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Italian cuisine according to Ducasse

In Paris the new Cucina Mutualité, a trattoria guided by Matteo Lorenzini, is shining. His risotto deserves an A+

The Masion de la Mutualité is a very serious place in Paris, a theatre in the 5th arrondissement, which has been keeping company to the Parisians since it was built in 1930, a point of reference for French democrats. With many ups and a few downs, it opened again in 2012 after it was completely renovated. It is now a great place to organise events of all sorts.

Matteo Lorenzini, from Tuscany to Paris joining Alain Ducasse

Matteo Lorenzini, from Tuscany to Paris joining Alain Ducasse

On the ground floor, on September 24th opened with Alain Ducasse and his interpretation of Italian cuisine. It opened in late September to replace a restaurant which, ironically, was a hymn to the territory of Paris. It is an uncommon case of an Italian restaurant worth recommending to Italians. This is not always the case, but it is true that there’s a growing number of exceptions and the time will come when they will no longer be such.

At 20 Rue Saint-Victor, there’s Matteo Lorenzini, only 33 but with a long career already, including two beautiful projects in Tuscany, first at Tre Lune a Calenzano (Florence) and then at Se.Sto On Arno in Florence, which ended too soon to become established. Then Ducasse called him on the banks of the Seine being well aware that Matteo knows all of his alphabet, since he learnt it during the six months spent at Louis XV in Monte Carlo, with Ducasse himself.

Because of his balance between Tuscany and France, Matteo in Italy appeared like a chef of French inspiration and technique, while now in Paris he’s a champion of Italy. The place recalls the image of osterias and Italian dining, with a large counter in the middle, and tables all around, standing against the walls. The ceilings are high and there’s a nice laid-back atmosphere.

Alessio Impagliazzo runs the dining room, after his experience in Nice and Dubai. He smiles and runs, no way a client will think he was abandoned or forgotten. And here he is serving some pizzetteor some Italian cured meat. Then come all sorts of starters, from veal in tuna sauce to caponata, a salad of beans, tuna and onions from Tropea (no chance another type will be used…) and octopus with potatoes.

Lorenzini shows off his technique with the first courses. There are meat and fish mains, of course, but I didn’t get to the roast turbot and sea bass, to the cutlet with an “elephant ear” or the Florentine steak, a very classic offer representing Italy.  At Cucina I enjoyed one of the best risottos in my life, with ink squid and lobster, creamy and aromatic, served in a casserole tin with the handle designed by Ducasse himself, perfect for pasta or rice, or a stew. The waiter places one in the middle of the table and guests help themselves as if they were at home. So the limit is not set by the bowl, which if you’re hungry and the dish is excellent is always too small. It is set by the casserole tin which is always larger and more generous if you want a second helping. Excellent risotto, and excellent paccheri with beef cheek bacon, worthy of the national anthem. The same applies to the service.

My dream? I hope that Lorenzini will convince Ducasse to leave him free to change some details, like the Recco “focaccia”, which to a Ligurian would have looked rather like a piadina, or the name of the lunch menu, O Sole Mio. But these are just glitches, we all have some.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

20 rue Saint Victor
75005 Parigi
Closed: never, open daily at lunchtime and in the evening.
Average prices: starters 20 euros; first courses 16; fish 25 and meat 28; desserts 8

Cibi Divini

Restaurants from all the world told in Il Giornale by Paolo Marchi from February 1994 to the winter of 2011. And since the spring, for the readers


Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.

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