Orto, the vegan restaurant in Turin that makes people happy

There’s a vegan restaurant able to lift the mood of anyone who steps in. Located in Turin, in the Italian region of Piemonte, it has a curious name: Orto già Salsamentario, which means “vegetable garden, formerly delicatessen seller”. A long name for a small restaurant in via Monferrato, in one of the quietest areas of Turin by the river Dora.

Vegan shoes in a vegan restaurant in Turin

THE BEST VEGAN RESTAURANT IN TURIN

I first heard about this place while watching a popular Tv show called Four Restaurants, in which four restaurant owners challenged for the title of best restaurateur of their own city or region. I was impressed by the owner of Orto già Salsamentario, a young man who was vegan but didn’t want to convince anyone to eat like him. He respected other people’s food choices and hoped to get the same respect too. When I saw the vegan restaurant menu and the food that was served, I decided I had to eat there. The opportunity came when I went to Turin with my parents, a couple months ago. We parked our car in the small square next to via Monferrato; it was a beautiful, sunny day and we were hungry. So we thought, why not? Let’s go there for lunch. Even though they’re neither vegan nor vegetarian, they loved the food so much that we returned again last week.

THE MENU

The vegan restaurant consists in two rooms with wooden tables, coloured glasses and vintage items on the shells. We sit next to a pair of lovely vegan shoes, which you can see in the photo. I need to find out the address of the shop that sells them. The lunch menu includes green or red pizza made with hemp or spelt flour, rice with scrambled tofu, raw spaghetti with dried tomatoes and olives, whole wheat pasta with vegan pesto, burrito (my favourite so far), millet pie and more. I spot one dessert with a charming name: “felicità”, which means “happiness”, in two versions: black & white, a cheesecake with carrots and chocolate or coconut and lime.

Orto, vegan restaurant in Turin

Needless to say, the food is so good I’d order everything, if I wasn’t so full. I definitely need a cup of coffee. And while I sip it, I feel relaxed and content. It’s the same feeling I experienced after eating at Soul Green in Milan, and I start to think that healthy food does really have a great impact on my mood.

MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY

The owner takes order and brings food, and is so kind as to give me the recipe of the vegan mayo. I will definitely make it. Then we start talking about being vegetarian or vegan, and how to deal with people who aren’t. We agree on one important thing: everyone is free to choose. Freedom is the most precious thing and nobody can tell the others what to do or how to live. It is wrong to terrify people or to preach, he says, so he opened a restaurant. Here he can make people happy, and they can enjoy a good meal even if they’re not vegan. I totally agree with him. We just have the present moment to enjoy, and food can bring a sparkle of happiness in our life.

I leave the restaurant and cross the river, ready to explore the city. I’ll write about Turin someday; meanwhile, if you need information and suggestions, visit the Lonely Planet website.

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