It seems that the Big Mamma Group is, once again, onto a winning formula with their pizza, pasta, brunch restaurantBiglove Caffé, in the upper Marais. The Group has given the former Rose Bakery space a magnificent makeover, transforming it into a charming Neopolitan style bar/café. The glass-plated entrance way is adorned with hanging cured meats, and the marble bar and the imposing Italian Belle Epoque style copper coffee machine set the scene for an authentic Neopolitan experience.
The menu offers a handful of fresh pasta dishes (including a gluten-free vegetable lasagne which sadly should be avoided at all costs) as well as a few appealing salad options, and an international-style brunch menu. But the pizza is why you should go to Biglove, and those who follow a gluten-free diet can rejoice, as all the pizzas here are completely gluten free. Paris is home to some very respectable pizzaiole (pizza chefs) but few who specialize in the unique style of Neopolitan pizza, that boasts a slightly thicker crust, and is more lightly baked than the well-done thin crusted versions from other parts of Italy. The result is a sort of pillowy experience, where the elements of the pizza seamlessly blend into one. The dough here is made from a mixture of buckwheat, corn and rice flours and fermented for at least 36-hours before cooking to give it a good rise and a faint acidity to the crust. For those not interested in a gluten-free diet, do not be put off for these bases are a cunning likeness to the wheat flour version and perhaps only in the thick outer crust can you tell that it’s made from alternative flours. As a point of pride for the Mamma restaurants, ingredients are of an exceptionally high standard – mostly sourced directly from favored artisanal producers in Italy – including the essential San Marzano tomatoes grown at the foot of Mt Vesuvius. The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired brick Acunta oven, hand-made in Naples, that can get to temperatures so high a pizza can be cooked in 60 seconds (just shy of 930°F/500°C). The resulting Mammargherita pizza – for me the simple concoction of tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella and fresh basil is the best litmus test for pizza – was remarkably close to a true Napolitano pizza, that is to say, very, very good.
The desserts were disappointing – the unnecessarily large portion of lemon meringue pie was cloyingly sweet and lacked any balance of acidity from the lemon cream that you might expect. The chocolate cake was devoid of any personality. Best to stick to an after-meal coffee, roasted dark and moody, true to Neopolitan style – of course.
Big Love doesn't take reservations and the lunch service fills up fast, so go early or be prepared to queue.
BIGLOVE CAFFÉ | 30 rue Debelleyme | Paris 3 | Métro: Filles de Calvaire | Open daily 8am-11pm | Pizza and main dishes €12-18 | Reservations not taken.