My Parisian Restaurant Map

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tous au Restaurant

When people say "Paris is the restaurant capital of the world" I feel like they're in that cheesy scene in the Titanic where Leonardo di Caprio yells "I'm the king of the world!". But sometimes, I do have to agree.

In this case, it's National Restaurant Week, or "Tous au Restaurant", that makes me do so.

From the 17th to the 23rd of September, a huge majority of Parisian restaurants offer special menus to intice the public to eat out more and to discover their local bistros. Which is great and all, but the real point of this week is to try to snag a reservation at one of the 'Grandes Tables,' like Guy Savoy, Alain Dutournier, Thierry Marx, Joel Robouchon and Yannick Aleno. These classic Michelin-starred establishments open their doors to us mere mortals, offering special menus that make their luxury food more accesible to the public. Naturally they can't let just anyone in, so the starting price for a 3-course meal at lunch starts at 58 Euros, going up to 300 Euros, for our deal old friend Mr. Savoy.

And of course, as in typical Parisian fashion, you have to wake up before even the sparrows have farted on the 17th and keep your mouse hovering over the restaurant that you want to reserve, because the moment they 'open' the reservation system, those 'tables d'exception' are snapped up faster than a free seat in the metro during rush hour.

But if you're like me and just itching to eat at one of these Meccas, then you might want to save up for the year, that is.

Tous au Restaurant - National Restaurant week
17th-23rd of September

The Corsica Edition: U Papacionu

If you happen to be spending your vacation in Corsica, you will be met with various diverging opinions regarding the local food. And once you set foot in Ajaccio, you might have a tendancy to side with the nay-sayers as the onslaught of carbon-copy cafes all serving crepes, paninis, pizza and ice cream hits you. But rest assured, if you only dig a little deeper you will find yourself satiated to the point of actual physical discomfort, that oh-so-familiar pain of your stomach muscles over stretching in order to accomodate the sheer quantity of deliciousness that you have dumped into it.

I will admit however, that my first discovery I owe entirely to a simple, stupid Google search for "best pizza in Ajaccio." But for once it seems all my fellow holidaymakers were talking about one place, and one place only: U Papacionu. 

Now I have been to Italy many, many, many times, and in Italy I have eaten many, many, many pizzas. All different sorts of cheezy, gooey, meaty, potatoe-y, vegetable-y goodness, topped with thick parmesan flakes that look like flower petals, or creamy burrata and mozarella di buffala that oozes like thick liquid cream when you dip your fork into it....So trust me when I say that outside of Italy, the only place that has an equally mind-blowing, stomach-clenching, mouth-watering, physically addictive effect is U Papacionu. 

The first night we went, I decided to go for the special, fancy arugula, buratta, parma ham pizza. And it was good, very, very good. But I kept seeing these giant half pizzas, so big that half of it was hanging over the lip of the plate, getting devoured next to me...and you know me, I cant help staring at what other people are eating. So despite the deliciousness of my own refined pizza, as well as the sheer volcano explosion of the calzone my husband was trying to tame, I had not really managed to get my fix. 

So the next day, back we went, and I chose the simplest pizza on the menu, the one that I assumed to be what everyone had been ordering the night before: a pizza margarita, or simply, a plain, cheese pizza.

And I kid you not when I say that this nonchalant, innocent looking yet giant slice of heaven was literally the best pizza I have ever had.

So if you're in Ajaccio and fed up of all those multipurpose tourist trap 'restaurants', and are craving a real pizza, go to U Papacionu. You might even see a real life Corsican mobster there, like we did, sitting with his back to the wall and his bodyguard next to him, at an 8-top table with only 3 people at it in the middle of the extremely busy dinner service...Oh and do reserve in advance, because you won't be the only one with a pizza craving and a google search to have had this idea. 

U Papacionu
16 rue St Charles20000 Ajaccio, CorseFrance

+33 (0) 495 212 786