"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fontana Rosa -- Restaurant Review

28 Boulevard Garibaldi
75015, Paris
Tél : 01 45 66 97 84
Webiste:  Fontana Rosa
Hours: 7 jours sur 7 pour dejeuner et diner
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  3.5 - Star..............................................................................................................................2 - Bell

We typically don’t go for Italian food, unless we want something quick then we just head off to our local neighborhood pizza places. In other words, we’ve never really been to a little higher end Italian restaurant.  So, for JJ’s birthday he wanted to try something different, an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood, a little more upscale. So, we went to “ Fontana Rosa”.  It got mixed reviews, but we decided let’s do something different.  This restaurant specializes in Sardinian cuisine.

It’s a nice enough looking building from the outside. Inside, it seemed pretty large and spacious. The owner and the maitre’d were a hoot.  They were so nice and friendly, and joking with us in French, Italian and English. And, in French he jokingly said, he would only serve us if we asked in Italian, haha!

They had a pre-fix menu: 20€ for an entrée/plat or plat/dessert. And, for 30€ you can have all 3. We did a la carte.

We ordered some apéros to begin with, me a kir with casis and JJ ordered a (European) martini on the rocks.  Martini in France is like a vermouth, and you can get it white, rosé, or red and tends to be a little on the sweet side.

Shortly after we got our drinks, we got our amuse bouche. The amuse bouche of the night was a creamy scrambled egg with sprinklings of dried fish roe. A typical Sardinian dish. JJ who hates eggs loved the dish, and I who love eggs disliked the dish. It was too, too creamy, almost like custard. The fish roe was what I expected, a little crunchy, salty and fishy.

For our entrée JJ got the “Cassola di cozze e vongole come sardegna” (mussels and clams in broth with herbs). “Oh my God”, this dish was delicious. The clams and mussels were cooked perfectly and the broth was to die for. It was clear broth devoid of any cream, but it was so rich with flavor, you didn’t want to adulterate it in anyway.  Needless to say JJ licked the bowl clean, and I have to admit I helped as well.

I got the “Mosaico di polipo con pomodoro aglio e basilica” (carpaccio of squid with olive oil and basil).  Another “Oh my God” moment. Italians believe in simple, but fresh ingredients and not a lot of ingredients.  This dish in its simplicity was unbelievably well executed and presented so beautifully. The squid was paper thin sliced; hence, not chewy, but tender.  And, the sprinkling of olive oil with basil was truly a wonderful combination.

For our plat JJ ordered the “Pesce spada alla Santioghese” (a sword fish with crushed tomatoes and cream), it was also served with some carrots and cucumbers.  JJ loved the dish. I thought it odd that the swordfish had cream, because I usually associate cream with Northern Italian cooking. None-the-less, JJ thought it was an excellent dish.

I ordered one of their specials for the evening, “Ossobuco” (Ossobuco served with saffron risotto). I don’t know why I ordered this dish, it is after all a Milanese dish and Sardinia is known for their seafood and simply roasted meats, but I have to confess, I love bone marrow and I hadn’t had it in a while.  What a mistake. The dish was unattractive; the sauce was thick and glutinous. I couldn’t even taste the meat, because the heavy cream sauce was so distracting. There was one bone marrow with the passage too small you had to use a bread stick to scoop it out, if you could keep it from cracking so I gave up. The risotto was a bit too al dente, it should’ve been creamy not glutinous.  Add insult to injury, this dish was 29€. I guess you figured I did not like this dish at all.

We did order a wonderful bottle of “Fonte venna Montepulciano d'Abruzzo” JJ’s favorite Italian wine originally 34, but was reduced to 29. It is a nice hearty dry red that goes well with very rich food.

Dessert, we got a strawberry tart. The waiter told us that it was a simple tart with the strawberries laying atop a crème pâtissière. In actuality, it was not sitting on a bed of crème pâtissière at all, but atop panne cotta, it was much lighter. I loved this dessert, very simple and surprisingly light. I told JJ I was only going to take a bite, and I wound up eating half, oh well.  And since I had mentioned to the waiter that it was Jack's birthday he put a single candle on top.

Summary:  The ambiance, the roominess of the restaurant is excellent.  They even had a little sun-room with tables, I suppose used more often for lunch.  The service is excellent. They’re not only efficient, but so friendly and amicable. I commented, “you’re all so friendly”, and our waiter replied, “that’s because we’re Italian” and I laughed, and I replied, “you’re definitely not French”.  He said his wife is French, oops!

For me the egg dish was a matter of preference. I like my eggs to look and taste more like eggs and not to have so much cream.  I immensely disliked the Ossobuco, JJ concurred that it was not a good dish.  Overall, however, JJ thought what he had was excellent.  I would like to go back and just stick to the Sardinian dishes.  So, if you go, avoid the ossobuco like the plague and only order what you know to be Sardinian!

We ordered a la carte, had two apéros and a bottle of wine for a total of 145€ for 2-people.

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