Caracoles, mantequilla y perejil sobre polenta y jamón español
Stefano Borra
Country: Italia
City: 10123 Torino
Address: Via Andrea Provana 3/D
Closed: Sunday
Price: 60 €
Tasting menu:: 38 y 48 €

No-one would say that this restaurant located in a hidden narrow street of Turin city centre is run by a cook who has been working in La Pyramide (Paul Bocuse), Lapérouse and with Reine Saummut, in Lourmarin –and that is saying something! The funny thing is that during our visit, although the chef told us about his story after the meal, we already suspected it during the feast, because we immediately perceived classical French influence, rigor, pursuit of perfection and good aesthetic taste regarding presentation. Stefano Borra is highly qualified in terms of both technique and knowledge.
To begin with, we were served a cup of cauliflower soup covered with a drop of whipped cream; admirable. Inspired by Provence, we had some artichokes à la barigoule. In fact, the yet excellent original recipe –artichoke stewed with aromas, ham or pork belly, and mushrooms, occasionally– has been altered by the chef’s intelligent hand. Instead of pork, Stefano uses deboned quail, and the dish is assembled like a pie, with the quail beneath, covered with the artichoke stew, tied by a pasta ribbon and garnished with pieces of artichokes. Culture, knowledge of story, aesthetic sense and hints of elegance gathered in a rustic dish, in which one product is simply replaced by another (quail for pork, in this case). In short: neoclassicism. Next, we tasted some escargots with butter and parsley over polenta whisked with butter: a greedy and delicate dish enhanced with some julienned Spanish cured ham. The sea salad, made of squids, prawns, octopus, red beans and a touch of ginger on the bottom, covered with bigger pieces of squid and octopus (vacuum-cooked with caramelized tomato), was really exquisite. A new and different proposal. Although this technique is not very usual to cook the crustaceans, the results are frankly great: the lukewarm meat preserves its original consistency, almost gelatinous, like if it was raw. On the other hand, this kind of earth and sea ragout is proposed with red beans (Padana style, we might say) instead of white beans (Toscana style). We enjoyed this will to break away from the typical “crustaceans/white beans” combination. The cook is right: white beans are flourier than red beans, which are fleshier and more in tune with the vacuum-cooked meat of the seafood. The gnocchi served over Jerusalem artichokes, sautéed with anchovy butter and accompanied with pieces of grated thistle, are anthological, delicious. Every single ingredient preserves its identity. The chef brings order to a dish that might be a huge mix of products and flavours. And here is another brilliantly executed exquisiteness: cotechino (pork sausage) raviolis over parmentier perfumed with saffron. The show went on with charcoal-grilled veal cheeks over mashed potatoes whisked with butter: apart from the impeccable doneness, the presentation is synonymous with incredible mastery. The meat is cut into perfect circles and lain over the mashed potatoes; it looks like pastry work. And what can we say about the lamb dish: rack coated with bun bread, saddle cooked at low temperature and phyllo dough roll stuffed with deboned knuckle over aubergine caviar. The guest immediately appreciates the high quality of the meat, utterly fresh, directly imported from Ireland in vacuum-packed bags.
In the dining-room, sommelier Luca Cossu, the boss’s partner, is an experienced man who used to work for the best restaurants in town before coming to Vo’s.
In short, on of the best eating houses in Turin.