It may be really, really touristy, but it’s hard not to love Montmartre anyway. Adding to its list of charms is an incomparable Sicilian restaurant that, despite being just off the main steps up to Sacré Cœur, is figuratively off the map.
A one-Sicilian show, Michelangelo does it all – the shopping, the chopping, the table-waiting, the cooking, the sitting down with guests for a glass of wine while the pasta is boiling…it is, in fact, the equivalent of being invited over to an Italian chef’s house for dinner. When I said to him, “That seems like a lot of work,” he replied, “This is not work – being a farmer, that’s work. I do this because I enjoy it, it is a pleasure.”
And that’s a pretty good description. It doesn’t feel much like a restaurant – from the outside it just looks like a space that’s currently under renovation. There’s a long table, there’s an open kitchen behind the table, and there’s a sign on the door that reads “Entrada.” And that’s pretty much it. At 8pm on a Saturday night it is completely empty, while everything else in Montmartre is overflowing with crowds.
But once it gets going (8pm being far too early for dinner of course), it turns into a convivial private dining room, with Michelangelo bopping around in the kitchen to some crazy Italian pop music and everyone chatting away over bottles of Sicilian rosso.
Perhaps most endearing (especially for Libras) is the fact that there is no menu; or rather, there is a menu, but you don’t know what’s on it until you’re being served. On Saturday we had four plate-scraping antipasti (mozzarella, a sort of pumpkin-balsamic vinegar creation, a sardine-eggplant-artichoke creation, and a fried rice-gorgonzola ball), followed by some seriously al dente fusilli with scorpionfish and tomato sauce. Dessert was a spectacular lemon tira misu. I never expected eating out in Montmartre to be so good – or so much fun.
What You Need to Know
1) There are only 14 seats. It’s only open for dinner and reservations are mandatory.
2) Michelangelo chooses the menu (three courses, about €25, cash only), so you have to be somewhat adventurous.
3) All the products – the olive oil, the wine (€28 to €30 per bottle), the cheese – come from Sicily, so if there’s no more oregano the restaurant may suddenly close for a week while he goes to stock up (which happens to be the case this week).
3 rue André-Barsacq, 18th
Tel: 01 42 23 10 77
Metro: Anvers or Abbesses
Open Tue-Sat, dinner only