This tiny restaurant, tucked away on a small street just off Rue Rambuteau, offers uncomplicated, grown-up Italian dining. Head to Baffo for its intimate atmosphere, sophisticated home cooking and friendly service.
Don’t be misled: although this neighbourhood restaurant is casual and welcoming, serving up instantly recognizable Italian staples, there isn’t a checkered tablecloth in sight. With an almost Scandinavian style minimalism, Baffo is a modern, sophisticated take on the traditional Italian trattoria. The menu is just as simple, offering suggestions such as Octopus. Jewish Artichokes. Pici with Sword Fish. The descriptions give little away and offer no clue as to how delicious your order is likely to be.
We were last at Baffo at the beginning of December. It was chilly outside but the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. Because the place is so small, the waiter is never far away. Ours was laid back and chatty, switching effortlessly between English and French. He was attentive—quick to explain the menu and recommend a wine. We chose the seasonal vegetables and squid as starters and the razor clam truffle pasta as a main. The vegetables, served in their own broth with little burrata balls, were utterly delicious. The squid was soft and juicy. We probably could have stopped there but devoured the pasta and its sweet, succulent shellfish with gusto.
Another reason to go to Baffo is that there is a wide range of gluten-free options. The menu changes with the seasons, or even more regularly, depending on what ingredients are fresh and available.
Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in the French capital but Baffo stands out from the crowd with its exquisitely prepared pasta and inventive starters. Book a table as it fills up fast, but it should be possible to get something at relatively short notice (or if you show up early). Buon appetito!