Chez Davia: cuisine Niçoise elevated from rustic tradition to sophisticated perfection

Chez Davia is one of these rare family-owned restaurants today still handed down through generations. Born of Italian emigrants to the Riviera, first their daughter took over, and currently in the third hands of the impressive grandson Pierre Altobelli, the meal at this classic Niçoise restaurant might be the best you will savour in Nice.

Mother, son, plus a friendly and authentically sharp Niçoise workforce chez Davia create a familial ambience. The Japanese wife of the chef also sometimes helps out, while during lunch service his son hops around. Finesse and a sophisticated touch on cuisine Nissarde shows in his elegant handling and seasoning of the local, carefully selected ingredients. Even the floral arrangements like an artichoke bouquet in spring and sunflowers in summer feel like Southern fields blossoming with edible beauty.

Nicoise bistroChez Davia

Riviera bounty transformed with precision

Sometimes the Bib Gourmand by Michelin guides to a greater satisfaction from a meal than any starred experience. Davia is the one restaurant in Nice we always return to when in the region. In the nearby pompous Monaco, one could only dream about such an authentically elevated, local, quality dining and Cannes is either bling bling or not worth the trip. No tasting menus, caviar, gold, lobsters and wagyu beef from distant lands arrive in the tiny kitchen chez Davia.

After gaining experience at the legendary restaurants in the region, chef Pierre gathered further skills and knowledge around the world — from the truffled cuisine at Bruno (Lorgues), Ducasse (Louis XV in Monaco), Maximin (Vence), Morisset, Gagnaire (Paris), Yannick Alleno, with brothers Pourcel he traveled to work in Shanghai, then moved to Hong Kong (Amber), Troisgros in Tokyo and finally at the Intercontinental in Osaka he met his current wife. Back in Nice, the chef with his passionate team elevate what they are given by the Mediterranean fisherman and Alpes Maritimes farmers into still authentic plates, yet better.

Cuisine NissardeTarte du Citron

Fresh lemon tart Tart du lemon in South of France

Sweet homey delights chez Davia

On our recent visit, the adorable mother of the chef took the orders with her broken English (my basic French mended all holes) and dedicatedly sat behind the desert counter, counting the receipt slips with such seriousness, that she must have recounted each at least three times. Chef Pierre Altobelli often ventures out from the kitchen later in the service, aiding the floor staff such as assuring that a proper grate of the sanguine-hued lemon zest is snowed over the exquisite lemon tart. The fragrant home-made tart is a must. A thin, buttery crust crumbles wholesomely under your spoon and the citrus fresh custard swishes through the mouth so lightly and puissant! Since I got carried away by the end of the meal, the crème brûlée is torched prior to serving, and while the ice cream is only vanilla flavour, it is made by a regional artisan for those who just must have it. The compact, open kitchen is just too small to add a gelato machine in.

Chez DaviaNicoise bistro cuisine

Seasonal gems on the weekly changing menu

In spring fava beans and green pea pods make it into homemade tagliatelle pasta au pistou (herbs and olive oil pesto) cooked perfectly al dente (in summer the delicate white coco beans take reign). A firm bite with fresh spring flavours. Also with young sugar-snap peas and sheep’s curd, the young favettes beans shine as much as on the raw artichoke salad.

We always order the signature marinated anchovies spiced up with pimment d’espelette generously drizzled over with olive oil. This is perhaps the best anchovy preparation we have ever put into our mouths, that perfectly pairs with the locally sourced bread, soaking all that perfection like a sponge. Delicately melting on your tongue with the sweet, slow roasted, skinned red pepper, topped with fresh basil leaves and a scant rosemary seasoning for some mouthfuls’ brightness of herbal flare.

Also a staple chez Davia are the stuffed sardines with the green leaves of chard. Crisply breaded, not greasy, the stuffed deep fried fish is accompanied as most sea bounty here with a slice of lemon.

