Most foodies visiting Paris are eager to try avant-garde creations at new gastro-bistrots and/or experience the heights of famed French dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant. But if you want to sample some of the most delectable products that enliven dishes at both the über-hip bistrot Le Chateaubriand and the consummately elegant Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, then organize a few friends and make a reservation at the Italian—or rather, Sicilian—La Tête dans les Olives.
Since Franco-Sicilian Cédric Casanova founded his tiny gourmet grocery in 2008, legions of Parisian chefs have adopted not only his robust, piquant olive oils, made by family friends in western Sicily, but also a whole variety of Sicilian delicacies, from sun-dried tomatoes to bottarga tuna caviar. On weekdays, for lunch and dinner, Casanova runs a seven-seat table d’hôtes that has long been one of the hardest-to-get tables in town. Now Casanova only takes reservations at La Tête one month in advance, and he has opened a second table d’hôtes at his new delicatessen, Le Conservatoire, just down the street, run by the Sicilian Magda Pigna and seating groups of up to nine.
At both shops, guests gather at a cozy table surrounded by cans of olive oil and bouquets of wild oregano, for a feast of divine tapenades; caper-stuffed mushrooms; ricotta rolled in carrot and mint; salads of sweet Sicilian onions or oranges, olives and anchovies; and al dente pasta—maybe zesty primeluci with tuna buzzonaglia (dark belly meat), or with a “pesto” of almond, mint, sun-dried tomato and pecorino.
2 & 14 rue Sainte Marthe, 10th, 09.51.31.33.34. [email protected] com. Mon–Fri, lunch or dinner €150 for up to 5 guests; 30€ per extra person up to 7 (up to 9 at Le Conservatoire). Bring your own wine.
Prices are approximate, per person without wine.
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of France Today