If there’s one thing the French and Italians have in common, it’s their passion for food. Fresh ingredients, leisurely lunches, indulging in fine wine? There’s no denying that la dolce vita appeals very strongly to Parisian sensibilities. Not only are the French the biggest consumers of pasta in Europe (besides Italy), Italian eateries, bars, and festivals have taken the city by storm in recent years. With several Italian food spots in the city, it’s difficult to navigate the best. Avoid the tourist-traps! Here’s a guide to the best hidden gem Italian dining spots in Paris:
Come a Casa
Opened by Tuscan-Roman duo Flava Frederici and Gianluca Tamorri, this neighborhood restaurant is all about simplicity. The seasonal menu is small, but perfectly curated. A handful of pasta dishes sit alongside a single meat and fish option. For primi there are plates of top-quality Italian charcuterie and cheese. Like the menu, the interiors are paired-back, and the owners (who often pause for convivial chat with the customers), are friendly and relaxed. Highlights include aubergine parmigiana (bold as you like, laced with depth and umami) and homemade tiramisu— a marshmallow-like confection offset beautifully by plenty of coffee and booze. Come a Casa –“just like home”– feels like a visit to nonna’s (if nonna had mastered industrial-chic interior design).
Nanina is essentially a fromagerie specialising in Italian cheese. The goal? To produce mozzarella in the centre of Paris that tastes like it’s been made in Naples. Hey, if it’s good enough for the neighboring and highly acclaimed Septime restaurant, it’s good enough for me! Bag yourself a ball of mozz – which, as I was sternly informed by owner Julien Carotenuto, should never be refrigerated – and order some lunch. There’s crowd-pleasing panini filled with pistachio-infused mortadella, fresh caprese salad, and mini homemade pizzas bianca. Whether you dine in (and peek at the staff making the cheese!) or picnic in the nearby park, you’re guaranteed a fine lunch.
Unassuming, unpretentious, and decidedly no-frills, Rivoluzione transports me to a sweltering Neapolitan backstreet. There are no gratuitous flourishes or hard-to-pronounce ingredients, just a couple of basics done (really) well. I thought it was impossible to make a truly great sugo rosso outside of your own kitchen, but I stand corrected. Unctuous, expertly balanced, and well-seasoned, it clings magically to the perfectly al dente penne. Equally pleasing is the linguine alla carbonara— sans cream and lightly punctuated by salty guanciale. Prices are reasonable: most pizzas, plats, and pasta dishes hover around the 10 euro mark.
You’d be forgiven for passing La Madonnina – located in the ever-charming district of Canal Saint-Martin – without giving it a second glance. Its low-key décor and small seating area are almost engulfed by neighboring eateries. That is, of course, if it weren’t for the gorgeous smell of freshly baked dough beckoning you closer. Here, Neopolitan pizzas are the order of the day. Evenly baked in a stone oven, each pie is finished with an assortment of seasonal and locally sourced toppings. A favourite lunch and dinner spot for locals, there are few tourists in sight— just Frenchies who take pizza very seriously.
When I arrived at Il Tempilenti, the temperature in Paris had reached dizzying heights and, as such, I reasoned that it was far too hot to eat pasta. But with the prospect of lemon and ricotta stuffed ravioli dangled in front of me, my resolve crumbled. Seven minutes in, using a piece of bread for la scarpetta (the crafty Italian act of mopping up each morsel of sauce) I was glad it had. Ordinarily a side-show, the ricotta stood its ground; its creaminess and light tang offset (not overshadowed) by a measured grating of lemon zest. The handmade pasta was delicate and perfectly al dente – no easy feat when it comes to the fresh stuff – and accompanied with Daterrino tomatoes and a healthy glug of olive oil. Simplicity works wonders. Run by two super-cool women, this is a restaurant where, as its name suggests, you’ll want to take your time.
Frittza is Paris’ first ever pizza fritte restaurant. The trendier, lesser-known sister of Neapolitan pizza, pizza fritte are folded, deep fried pizza pockets traditionally filled with ricotta and provola. Sounds super heavy? Think again. Good pizza fritte should be lightly golden, crisp, and piping hot. The best are found at street vendors in Naples, but if you don’t fancy a flight abroad, Frittza is an excellent alternative. The options here are more experimental than any I’ve tried in Italy (think smoked salmon, truffle, chicken) but the dishes here are tasty, the ingredients are well-sourced, and the service is friendly. If you’re craving Italian food but looking for something beyond the usual choices, Frittza is your answer.
Come a Casa – 74-76 bd de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris, France
Nanina – 24 rue Basfroi, 75011 Paris, France
Rivoluzione – 24 rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris, France
La Madonnina – 10 rue Marie et Louise, 75010 Paris, France
Il Tempilenti – 13 rue Gerbier, 75011 Paris, France
Frittza – 135 rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, France
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One comment on “The Best Hidden Italian Dining Spots in Paris”
Love it — the only hidden Italian restaurants in all of Paris happen to be in just three arrondissements: the hip 11th, 10th and 20th.