As for the next installment in our Espresso in Torino and Piemonte series, this time we’re breaking out the big guns.
This grand café on the grand Piazza San Carlo is as grand as anything on Venice’s Piazza San Marco. And this square marks the home of a few notable grand cafés in Torino — it’s practically ground zero for the world’s grand café culture. (I.e., no downward-aspiring slackers preening over their bike messenger bags.)
Piazza San Carlo is informally known as “Torino’s living room”; if the Torinese gather and celebrate anywhere, it’s here. While visiting last month, Torino unveiled, with much fanfare, the newly restored Caval’d Brôns, a bronze sculpture of Emanuele Filiberto on horseback that’s such a symbol to the city. (And don’t worry about pronouncing it right — even the Italians joke that they can’t.) And when soccer championships are won by the local teams, Juventus or Torino, this namesake sculptured horseman is dressed in the winner’s soccer kit and decorated with team flags. (And when celebrating Italians are involved, there will always be plenty of flags.)
To think that, in the 1960s, this grand piazza was once an eyesore when used as a public parking lot. (Though this area was disturbed for the 2006 Olympic Games to build an underground parking garage.)
Here’s a short documentary video of the square (spliced with scenes of nearby squares in the beginning) and the statue’s unveiling ceremony that we attended last month, celebrating the conclusion of its 11-month restoration:
The Neuv Caval’d Brôns is one of Gambero Rosso‘s top 18 coffee houses in the country (i.e., awarded 3 tazzine and 3 chicchi). The staff here meet all grand café expectations — decked out in tuxedos. The grand entrance to the interior space of the café resides between a couple of bars. It has an (expectedly) ornate interior with a larger tea room in the back.
Using two side-by-side two-group La Cimbali M32 Dosatrons and Caffè Malabar coffee (‘il buon caffè’ — it’s some of the best stuff around Piemonte), they produce espresso shots with a mottled, lighter brown crema of average thickness with medium brown flecks — making its surface look a little like a pudding. It has a thinner body and a somewhat woody, spice flavor. Served in Neuv Caval’d Brôns logo Schönwald cups. They also produce latte art here. But as at most cafés in town, the layer of foam is thin.
Given its pedigree, the espresso here should be better. This is one café where the Gambero Rosso overhyped the espresso quality. But given the location, it’s still crazy cheap at €0.90 at the bar. (Though have it at a table in the back, and your opinion will change dramatically.)
Read the review of Neuv Caval’d Brôns.
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