|Inventive dishes and top-quality ingredients in an enoteca decor.|
Finding the kind of Italian food in Paris that home-grown Italians would be proud of is no easy task. And I was especially eager to find some after a week of eating the real thing in a number of fine places in Venice*. Pizzerias are the most popular type of restaurants in France, of course, and there’s one on almost every street corner. You won’t get pizza at I Golosi, but I’m sure that Italians would recognize and admire the food.
For the non-initiated, golosi are people who love their food – sometimes to excess. And I can see why people like I Golosi; I could even see myself liking it to excess. On my two recent trips there I was blown away by the sheer quality of the food and its originality. And also by the lovely staff, most of whom are Italian.
I Golosi won an award for best wine list in 2006, and also sells high-quality groceries and prepared food to take away. The tiny bottles of quarter-century-old balsamic vinegar, thick and black as engine oil, for example, are priced in inverse proportion to the size of the bottles. The restaurant’s look and feel are reminiscent of a smart Italian enoteca with an eye for designer decor.
My last visit began with a warm salad of cuttlefish and beans with salsa verde. The beans were the French equivalent of cannellini beans, i.e., cocos de Paimpol, from a lovely little town on the Breton coast. The cuttlefish was tender, as were the beans, and the salsa verde had us slowly sipping to identify the ingredients (my companion with the brilliant taste buds noticed the hint of mint), before we mopped up the remainder with bread, to the evident pleasure of our Romanian waitress. The other starter was a generous plate of properly thin Parma ham, aged for 24 months and served at room temperature so that it developed all its flavors. It had that paradoxical combination of an almost crunchy yet smooth texture. Addictive.
Next came two pasta dishes: linguine sautéed with lobster, and pappardelle with a veal and white truffle sauce. The expensive ingredients were well worth the price. My profoundly rewarding veal and truffle sauce was layered with complexity, while the light, unobtrusive sauce on the linguine left the delicacy of the generous chunks of lobster meat perfectly intact.
Desserts were pesche gratinate agli amaretti (baked peaches with a topping of crushed amaretti biscuits) and pannacotta, the Italian equivalent of crème caramel. What struck me here was the reduced amount of sugar. The amaretti cut the acidity of the lightly cooked peach, letting the almond taste came through in a perfect major chord with the fruit. The pannacotta was stunning too, with a thick caramel sauce verging on bitterness, and the cream itself given added depth with hints of vanilla. The ingredients were of top quality and the cooking perfect.
We drank the cheaper of the two white wines on offer, a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (Le Vaglie) from the Marches – made on the lees like a good French muscadet. It formed a lovely, crisp complement to every part of the meal and was an excellent value at €26.
I Golosi: 6, rue de la Grange Batelière, 75009 Paris. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for lunch only. Closed Sunday. Around €50 euros (not including wine). Métro: Richelieu Drouot or Grands Boulevards. Nearest Vélib: 20 rue de la Grange Batelière. www.igolosi.com
*If you’re passing through Venice, you could try any of the following restaurants, all of them strong on fish, for a truly scrumptious experience. Prices around €60 a head (this is Venice) without wine:
Hostaria da Franz (in the Castello neighborhood near the entrance to the Biennale): Fondamenta San Guiseppe 754. Tel.: 041 5220861. Maurizio, the maître d’, functions perfectly in five languages.
A la Vecia Cavana (near the Jesuit church at Fondamente Nuove): Rio Terà Santi Apostoli 4624. Tel.: 041 5287106.
Riviera (on the Zattere, opposite the Hilton Molino Stucky): Dorsoduro 1473.
© 2007 Paris Update
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