If you’ve never been to an Italian restaurant in Italy, you might be forgiven for not knowing that most Italian meals are made up of (at least) four courses: a starter, a rice/pasta opener, a fish or meat main, and finally, dessert. You might also find room for a little penultimate cheese course. Sassotondo is one of the rare Italian restaurants offering this authentic tradition outside the motherland. Opened in 2011, the 34-seater restaurant is positioned at the quiet end of Paris’ Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud – aka the heart of trendy-bar central in the 11th arrondissement.
The kitchen is in sure hands: Michel, the chef, co-founder and owner of a fabulously authentic accent is Italian, and originally from Pisa. His Tuscan roots have had a deep influence on the composition of the menu, which bristles with curiosities. In a region located between sea and mountain, the cuisine takes the best of each terrain to create an exhilarating sea-and-rock inspired menu where rabbit terrine sits comfortably next to fried calamari in the selection of starters.
The pasta course is not merely there to whet your appetite for the main; any of these offerings might make a delicious meal on its own. Testaroli with pecorino cream, nuts and balsamic vinegar; ravioli stuffed with sage-infused ricotta and quails’ eggs; taglioini with a delicious marriage of clams and cepes… For course three, how about seabass stuffed with spinach and mushrooms or melt-in-the-mouth braised beef with soft polenta? Garnishes are courageously modest, allowing the delicate combination of flavours to shine through with intensity.
Sassotondo’s menu is sufficiently select to let you know that we’re dealing with high quality, fresh produce. The restaurant’s approach to sourcing produce is as genuine as the waiters’ smiles: 85% of the dry products are imported directly from trusted suppliers in Italy. Michel regularly goes on reconnaissance missions to his homeland to source the best products and no-one was more surprised than me when he unexpectedly regaled me with tales of his rice supplier who fertilises his produce using carp – a virtually prehistoric practice by today’s standards, but one that guarantees an attention to detail that rewards every eater.
Naturalemente, the wine list is composed of a perfect Italian repertoire of every colour (plus Prosecco) – and the waiters are perfectly qualified to recommend a suitable glass or bottle to accompany your chosen dish(es).
Of course, four rich Italian courses might seem a lot for the more modest appetites among us. Whilst not an obligation, its affordability might nonetheless tempt you – if you take only dishes of the day, all four courses will set you back a very respectable €34. Otherwise, starters and desserts à la carte vary between €8-16, while mains range from €19-24. Buon appetito!
For more information, see the Sassotondo website.40 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
+33 (0)1 43 55 57 00