In the heart of Federal Hill in Providence, the tradition of Torrone continues, with new flavors and diversity, for any palate and style. Let Tony guide you through the journey.


{Antonio Di Cicco aka Tony Il Direttore}


Buongiorno amici:

The Christmas season is near, and many Italian foods appear on tables worldwide, symbolizing religion through food flavors. The Christmas food collection never ends from the Bread de Toni, aka Panettone, Pandoro, Pangiallo, and Pandoro, and the long list of cookies and biscuits craftily made by skilled mothers and grandmothers. Discovering regional foods during holidays can become an incredible journey as exciting as those whose experiences include climbing the Kilimanjaro or Everest. It never ends, and every year the growing list expands.

Today, however, I would like to share facts about torrone, another symbol of the Christmas period, and post epiphany. Suppose you live in Rhode Island, USA. In that case, you are in luck, mainly because the tiny state has some excellent food stores and quality emporiums, filled with artisanal products, locally made or imported. One, in particular, is Tony’s Colonial, located on Federal Hill in Providence. The “Hill,” as romantically identified, remains one of the essential Italian immigration colonies in North America. During the holiday season, the ringmaster Antonio Di Cicco will always be present and behind the counter to guide you through your uncertainty in purchasing with suggestions and historical anecdotes. At Tony’s, you will find the homemade torrone and the top imported brands, in addition to family valued business.

So let’s look into this beautiful addition to our holiday table and which to select.

Torrone is a traditional product of the city of Cremona in the Lombardy region. Since the sixteenth century, it has been a much-appreciated food gift, especially among the elders who gratify grandchildren during Christmas. A legend indicates the link of this bar-shaped nougat with the Cremonese culinary tradition and its famous tower, the Torrazzo. It appears that a young pastry chef working within the local courts created the nougat in the shape of the famed tower, a symbol of the city center.

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From the shops of the sixteenth-century apothecaries, local traditional nougat producers continued creating artisanal shops until developing real factories and industrial production as we see today throughout the territory. Today, in Cremona, the distinction between commercial production and traditional hand-made is visible in the windows of the many shops if you walk through the romantic city street. In addition, many historical brands are enjoying a resurgence in notoriety and sales, offering a diversity of styles and tastes. Lately, prominent chefs are entering the torrone-making business with unusual versions and identifiable flavors reflecting their gastronomic styles. In the Northern Mediterranean, Spain (Turron), France, and other smaller nations produce Torrone, but the original and most prices are Cremonese or from Benevento in Campania. The trend is not slowing down based on the 2020 sales.

We can divide the traditional Cremona Torrone (nougat) into two subtypes: the classic and the soft. The difference relies on the greater or lesser amount of egg white in the mixture. Bot types are wrapped in hosts or covered with dark semisweet chocolate, the most recent addition, and more modernized in taste. The mixture also includes almonds or hazelnuts, but rarely together. In ancient times, nougats of different types and aromas still available today can be found as products of a still-living tradition, together with the classic. The manufacturing of nougat has kept its ingredients and methods almost unchanged over time.


The term “nougat” seems to derive from the Latin torreo, a verb that means “toast,” concerning the toasting of hazelnuts and almonds. The ingredients included in the nougat have symbolic values: sweetness (honey), the strength of life (almonds), rebirth (egg white), and offered during the winter solstice.

There are several theories about its origin.

1) Some sources believe that it may derive from the preparation of honey, egg white, and almonds present in ancient Rome, as shown by some writings of the historian Tito Livio.

2) A subsequent hypothesis would link the recipe to the Arabs who would have spread it in Southern Italy and the Mediterranean as a corroborating food, as indicated by the “Turun” reported in the 11th-century treatise De medicines et cibis semplicibus.

3) Finally, a Cremonese legend would identify the first traditional nougat in the special almond and honey cake in the shape of a tower prepared by the court cooks for the wedding between Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza. In Italian cooking text, the word torrone appeared in Messisbuco in 1500.

4) Initially prepared by the apothecaries, it later became the work of pastry chefs and trained bakers. The bakers prepared the bar at the end of the bread-making.

Today the different regional variations of the recipe can be based on the more or less soft dough enriched with dried fruit, figs, herbs, spices, citrus peel, or chocolate.

Torrone Recipe by Great Italian Chefs

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