|The amazing burrata mozzarelloa with San Daniele ham.|
You could be forgiven for walking past this hole-in-the-wall without a second glance, but it would be a mistake. Look inside and you will spy an open kitchen in the back, a few beat-up tables and some shelves of groceries. If it’s mealtime, you’ll see Angelo, a Medici reincarnation down to his fingertips (actually, he’s from Pisa), and his crew preparing an array of Tuscan food for his salivating customers.
Procopio Angelo is located in a lovely bit of Paris, all crooked buildings, without a Haussmannian straight line in sight. The menu morphs daily, but there are always a couple of specials and a dozen starters, plus an assortment of pasta and a couple of meat dishes. This time the special was a raw baby artichoke salad, and the meat dishes were osso bucco and piccata of veal, both served with some blindingly good polenta.
We could, in fact, have stopped after the starters. My companion was in ecstasy over whole oozing mozzarella burrata, served with plenty of San Daniele ham, sliced cigarette-paper thin. I had the pappardelle covered with a veritable blizzard of thinly sliced white truffles in a creamy butter-parmesan sauce that was high in flavor without detracting from the heavenly aroma of the truffles.
Duty to my readers, however, required me to go further, so we tried the piccata and osso bucco. Because the pappardelle and burrata were such hard acts to follow, we were less entranced than we might have been with the meat dishes, but even though our appetites had already been dulled, the quality of the ingredients and the cooking shone through unerringly. The meat dishes are typical of Angelo’s home-cooking approach: there’s no attempt to prettify the food, but the servings are generous, and it’s obvious that lots of love and labor have gone into the (on-the-spot, in the case of my piccata) cooking.
We put away a lip-smacking bottle of Casetellacio from the Fattoria Ucelliera, one of the newer Tuscan blends of traditional Sangiovese and Johnny-come-lately Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, made near Angelo’s native Pisa.
Duty-bound again, we called for his tiramisu, which tripped a light fantastic on our palates. This was tiramisu with an astronomic wow factor, according to my companion. The two infant girls at the next table loudly agreed.
Be aware that Angelo shouts greetings (“Ciao, bella”) and suggestions to his customers as he works, so noise levels can rise, especially when those customers are other Italians and their small children.
While we were there, a steady stream of locals made extensive use of the much cheaper takeaway prices, and all the while, Angelo kept up the banter, occasionally checking that we were happy with our food. We were, and we’ll be back.
Across the street and a few doors down (at 40, rue Saint Honoré) is the quaintly named Lovin’ Caviste, a self-styled “contemporary” wine store with an interesting stock of big-hitting Burgundies and Bordeaux, and a sampling of new-generation winemakers from southern France, many producing organic wines. They also have some New World wines and an unexpected collection of rare malt whiskies.
Lastly, I regret to report the demise of a favorite restaurant, Les Zingots. It will be sorely missed.
Procopio Angelo: 89, rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris. Tel.: 01 40 41 06 25. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli. Nearest Vélib stations: 29, rue Berger; 36, rue de l’Arbre Sec. Open Monday for dinner only; Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner (last service: 10.30pm). A la carte: €25-€30* (takeaway prices are 25-30 percent lower).
* three courses, not including wine
Reader Joe Wright writes: “I had my mind made up that I was going to eat at traditional French restaurants when I visit Paris in December, like “Chez Denise”, “Chez Robert et Louise” etc. However, as a frequent visitor to Italy (especially Florence), your article on Procopio Angelo has reminded me of just how much I love the Tuscan cuisine that you get in the likes of “Osteria Belle Donne” and “Alla Vecchia Bettola” in Florence. But also how much my family and I enjoyed the meal we had at a little Italian Restaurant, “Presto Fresco”, in Rue Montmartre when we visited Paris last July. My heart says French …. my tummy says Italy!”
© 2008 Paris Update
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