Riviera cuisineCuisine Nissarde

Cold served ratatouille with Moroccan curry spice in summer. Aubergine and zucchini pickles add vinegary kick and a petal of courgette flower like a boat delivered the most sublime mouthfuls into my needy lips. In the heat, also the perfect rendition of Salade Niçoise or cold rabbit terrine with fragrant sage, a generous minestrone or soup with pistou (French version of pesto, without nuts, just herbs, garlic and oil). Aioli provencal also mades it into the menu. Basically, Riviera meets provencal cookbook with Italian influences (Nice used to belong to Italy), voila Niçoise cuisine! San Remo tender shrimps were served raw with a drizzle of olive and the lemon gold. Stockfish was cooked in San Remo style.

Nice bistroMediterranean CuisineFresh peas, lava beans, sheep's curdNicoise cuisine

With minced veal stuffed little local vegetables cannot be omitted on the traditional menu in Nice, and they also can make the main course. Still, in chef Pierre’s rendering they are delicately handled, not overcooked as elsewhere and light. The fish changes according to the daily catch. The Fennel fried line-caught rouget fish (red mullet) served with lemon and spicy rocket salad from Ventimiglia market was extraordinary. We know the farmers on this Italian border market very well. Only there we could find the best quality vegetables, seafood and fish on the entire Riviera. The daily-changing cheese plate is also from this market, but curated selectively from small local producers around the border between France and Italy.

Daube de beuf comme l’arriere pays Nicoise chez Davia is cooked slowly to mount-melting tenderness of the beef and topped with cooked beetroot and black Nicoise olives.

Mediterranean line-caught fishNicoise cuisine

The wine list chez Davia are mostly Southern bottles ranging from very affordable to rare finds. Many biodynamic or organically farmed. We like the local Clos St Vincent Blanc Le Clos from the whites if on the list (it slightly changes almost daily). Designated AOC Vin de Bellet, the winery spreads across the Niçoise hilly back country. Another time, a glass of Languedoc rosé to start was fresh yet floral deep like a blooming hibiscus. A characterful Rhone Syrah (photo far bellow) took us by our tails, so returning for second time that same week, we had to get another bottle.

wine from NiceMediterranean cheesefromageFrench wine

The menu chez Davia is handwritten entirely in French, but during the most touristy summer they pen up an additional English version. The sharp and helpful sommelier or the other waiters are eager to help with translation.

The only other family run restaurant with a similar style in Nice is the much smaller La Merenda in the old town. We like them both, but found the cuisine now chez Davia more refined, even sophisticated, while still satisfying with abundant, balanced flavours.

Address: 1bis Rue Grimaldi, 06000 Nice

Open for lunch Wednesday-Sunday 12:30-2pm & dinner 7:30-10pm

Closed all day Monday and Tuesday for lunch.

Flaveur: brotherly exotic touch on Michelin gastronomy in Nice

Flaveur’s contemporary, by the sea-inspired design illustrates that its skeleton was built with the Mediterranean genes of its two head French chefs – the Tourteaux brothers, while its culinary flesh reflects the surrounding environment of their intrepid lives. Like sun tanning the skin, wind turning the cheeks red, exotic travels and a childhood in Guadeloupe coloured the face of the brothers’ first culinary duet. Evasion is the theme at this Niçoise two Michelin stared restaurant.
Flaveur's contemporary Mediterranean design
The sea is represented by wood-carved fish and pebbles, while olive branches adorning the walls at Flaveur maintain the accent on the Mediterranean. The French brothers fly in their exotic travel experiences to flatter to the local, seasonal ingredients such as asparagus, fish, lemon and wild herbs. Their transcendental approach yielded well-deserved two Michelin stars in 2018.
Flaveur creative plates
The finest meal in Nice, like a fine painting, Flaveur profoundly impacts on our overjoyed senses. The foreign spices dance vibrantly around, highlighting the fresh local ingredients. Gaël Tourteaux gained his starry gastronomic experiences with the chef Michel del Burgo (Executive Chef of Hotel de Bristol and the three Michelin-starred Taillevent in Paris), at Nice’s Negresco with the acclaimed chef Alain Llorca, and later with the Japanese perfectionist Keisuke Matsushima. His brother Mickaël also worked with these chefs, sweeping in the southern culinary mecca – Moulin de Mougins.
Flaveur's amouse bouche
Floral cum shoots art on the plate permeates the dining experience. Always served in a crystal sea urchin bowl and white organically shaped porcelain the trio of appetisers evoke the sea and plants. Once, a Half-cooked Scottish salmon with Combawa and Granny Smith apple salsa, Haloumi and Kiwano relished in tiny mouthfuls was intriguing kicking with the Combawa (kaffir lime), the sensible seasoning cut the fatty richness of the fish. This summer the “iodine” trio included: Broccoli and chervil atop a bonito patè with gomasio (Japanese sesame seasoning) – nice, dried flossy beef like in China on a crisp coin, a superb aligot (a gooey potato cream) with quinoa souffle, turmeric, cucumber and herbs; and very rich and salty pork lard colonnata with sprouts, smoked fish, black truffles – not to our taste.
When the season sparks with wild ingredients, the chefs forage in the nearby mountains for wild asparagus, oxalis, flowers like violet, but also spring wild garlic and onions. Otherwise, the fragrant herbs are sourced from a local producer, the Auda family.

