Walking down the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, past the discount shoe shops and banal looking cafés, looking for number 159, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to eat outside in this neighborhood. This stretch of road, like many busy thoroughfares, doesn’t have much to recommend. But turn left or right on a good number of streets and you’ll find a likable neighborhood, often overlooked by visitors.
And so it is with the Caffé dei Cioppi. Enter the doorway of number 159 and instead of a storefront you’ll find a secluded alleyway lined with cobblestones and clinging vines. The unexpected loveliness of it all in contrast to the street you left behind makes it all the more appealing.
The voices overheard from the open kitchen on a recent spring night were Italian and the handwritten chalk board menu suggested market-driven Italian cuisine that changes often.
The menu included a generous portion of creamy buffalo mozzarella, seasoned with fruity olive oil and salt, over arugula with tender asparagus. A friend had the vittello tonnata, thin slices of chilled veal with a lively tuna and caper sauce. Mains included a well-cooked artichoke risotto—something not easy to find in France—vegetable lasagna, linguini and clams, and roasted dorade. The desserts were homemade and included Sbrisolona with marscopone, a chocolate fondant and a delicious Tiramisu.
Caffé dei Cioppi is best when the weather warms and you can sit at one of handful of tables found in the alley. The food alone, while good, might not be enough to warrant a trek across town, but combined with the atmosphere you get the perfect neighborhood restaurant with simple, yet good, food, warm service, and a backdrop that invites you to linger. It’s no wonder that it was awarded the “Fooding d’ Amour 2009” prize during last year’s annual Fooding awards.
Caffe di Cioppi
159, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine
01 43 46 10 14
Closed Saturday and Sunday; Dinner Wednesday, Thursday, Friday only.
Price for 3 courses: 30-35 € per person, not including wine
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