Tucked away in a residential neighborhood behind the Place de la Bastille, Rino is the sort of vest-pocket address that deliciously defends the gastronomic reputation of Paris far better than many of the capital’s two- and three-star tables. Young Italian chef Giovanni Passerini has made this nondescript little spot a destination table with the intriguingly inventive, market-driven menus he revises daily. Passerini moved to Paris from Rome, he explains, because “I was looking for a city where there would be an audience for innovative cooking”. He formerly worked as a sous-chef for another major foreign talent in Paris, the Swedish Petter Nilsson at La Gazzetta, and that experience helped him perfect a style that’s an intriguing blend of the angelic simplicity of new Nordic cooking and a lustier Mediterranean approach to food. I’ve eaten at Rino many times since it opened last March, and if every meal has been memorable, my favorite feed remains my first one. We started with a comforting barley risotto with orange zest and silky strips of squid, and then sampled pork shoulder, cooked sous vide so that it was still succulent with its own natural juices, served with an unusual but very good garnish of white cabbage, raisins and crushed hazelnuts. An A+ apple tart with a sablé base and a glaze of apple caramel ended the meal, and I was already confirmed as a huge fan of Passerini’s cooking. Note that the dining room here is very plain, so it’s not an address for anyone who likes atmospheric decor, much less the classic formality of silver-cloche-and-candlelight dining. But it’s definitely a great new compass point in Paris for intrepid gourmets.

46 rue Trousseau, 11th, Fixed-price menu €38  per person without wine

Originally published in the February 2011 issue of France Today

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Alexander Lobrano’s book Hungry for Paris is published by Random House. Find Hungry for Paris and more in our bookstore.

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