Gaël et Mickaël Tourteaux propose multi-course menus from €60 at lunch. The shorter Spice Road discovery menu encouraged the next visit extending to “Plaisir”, now titled “Exploration Toutes Latitudes”.
Rice crisps topped with smoked mackerel, citruses and herbs. Bordier butter served with freshly cut cresson shoots, chopped dried black olives and flowers next to coriander spiced crisp bread. Later, the local Jean Marc Bordonnat bakery provides the bread basket offered to your ceaseless indulgence. A ginger and coriander bread bun, olive or just plain or brown slice.
Half-cooked Scottish salmon with Combawa and Granny Smith apple salsa, Haloumi and Kiwano
Next usually come two fish courses from Carras, one of the last fishing ports in Nice. Tony a Christiane Djian are the restaurant’s main suppliers. A marinated Swordfish on Carnaroli risotto with shaved Bellet (local hills) vegetables was a zesty starter. The mains can include a Mediterranean Drum fish, Champonzu and gyoza ravioli, in Christophine and Colombo bouillon. Something like a Yellowtail and Shrimps with summer vegetables (courgette, green zebra tomatoes skin, young potatoes) in a iodine bouillon, Indian Vadouvan spice sauce, and fresh almonds with girolles or Tandoori Monkfish with Black Rice cream and Grilled Clementines. Usually superb, clean, focused and not overtly saucy.
An optional meat plate can include Provençal Suckling Lamb or Beef from Piedmont, the nearby Italian region. The lamb is prepared to tenderness, but my husband’s recent tiny cut of beef with aubergine, tamarind and wild pepper was just too seasoned for his purist preference to meat. Indian flavours took over the Flaveur menu, even Garam Masala joined the eastern seasonings.
Sweets with tea at Flaveur
The sweet temptation at Flaveur is preset in the dinner menu. This summer, a Black nougat with halva, fresh dates and fruit kefir (the fermentation trend has landed in Côte d’Azur) and a contemporary take on the local pompe à l’huile d’olive. The later pastry, scented with orange flower water, is one of the 13 Provençal Christmas desserts. Previously, the Grand Cru chocolate with Tellicherry black pepper from Kerala, India hit my cocoa-craving tooth precisely. These large peppercorns are characteristic for their rich, aromatic citrus and floral notes. Later, the petits fours served with coffee or tea pluck remaining sugar longings. An Indian spice mix with tobacco (contains nicotine) known as Pan Massala inspired the sweet morsels recently, but Menton lemon and crepes Suzette whiff in local taste.
Coffee and tea selection are above the mediocre standards for French, leave alone Michelin star restaurants. Exclusive coffee pickings from the Jamaican Blue Mountain and superb Chinese teas alongside herbal and fruity infusions satisfy any clear head preferring drinkers. Organic iced tea from Menton, and juicy mixes add summer freshness to the non-alcoholic beverage menu.
Chocolate dessert at Flaveur in Nice

