When the grey skies and Citroën-clogged boulevards of Paris get you down, there’s nothing to lift your spirits like a spot of sun-ripened Italian food. Our recommended restaurants serve up everything from pizza and pasta to succulent seafood and vintage vinos. You can’t do better than these, short of taking a trip to the Adriatic. Buon appetito!
Recommended: The 100 best restaurants in Paris
Amici Miei, (‘my friends’), is an authentic Sardinian trattoria, the sort that feeds you up with all the flavours of Italy. Carpaccio and salads compete for starters, followed by generous pasta or risotto dishes and thin crust pizzas. Marry it all together with a good wine from the transalpine selection, delivered by relaxed and efficient waiters. This place is never empty – with a bit of luck you’ll even see celebrities Romain Duris or Anna Mouglalis wrestle with their spaghetti. Arrive early – or the only slice of Italy you’ll be taking home will be inside a pizza box.
It’s always reassuring to come across Italians in an Italian restaurant. Try Caffè Boboli's burrata with grilled vegetables, alongside a plate of octopus carpaccio with tomatoes and steamed potatoes. Helpings are generous and quite pricey, with each around €12. It’s the beautiful carbonara, however, which reigns supreme. No messing around, no unnecessary crème fraiche. Nothing but egg, guanciale (Italian cured meat) and pasta. At €15, this could be the best pasta carbonara in Paris.
A meal at Come a Casa isn't for anyone with issues around personal space – you feel like you're elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee with pretty much everyone else in the place. But if you like cheese and wine and perfect pasta in a sweet little neighbourhood joint that's worth crossing town for, you're in luck. It really is tiny – not more than 20 seats around tightly-wedged folding metal tables balancing glassware and mismatched vintage floral crockery.
The décor is minimal and the atmosphere supercharged, with the white-hatted and –aproned chef preparing and firing his ample pizzas in the centre of the room, making a fine spectacle as he manages his team and feeds the big sharing tables. He maintains an admirable good humour, and his pizzas are thin-based, crunchy and generously loaded with fresh and flavourful ingredients. We loved the San Nicolas (ricotta, mozzarella, bresaola, rocket and parmesan, €16) and the Ronzatti.
This Italian delicatessen offers in-store tastings of its fresh imported produce (as well as prepared dishes) from midday to 8pm. Try the tremendous charcuterie platter, a heap of speck, smoked ham, ciausculo and other Italian specialities, plus bread and hot chilli-infused olive oil. It is snacking perfection, especially when paired with a Tuscan red like the Morellino di Scansano. The cheese platter was even more impressive, with its two varieties of goat’s milk pecorino (one salted) and cow’s milk blue cheese, served with grapes and a jar of eucalyptus honey.
On a little deserted street in the 16th arrondissement, in the middle of a glut of embassies, sits one of the best Sicilian restaurants in Paris. It resembles a typical trattoria on the inside – tiled walls, bustling waiters and a mouth-watering smell coming from the kitchen. Dishes contain only locally sourced products; starters include mussels in tomato sauce and aubergines and mozzarella bruschetta. All dishes are generous, simple and sublime, thanks to flavourful ingredients. On the pricey side, the lunchtime three-course set menu is €31, or €60 à la carte.
Popine seems out-of-place on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant, where high-quality restaurants are generally rare. Cutely decked out with trendy wooden tables, a wall-length bar counter and plenty of exposed brick, this Italian restaurant offers a brilliant menu of pizzas, split across three mouth-watering categories (Rosse, Bianche and Gourmet). In true Italian style, here the dough is equally as important as the toppings – it’s generously thick but airy, due to a 24-hour resting period before baking.
Sharing premises with Pastificio, a fresh pasta shop run by chef Giovanni Passerini and his wife Justine, the Restaurant Passerini welcomes diners in a spacious main room, equipped with large bar counter and stylish open kitchen. His menu focuses on simple, traditional Italian dishes, with a short menu of two starters, two pasta dishes, a main and a dessert available every day for lunch. A brilliant French and Italian wine menu compiled by sommelière Cécile Massé (also ex-Rino) allows each dish to flow seamlessly into the next.
Owned by the same Italian-born proprietor as Squatt Wine Shop, Pietro Rusanno, this wine-cellar-cum-restaurant is small and intimate, with an open kitchen and shelves stocked full of wine – red, white, and 100% Italian. The short menu changes constantly throughout the week and it’s nigh on impossible to choose between Rusanno’s simple creations. From beef pancetta with wild fennel pesto to crunchy pak choi with prawns and pistachio pesto – everything is perfectly balanced.
A few streets away from their former outpost, Milano-Sicilian couple Federica Mancioppi and Fabirizio Ferrara revived firm Parisian favourite the Caffé des Cioppi at a new address on the Rue de Dahomey. The menu is packed with delightfully fresh Italian classics; from a super-smooth Puglia burrata laid on a bed of beetroot, fresh peas and rocket to ‘Monograno’ spaghetti in a sauce of sumptuous mussels and clams. A fruity Venetian white wine, Benavides Vignale Cecilia 2013, is exemplary of the fine selection of Italian bottles on offer, while even the espressos prove a winning final touch. Superb.