Osteria Barberini (Rome, Italy)

Osteria Barberini
Via della Purificazione 20
00187 Rome, Italy
Dining date: 10/24/14

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While researching for restaurants to try in Rome, we came across this place – Osteria Barberini. It had very strong reviews everywhere we looked, including being a top 50 restaurant on TripAdvisor (4.5 stars on over 1700 reviews) and holding 4.5 stars on Yelp. The restaurant touts its truffle menus (especially as white truffles were in season) and reviews raved about the truffle dishes. Was exactly what we were looking for. We attempted to make a reservation and found dinner completely booked, however we were able to squeeze in a late lunch table.

Osteria Barberini’s menu has a lot of classic Italian favorites within its antipasti, primi, and secondi areas of the menu. However, there is an additional category featuring dishes using black and white truffles. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call them cheap, truffles (particularly white) were significantly cheaper in Italy compared to prices in the U.S. We first noticed this during our first night at Da Francesco, but Osteria Barberini’s pricing was also reasonable with white truffle dishes in the low-€20s and black truffle dishes in the mid-teens. We focused in on the truffle dishes (while in Rome!) and ordered a couple of items off the regular menu.

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Da Francesco (Rome, Italy)

Da Francesco
Piazza del Fico 29
00186 Rome, Italy
Dining date: 10/22/14 and 10/24/14

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The first…and last…dinner in Rome was here at Da Francesco. While walking around the Piazza Navona area, we found this restaurant on Yelp. Located just east of the piazza, it had positive reviews and pictures with raves of a black truffle pasta. While I’m not always so trusting of Yelp, the pictures looked great and the prices reasonable (few dishes reach €20).

porcini

The menu is fairly extensive featuring everything from classic Italian appetizers to pastas, pizzas and heartier main courses. Porcini mushrooms were in season and a highlight on the menu (with the bounty displayed at the front of the restaurant). Menu and staff were also pretty English-friendly. We actually enjoyed the meal so much on our first evening that we returned on our last night to give a few more items a try.

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L’Astrance (Paris, France)

L’Astrance
4 rue Beethoven
75016 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/28/14

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After lunch at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, our last meal in Paris was dinner here at l’Astrance. A Michelin three star and currently #38 on the world’s best restaurant list, it was our toughest reservation too as the popular restaurant has 25 tables and is open only four days a week. Luckily, we scored a table through our hotel concierge.

Pascal Barbot trained under Alain Passard at l’Arpege and brings many of the same principles, using high quality seasonal ingredients and simple preparations to allow the ingredients to shine. Barbot does incorporate more meat into his dishes, though. Having spent a bit of time cooking in Asia, there are hints of Asian techniques and flavors throughout. There is no menu; the restaurant creates a surprise tasting each night (€210).

menu

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Paris, France)

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 rue de Montalembert
75007 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/28/14

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This Paris Saint-Germain location was the first of Joel Robuchon’s l’Atelier concepts, which is now a worldwide chain. Holding two Michelin stars and ranked #31 in the latest world’s best restaurant list (and as high as #12 in 2012), it’s oft-regarded as the best of Robuchon’s l’Atelier restaurants.

In my first trip to Europe seven years ago, this restaurant was easily the best (and by far most expensive) meal I had. It’s still one of the more memorable dining experiences I’ve had and I wanted to return once more to see if the restaurant was as good as I remembered. There are no lunch specials at this location, just a la carte and a €179 discovery tasting menu. A la carte starters and mains price in the €40-€80 range each so I figured the 10-course tasting menu was the way to go.

kitchen

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L’Arpège (Paris, France)

L’Arpège
84 rue de Varenne
75007 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/27/14

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L’Arpege has been high on my list of restaurants to try for some time. When I first traveled to Paris seven years ago, I remember walking around the corner from the Rodin Museum just to see the restaurant from the outside. Having just graduated from college, I sorely lacked the funds to consider dining here and wondered if I ever would. On this next trip, this was my most anticipated meal in Paris.

L’Arpege has been around for almost 30 years and has become one of the most notable dining establishments in the city. Cheffed by Alain Passard, it’s a Michelin three star (and has been since 1996) and is currently ranked the #25 best restaurant in the world (the highest ranked Parisian establishment). Passard is known for being a visionary and pioneer particularly as it relates to vegetables. The restaurant maintains its own organic gardens to supply its produce and even removed meat from its menu for a period of time. Today, meat is back on the menu but the focus is still clearly on vegetables at l’Arpege.

As with many Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, it can get expensive. Very expensive. The restaurant’s current tasting menu runs at €370 with a vegetable tasting at €290. However, lunchtime brings one more option – a €140 lunch tasting. A relative bargain, we came for lunch and opted for this choice.

knife

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Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France)

Le Chateaubriand
129 ave Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/25/14

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Le Chateaubriand was our first dinner in Paris. While the restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star, it is ranked #27 on the latest World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (ranking as high as #9 in 2011). Reviews appeared to be pretty mixed with some loving it and some hating it; I was intrigued to find out what the restaurant had to offer.

Le Chateaubriand is an example of Paris’ bistronomy movement, serving fine dining-inspired cuisine in a much more relaxed, casual atmosphere. Its tasting menu, at 65 euros, is significantly less than most Michelin starred restaurants in the city, especially for dinner. Two seatings are available; the first one is by reservation two weeks in advance and the second is walk-in only. Unfortunately, we failed at getting a reservation and opted for the walk-in route. We ended up waiting approximately two hours after getting there at 8:30. The neighboring wine shop had plenty of business from us and other diners-in-waiting.

interior

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