When a trusted friend told me that dinner at Il Giramondo was his favourite meal in Paris, this Italian restaurant immediately moved to the top of my own travel to-do list. And lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long to experience this best kept secret for myself.
Located in Paris’ 7th arrondissement, or district, Il Giramondo is just a stone’s throw from one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tower.
Completed on March 31st, 1889, the Eiffel Tower stands tall (324 metres) and proud over a city with a rich and storied history. The views over Paris from its observation decks are breath-taking. If you’re feeling ambitious you can climb the stairs all the way to the top but with 1,665 steps ahead of you, be kind to yourself and take the lift instead.
I, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the top, but perhaps another time. On that sunny day I could think of nothing but lunch at Il Giramondo. After a few requisite Eiffel Tower photos my travel companions and I gathered our high hopes and our appetites and were on our way.
“You’ll never find the restaurant if you don’t know where to look.”
We soon stood under a red awning emblazoned in gold letters with ‘Il Giramondo’ and peered inside the front windows. On one wall were packages of pasta, Italian biscuits, and bottles of limoncello, while another wall held a fine selection of Italian wine. Behind the L-shaped counter were several women selling quivering globes of mozzarella and antipasti, together with sausages and cold cuts. A piece of earlier advice from my friend rang true: “You’ll never find the restaurant if you don’t know where to look.” He was right, for even with the correct address, we were looking inside a very small but charming Italian delicatessen.
It didn’t look like a restaurant but I was lucky to have insider information. We walked to the back of the delicatessen and descended the wooden stairs into a warmly lit space which one of my travelling companions later called, “an underground little Italy in Paris.”
It was an intimate setting, only five tables, and each was centred with a small vase cradling two maroon tulips. We were warmly welcomed and seated by the maître d’ and the head chef greeted us from the wide window which offered a view into his open kitchen. It was this space where we later watched him plate our meals and where he frequently ducked his head out to check that we were enjoying his culinary creations.
Our wine glasses were soon filled with a fresh, crisp Tuscan chardonnay and before long our first courses appeared on the table. Mine – a vegetable salad of peas, beans, carrots, and broccoli – had been first been steamed, then chilled, and finally tossed with a simple vinaigrette. If I could assign a flavour to spring, this salad would be it.
A plate of gnocchetti sardi with crumbled sausage and pecorino made for an irresistibly rustic main dish, so much so that when one of my dining companions couldn’t finish hers, the honour fell to me.
After that, dessert should have been the last thing on my mind, but those who know me well know that I would never pass up the opportunity for a classic tiramisu. I wasn’t the only one unable to resist and as our spoons tinkled on the side of the glass the tiramisu was served in and cocoa powder dusted our lips, we all agreed that Il Giramondo really was the best kept secret in Paris.
Address: 175 rue de Grenelle, 75007, Paris, France
Telephone: +33 1 45 51 10 65
Opening Times: 9am to 10.30pm, closed on Sunday and Monday