29, rue de Cotte, in the 12th Arrondissement.
01 43 47 47 05. Closed Sun and Mon.
Located in a bustling market neighborhood behind Bastille, La Gazzetta has been a favorite for several years. With soft lighting, leafy palm trees and polished dark wood, this beautiful space would be a hit among the local bobos no matter what was happening in the kitchen.
The output of that kitchen, however, reveals that La Gazzetta is aiming to be much more than a neighborhood bistro. Their choice to install an avant-garde Swedish chef behind the stove attracted plenty of first-year media attention. Since that time, Petter Nilsson’s cooking—often inspired and always eclectic—has helped establish La Gazzetta as a destination for food adventure.
What do I mean by eclectic? Well, my most recent meal opened with a white orb floating alongside some cardoons in a broth that had been spiked with sweet Cévennes onion and mullet roe (pictured below). The voluptuous yolk, when I broke into the poached egg with my spoon, mingled beautifully with the anise-scented cardoon, and the bite was either earthy and sweet or briny and sharp, depending on how many fish eggs I managed to capture. I’ve seen cardoons in Italy and in the South of France (where Nilsson previously worked), but I’ve never had the pleasure of eating this delicious weed in Paris.
This starter was part of a six-course menu that also promised raw beef with parsnips and purslane (another weed), cod with salsify (yet another weed), veal knuckle with raw sea urchin and verbena, a suckling pig with rancio, and a dessert tarte composed of bergamot and Mont d’Or. I was thrilled, when I first laid eyes on that menu, to realize that I had very little idea how these dishes might taste.
The good news: they tasted great—at least to somebody at the table. Each person in our group could name one dish that she didn’t love, but this varied and provided much wine-fueled discussion fodder.
Speaking of wine, the list is solid and generous. Both of our bottles, despite the fact that they were each priced under 25 euros, earned star treatment from the staff—a chilly bucket for the white and a classy decanter for the red. Small touches like this have made each of my visits to La Gazzetta feel special, even if the bill screams “affordable bistro.” About that bill: one can opt at dinner to have five courses for 38 euros or seven courses for 50 euros. Our group of four ordered two of each format and shared bites of the “bonus” dishes. With two bottles of wine, the total came to (an extremely reasonable) 55 euros per person. I can’t think of anywhere else in Paris where I can sample seven dishes, guzzle half a bottle of wine and enjoy that level of service for under 60 euros. The lunch menu is radically different (more comfort, less provocation), but a trip-worthy steal with two courses at 16 euros.
In a nutshell: La Gazzetta is a sexy space that’s just perfect for a date, assuming that you’ve wisely selected a date who will eat absolutely anything. Don’t expect to be familiar with every item on the menu—this place is like school, but more delicious. Polished service and affordable wine.
If you like the sound of La Gazzetta but want a bit more bustle:
129, ave Parmentier, in the 11th.
01 43 57 45 95.