For a full blast of Italian hospitality, I suggest you book a table at the little restaurant/wine bar Au Nouveau Nez in the 11th arrondissement. On second thought, perhaps not if you are in a hurry, since the charming Valerio Corvino, in that inimitable time-oblivious Italian way, likes to take his time explaining every dish (and wine) in detail to his customers. Luckily, the menu is short. The selection of wines, however, covers an entire wall of the restaurant (go up and browse if you want to choose for yourself or ask Corvino for advice; his recommendations to us were unerring).
The food here is fairly simple but made with wonderful ingredients that lift it above the norm. I started with a dish of smoked Provola, an Italian cheese made with buffalo milk that is rarely seen in Paris. Literally “aged mozzarella,” it is one of those soft cheeses with a wax rind tied up in rope that might be seen hanging from the ceiling of an Italian deli. This fantastic cheese was creatively paired with a delicious baba ghanoush-like eggplant dip with touches of mint, lemon, garlic and chili.
The homemade beef tartare, seasoned with shallots, mustard and capers, was served with sautéed green asparagus and dressed up with asparagus cream and hazelnuts, with just a hint of chili.
The “perfect” soft-boiled egg was drowned in a potato and pea soup and topped with fresh peas and excellent grilled pancetta.
There were only two choices for the main course, one of them vegetarian: zucchini stuffed with ricotta di bufala with datterino tomato sauce and wild garlic pesto. Being carnivores, all three of us chose the meaty dish: fresh house-made cavatelli pasta with pork ragù, topped with a generous shower of grated pecorino. Wikipedia says that cavatelli is shaped like hot-dog buns, but ours looked exactly like larvae. This plain-looking dish was deeply flavorful and satisfying, as Italian pasta should be.
We tried both desserts. My panna cotta, which might be boring elsewhere, was an outstanding example of this classic dessert, rich and creamy, and topped with strawberries and fresh basil.
The torta tenerina, a moist chocolate cake, was another excellent version of a classic, served with crème anglaise (custard).
The wonderful, slightly spicy organic 2019 Friuli Colli Orientali, Cabernet Franc recommended by our friendly sommelier was just the right accompaniment for the pasta with ragu.
Everything was perfetto and, together with the good company of my two interesting friends and the reasonable prices, the meal left me in a wonderful mood. I’d go back in a second.Favorite