Racines, Tondo’s “bistrosteria”

The 30-year-old chef from Sardinia took over the famous restaurant in Paris, making fine dining democratic. A mix of Italy and France

02-02-2018

Racines, the latest Parisian adventure of Simone Tondo, at number 8 in Passage des Panoramas, tel. +33.(0)1.40130641

The quest to conquer the Parisian culinary scene of Simone Tondo, who’s just turned 30, continues successfully. After the 3-year (2012-2015) bistronomic experience at Roseval, where the young chef stood out thanks to his talent, and a year after opening gourmet restaurant Tondo, in Petter Nilsson’s old Gazzetta in Rue de Cotte, the charismatic Sardinian continues his climb. The latest adventure: Racines, the iconic restaurant in the historic Passage des Panoramas, where you can enjoy high quality products, a connection with the territory, and a well-thought-of blend of Italian and French cuisine strongpoints.

It seats 24 people inside and 8 on the terrace. The à la carte menu includes a choice of entrées, plats and desserts and some 60 natural Italian and French wines. Simone keeps his goals well in mind: «I want to guarantee a continuity with Racines’s past, after Pierre Jancou and Sven Chartier [chef at restaurant Saturne] have worked in the kitchen. I’m also paying the greatest attention to details, so that clients can enjoy their meal. We want to create a sort of sanctuary where guests can eat meat cooked as in a gourmet restaurant, and pasta as if it was made by their mum».

Simone Tondo, born in 1988

Simone Tondo, born in 1988

Gnocchi, ragout with beef cheek and capers from Pantelleria (photo @luckymiam)

Gnocchi, ragout with beef cheek and capers from Pantelleria (photo @luckymiam)

The winning team at Racines is formed first of all by Simone’s attentive and smiling managing alter ego, Stephanie Crockford (previously at Fera at Claridge’s and Brasserie Blanc), who’s the restaurant manager and was the dining room manager at Tondo. Working in the kitchen with Simone there’s faithful Likhan, Tondo’s sous-chef in the days of Roseval. The Sardinian chef says: «Some said the style of my restaurant is a bistrattoria, but I believe bistrosteria is the most suitable term for Racines. Trattorias usually have paper napkins and you won’t find printed menus. Osterias are instead the greatest emblem of restaurant offer we’ve ever had in Italy. An oste hosts and takes care of quality for the sake of the client».

Simone’s new thought started in June last year: «Following the advice of Massimo [Bottura] I dined at Osteria del Mirasole in San Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna. I was welcomed with elegance in a very simple place. With their smile, Franco and Anna present local products through high quality dishes. During the dinner in the garden, eating tortellini with cream and a variation of capocollo, I admired their spontaneity and smiling attitude».

«I wondered what I would like my food to be for my clients and decided to start doing things differently. While at Roseval and Tondo I had to make sure dishes had a culinary coherence and would interest foodies, I can now focus just on the fact that people can enjoy their meal. At Racines I finally feel free of regulations and boundaries set by the current gourmet system and I can present what I now feel closer to my heart. Many chefs try to open great restaurants, but in fact in Italy and France there are only 8, perhaps 10. I believe fine dining shouldn’t be elitist: in Italy Ratanà (Cesare Battisti) and Trippa (Diego Rossi) are two restaurants that made fine dining democratic, and I believe this should be the goal for a chef».  

Restaurant manager Stephanie Crockford (photo @luckymiam)

Restaurant manager Stephanie Crockford (photo @luckymiam)

Rice ravioli

Rice ravioli

The cuisine that Tondo offers at Racines is homely. He’s made a choice of not presenting a wine list. «A person who has no understanding of wines, wastes a lot of time looking at a list, and doesn’t necessarily make the right choice. By eliminating the wine list, we have the chance to offer what we believe is more suitable at the moment, creating a close relationship with the client».

The menu changes weekly, except for desserts. «Guests are now more prepared than 10 years ago. So I try to make dishes the people in Paris are less familiar with, preparing a homely meal that can suite more palates».

The more popular entrées include, Scampi with potatoes and hazelnuts from Piedmont, Calamari mi-cuitBone marrow with cream of parsley. Among the main courses, Tagliatelle with ragout of beef cheek and capers from PantelleriaGnocchi with spinach and sea urchins and Sweetbreads with Jerusalem artichoke mousselin and anchovies from Cetara stand out. The menu ends with two classic desserts, one French, one Italian: an unforgettable Tiramisù and a Lemon tart with meringue and Sarawak pepper. Every dish makes you wish to return.

Soup of spinach and nettles  

Soup of spinach and nettles  

A final trivia fact that sounds like a prophecy and good omen. Passage des Panoramas is the most ancient roofed passage in Paris. It’s also famous because it was one of the first to be equipped with gas lights. It makes you proud that there’s an Italian contributing in keeping this ancient light turned on, in the Ville Lumière, thanks to his talent.

Racines
8 Passage des Panoramas,
Paris, France
+33.(0)1.40130641
Average prices: entrées 14, plats 25, desserts 9 euros
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays


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