Come a Casa: Just like home

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Flavia Federici is an architect, born in Rome and transplanted to Paris. Her passion for food, design, and all things Italian led her to open – at the end of August -- her tiny, welcoming trattoria just steps from the Voltaire Métro in the 11th arrondissement. Walk into the casually but carefully appointed brocante-decorated eatery and you instantly feel as though you’ve been transported to Italy: the aromas, Flavia’s earnest smile and accent, the assortment of aged Pecorino cheeses sitting like a still life in the window. Her enthusiasm and energy are evident everywhere, in the careful selection of the 1950’s cast-off chairs and tables, the serving plates, as well as silverware. On the menu you’ll find a carefully crafted assortment of Percorino sheep’s milk cheese brought in regularly from a small producer in Umbria: some smoked, some aged in stone grotte, or natural caves, served with homemade confiture. Fat slices of rye bread from the Parisian bakery Blé Sucré arrive lightly toasted, rubbed gently with fresh garlic, topped with outrageously delicious ricotta salata (firm, aged, and salty, from the same Umbrian cheesemaker) and sprigs of fresh rosemary. One could make a meal of that! But don’t stop there: My favorite here is the ethereally light lasagne (photo) with fillings that change from day to day, with such variations as artichokes, spinach, or pesto, all topped with slivers of fragrant Parmesan and a touch of arugula. The wine list is compact, including a spicy, elegant Mazzi Brunello di Montepulciano and the dry Tuscan Sangiovese red, Lodola Nuova Vino Nobile de Montepulciano.



7, rue Pache

Paris 11

Tel: +33 1 77 15 08 19

Métro: Voltaire

Open 10:30AM to 3PM and 6PM to 10:30PM

Closed Sunday

Prices 15€ starters, 15€ main courses, 7 to 9 € desserts

Reservations recommended

West Country Girl

Galettes West Country Girl 2 11

No, West Country Girl is not a gas station dive along America’s Route 66. The West Country refers to Brittany in the west of France, where one finds some of the most delicious galettes, classic buckwheat crêpes filled with ham, cheese, and an egg. Galettes can be leaden or ethereal, and here in this small, 50’s-style diner they are truly outstanding -- parchment-paper thin and golden. (The selection is huge, including mimolette and spinach; Camembert and bacon; goat cheese and spinach; bacon and mushrooms.) Dessert offerings might include a memorable sweet crêpe topped with meltingly delicious salted caramel. Go for what’s on the plate and the charming service. The floors are bare concrete, walls distressed plaster, chairs colorful castoffs  from the 1950’s. Lunch will set you back around 9 to 12 euros. Oysters are also one the menu later in the week.

West Country Girl, 6, Passage Saint-Ambroise, Paris 11. Tel: +33 1 47 00 72 54. Métro: Saint-Maur or Parmentier. Open lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Tuesday lunch only. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Al Taglio: Dream pizza by the kilo


Along with the wood oven treasures from Pizza Chic (113, rue de Mézíères, Paris 6) I vote Al Taglio’s pizzas as some of the best in Paris. Walk into this small, casual eatery at noon and the chef will already have three or four giant rectangles of steaming pizza set out before you.  On a recent weekday we found mouth-watering Margherita; mozzarella and Parma ham; a version topped with truffle cream and thin discs of potato; and porcini and Parmesan. The crust is thick and airy, the kind of chewy, long-rise dough my Italian mother used to make, and all ingredients are fresh. You indicate the size of slice you want, they weigh it, and you pay by the kilo. Prices range from about 27 to 36 euros per kilo, with an average slice priced at around 5 euros.  I’ll be going back to sample the spicy sausage and artichoke variation. And imagine, having one delivered to your door? Too good to be true.

Al Taglio, 2 bis rue Neuve Popincourt, Paris 11. Tel : +33 1 43 38 12 00. Metro: Parmentier or Oberkampf. Open daily noon to 11 pm (until midnight Friday and Saturday.) Deliveries of whole pizzas, serving 8 to 10, 24 hours in advance.

Paris bistro Astier: For old times (and new)


A lovely, old-time bistro dinner in Paris last night at Astier, a longtime favorite just off the Place de la Republique. My best memories were of their classic bistro favorite, lapin à la moutarde (slow-cooked rabbit with mustard sauce) and their more than generous cheese tray, a tradition that, alas, is slowly dying as everyone seems to be cutting back, cutting back, in more ways than one. We were greeted at the door by a handsome 40-something  gentleman with jet-black hair and an eager, winning smile. My friend Susan Herrmann and I giggled with pleasure at the printed menu before us, then there were more grins as the daily specials appeared on a blackboard before us. SEASONAL, SEASONAL, SEASONAL, you can't get much more in the groove of the season than this! All sorts of wild game -- partridge, wild hare, and venison -- appeared, and herring fresh from the market, autumnal quince and of course fresh scallops from Brittany. Even though we are truly the SEASONAL GIRLS, we were overwhelmed. We almost needed a conference (of two) on what to order! We opted for the smoked young herring (saw some gorgeous fresh specimens at the President Wilson market this morning) and it was truly the BEST EVER in both of our books. All too often herring is too salty, too smokey, too rich. This almost had the texture of swordfish (sorry, but that's what it reminded me of, only in texture) and was anointed with just the faintest hint of smoke. Served, of course, in a classic rectangular white porcelain terrine, with tiny potatoes that I found just a bit on the bland side. I opted for a starter of rabbit rillettes, moist, flavorful, not too fatty and served with giant pink picked shallots, a recipe I need to perfect ASAP! The roasted codfish wrapped in ham and bathed in fresh white shell beans and a touch of tomato offered a lovely, light touch, and the dessert of poached quince hit the spot. During the evening , we found out that the 40ish something Monsieur Robert recalled that I had written about a certain restaurant,  Christine, where he worked some 20 years ago, and sent him more customers than he could handle. Run, don't walk to Astier these days, and be sure to say hello to Monsieur Robert and look in at their newest effort, a lovely épicerie/restaurant/carry out -- JeanneA -- with rotisserie right next door.

Astier, 44, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris. Telephone 01 43 57 16 35. Open daily. Metro: Parmentier or Oberkampf.

JeanneA, 42 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris. Telephone 01 43 55 09 49. Metro: Parmentier or Oberkampf.