I had noticed that the mighty McDonalds had a relatively subdued to presence in Italian towns and cities. It’s not really surprising in a country that prides itself on high quality food and drink that is homegrown. I was a little surprised that my first gastronomic experience in Turin was a fast food restaurant; but of course it wasn’t your usual fast food restaurant, it had that Italian TWIST! – La Granda in Mezzo al Pane part of the Eataly movement of slow food and 0Km.
First impressions- it was buzzing at 12.30 on a Wednesday lunch time it had more of wine/bar cafe feel about it rather than fast food joint. So the concept it to provide a McDonalds style experience – each customer order’s and pays at the counter. But the major difference between MacDonalds is that your fresh Piedmontese burger will ONLY hit the grill once you have placed your order. Unlike MacDonalds where your burger is picked from hot plate and plonked in a bag. So just be patient you might have to wait a little longer but everything is cooked from fresh and to order.
As with all great italian food it starts with the produce and they have gone to great lengths to ensure that each ingredient is of the highest quality and locally produced.
- The Meat – Local piemontese Beef http://www.associazionelagranda.it/
- The Bread – Oven baked bread with extra virgin olive oil without butter for a natural flavour
- Tomato Ketchup – made from organic Italian tomatoes.
- The lettuce – Fresh Italian iceberg lettuce.
So what does an Italian version of McDonalds have on their menu?
Well to start we had the famous “La Cruda De la Granda” “la Granda” which refers to the Piemontese cattle breed named “La Granda” which is where the beef comes from. It’s small serving of of raw Piemontese beef served with sprig of baby spinach a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh crusty bread.
It looks similar to the French Steak Tarte – without the onions and marinade. The thing that struck me most was the color and freshnesses of the meat; bright pinky red. It’s such a simple dish that was delicious and perfect starter. Washed down with their their local beer served in an elegantly tall beer glass – so even in a burger restaurant you can still maintain that elegant Italian stylish look.
So the Secondo – Il Cis Panciotto
100% Piemontese Beef Burger, smoked natural pancetta by Massimo Pezzani, inside a bun made with extra virgin olive oil and flour from Mulino Marino, with fresh iceberg lettuce and an organic sauce of your choice. The burger is like an explosion of freshness in your mouth – you can taste each ingredient individually – the perfect piemontese meat the fresh bread – not the plastic variety of MacDonalds that bares little resemblance to bread. SIMPLICITY is the secret I’m told; start with the right ingredients and you can’t go wrong!
You know what I liked the best; I had no guilty feeling after I’d eaten the burger, which I usually get after eating a McDonald’s Big MAC because I know it’s bad for me. On the contrary I felt like I had eaten a wholesome lunch! Although I had to decline on the chips – just tasting one or two they were freshly cooked and not too salty or greasy.
I did leave room for the delicious deserts though, which looked just to too good to refuse. Served in small shot glass – a a range of other traditional italian deserts, so for the price of an ice cream you can have a fresh little pot of Italian tiramisu.
Now after all this talk of fresh, organic ingredients I am sure you’re wondering what the cost of this Italian style fast food is.Well you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know 9-10 Euros will buy you a burger, chips and beer. Not bad considering a Big Mac Meal costs – 7 Euros. But here you get organic fresh ingredients, made to order and an alcoholic drink – I think you’ll agree it’s worth paying a couple of extra euros for.
If you want to take the family – they also have a small play area in the basement situated right next to tables so you can sit at your table enjoy your burger while keeping an eye on the kids! The basement has lovely brick arches on show a reminder that your in Italy!! Their is also a great selection of wines – which of course is probably the perfect accompaniment to the delicious piemontese burger!!! So give MacDonalds and miss and try the Italian Version!
You can locate LA GRANDA IN MEZZO AL PANE on Piazza Solferino 16/a in centro a TORINO about 10 minute walk from the tram station at Porta Nuova and 5 minute walk from Piazza Castello Piazza San Carlo.