Italian / Coffee / Aperitif

Piazza Castello, 15

10123 Torino, Italy

T: +39/(0)11.547.990




Wed - Sun: opens 5pm

Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm


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