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Fresh Regional Ingredients and Old-School Warmth
The Tumblr page for a newer Italian eatery that has quickly become a favorite among locals bears a description that is noticeably humble: "Come a Casa is a place serving wine and food".
With self-promotion as understated as this, who could guess that the tiny bistro, the brainchild of a Roman woman who's also a trained architect, has quickly asserted itself as one of the best spots for Italian fare in the French capital?
Yet simplicity and a focus on high-quality regional ingredients over bells and whistles are the true strengths of this little restaurant. Nestled on a quiet street in in Paris' 11th arrondissement, Come a Casa-- literally, "just like at home"-- opened its doors in 2014.
Seating only around 20 people at its roughly finished wooden tables, clustered in a space smaller than many Parisian studios, the place isn't ideal if you're at all claustrophobic. But if you enjoy a warm, cozy atmosphere where you can watch the cooks at work in the old-fashioned kitchen stacked high with plates, overhearing chatter as you sample some of the best homemade Italian cooking Paris has to offer, this is a real gem.
Read related: Best Budget French Restaurants in Paris
The Menu & The Concept
Chef Flavia Federici and her partner Gianluca Tamorri run the place, and their artistic sensibilities-- Flavia is a trained architect and Gianluca a professional photographer-- are subtly visible in the simple yet aesthetically conscious decor. Unfinished and brightly painted wood dominates; all of the space, floor to ceiling, is made practical use of with cooking implements or decorations. There's a willfully distressed quality about it, but the effect is warm and slightly rustic, rather than hipsterish or pretentious.
Flavia, a native of Rome, tells me that she never really set out to be a chef, but cooking-- especially her grandmother's traditional recipes-- was always a central part of her life. In opening the restaurant, she says, her objective was to keep those family traditions alive, using ingredients sourced from quality Italian suppliers-- and to infuse them with her own twists and experiments. But always, she says, in a spirit of simplicity.
The menu is, accordingly, short, with a focus on a few key flavors and ingredients. There's a daily lasagna, an aubergine gratin, a main dish of the day, and soup of the day, along with a regular stable of starters and a humble but carefully chosen selection of Italian and French wines.
Practical Info, Location & Getting a Table:
The restaurant is located northeast of Bastille and just south of the famed Père-Lachaise cemetery. Make sure to make a reservation or arrive early, as there are only a few tables available-- and this has become quite a popular place for lunch and dinner among locals.
- Address: 7 rue Pache, 11th arrondissement
- Metro: Voltaire or Père-Lachaise (lines 2, 3, 9)
- Tel: +33 (0)1 77 15 08 19 (phone reservations recommended for non-French speakers)
- E-mail reservations and inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Payment: Cash and all major credit cards are accepted
- Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm for lunch; 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm for dinner. Closed all day on Sunday and Monday. In August, call ahead to inquire about possible summertime closures.
- Menu: Simple Italian dishes with an emphasis on authentic regional ingredients and fresh vegetables; lasagnes are a real specialty here. Fixed-price menus (starter and main or main and dessert); daily specials a la carte; wine by the glass or the bottle.
- Dress code: There's none enforced: come as you are to "come a casa".
SEE FIRST COURSE: Fresh Burrata Cheese With Truffles and Warm Cherry TomatoesContinue to 2 of 4 below.
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First Course: Fresh Burrata Cheese With Truffles and Warm Cherry Tomatoes
For my first course, I choose the fresh burrata cheese laced with truffles, salad greens and warm cherry tomatoes. I accompany it with a glass of Saladini Pilastri, a crisp white wine from the Marche region of Italy.
Served in a large ramequin, the burrata and tomatoes stand in fresh, summery contrast to the autumnal warmth of the truffles and mushrooms. I try not to gobble it up too quickly, using slices of crusty baguette to mop up every last bit. It's too delicious to waste, and I don't have the impression that this is the sort of place where you have to stand on ceremony.
SEE SECOND COURSE: Homemade Caramelle Pasta With Asparagus, Gorgonzola and WalnutsContinue to 3 of 4 below.
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Course 2: Homemade Caramelle Pasta With Asparagus, Gorgonzola and Walnuts
Next up is the main course. While I'm tempted by the lasagna and eggplant gratin of the day, I settle on the plat du jour: hand-made caramelle pasta with asparagus, chopped walnuts, and a sauce generously laced with strong gorgonzola cheese.
Gianluca kindly explains that the pasta shape was named for its resemblance to old-fashioned Italian candies in wrappers. Caramelle is firmer and chewier than ravioli, but seems to go well with similar flavors and textures. It's a shape that I'd never heard of, but it quickly wins me over.
The pasta is perfectly al dente and the sauteed asparagus a wonderful complement. I loved this dish, although I did feel that something a bit sweet (perhaps carrots or shallots) might balance what turned out to be a slightly bitter marriage of flavors (walnut and gorgonzola).
SEE THIRD COURSE/FOR DESSERT: Tiramisu I'm Sad I Can't Finish...Continue to 4 of 4 below.
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Course Three/For Dessert: Tiramisu I'm Sad I Can't Finish
By the time dessert rolls around, I'm full but unable to resist the prospect of sampling something sweet. All homemade, the choices are tiramisu, ricotta and pear tart, panna cotta, or a "cafe gourmand" (a strong espresso accompanied by several small portions of dessert).
I opt for the tiramisu-- decadent, intensely creamy, with strong notes of espresso and a generous dusting of cocoa. It's delicious, and find myself lamenting not being able to finish the generous portion (it could easily serve two people).
My Bottom Line?
This is now one of my favorite Italian eateries in the city. The passion and dedication with which Flavia, Gianluca and their staff select top-rate ingredients and create delicious fare out of them comes through in every flavorful bite, and the service is equal parts spirited and warm. I'll be heading back as soon as I can.
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