The all-French wine list encompasses all important regions in the country. For lunch, a glass of balanced and floral Southern French white from Domaine Joncquières – “C et C de Béarn Lansade” IGP Pays de l’ Hérault 2013 accompanied the light menu perfectly. La Truffière Vermentino (Rolle) was a bright spark to the dinner tasting recently. With a wide changing offer by the glass (about 20 including sweet and digestif wines, most around €10) it is tempting to sip along with the sommelier’s mood. The evening will be long, since the food arrives in a very slow pace. With as much as half an hour between each course to spare, you either need an extremely eloquent company or at least a bottle to share. The waiters are very nice, but certainly geared in the Côte d’Azur speed mode, so be patient, mindful of the gastronomic experience.
 Lunch: Tue-Fri: 12noon-2pm
Dinner: Tue-Sat: 7:30pm-10pm; Summer closing each August (call for annually changing dates)
 25 Rue Gubernatis, 06000 Nice, France
 + 33 4 93 62 53 95

Nice: mirage of paradise on the Mediterranean

While the wings of your plane brush through the coastal winds, a shiver or a complete muscle looseness from the mesmerizing sheer of natural beauty might captivate your entire self. Landing at the Nice Côte d’Azur runway that reaches out into the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean with its ochre-hued rocky coast and the snowcapped Alpine peaks in its backgdrop is indeed the “most scenic airport landing in the world”.
The magnetizing mirage of paradise was not lost, at least not along this part of the Mediterranean, but prevails defeating the human whims.
View of the Old Nice
Imagine a Matisse painting – the “clear, crystaline, precise and limpid” light of these Southern French shores, that the arist created during his pre-mortal years at the stately Belle-Époque Hôtel Regina. Now a residence crowning the Cimiez hills, it is near to the tangerine-painted Musée Matisse dedicated to the impressionist maestro. A stately legion of surviving Roman ruins around the museum documents the historic ties of the region with what is today Italy.
One of the founders of this celebrated country, Giuseppe Garibaldi, was born in Nice and scored an enviable cobblestoned central square to his name. The Place Garibaldi today is a host to plenty of cultural events and gatherings including an antique market. I always wonder that it must be ceaselessly interesting to peak out from one of the shutter windows of the pastel-coloured houses bordering all of its four sides.
Musée Matisse in Nice
Since Nice was once a highly popular holiday destination for the European elite, from dukes to English kings and Russian tzars frequenting its sunny shores, it is rich in mesmerizing villas dotting the hills best positioned for the endless sea vistas of the sea. One of them is Baumettes also housing the Musée des Beaux-Arts in a sprawling villa. A Rodin’s scuplture finds an ideal situation in front of a window letting plenty of light caressing its oblique body with a miraculous emphasis on its perfectness. On display here are mainy local artists such as Jules Cheret, but also impressionist gems by Pierre Bonnard and Duffy. Musée Chagall is another treat for your eyes, with a mosaic and vitrages by this Russian born jewish artist that found his artistic muse in Nice, it is a must see cultural treat.
Painting at Musée Chagall in Nice
Contemporary art found its imposing and highly frequented shelter inside the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, known also simply as MAMAC. Designed by the French architects Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal, who planted the seeds of the modern Nice’s urbanism into the exotic utopia of the Belle Epoque of the old town (Vieux Nice) and the Promenade des Anglais that embroiders the beches all the way up to the airport. Inside the museum’s natural light–filled premises, one can ponder over the French New Realism as a replica of the American Pop Art by Yves Klein, Cesar, Arman, Niki de Saint Phalle, Christo, Dufrêne and others that redifined the modern French art scene. The works shown are provocative, but not ridiculous. Hike up to the open roof to be rewarded with the views of the Italianate architecture penetrating the heart of Nice [see top image above].
modern art at MAMAC in Nice
The pastel facades of the Vieux Nice gleam from its maze of tightly knotted streets, that wind like a bundle of fishing nets haphazardly wrapped around the Western foothill of Colline du Château.
From its peak the best views of the entire Baie des Anges (The Bay of the Angels) can be savored all year around.
View of the Bay of the Angles in Nice
The bay is laced with a flexing string of Promenade des Anglais, build in 1820 on demands of English travellers to the South of France. In the 19th century tourism in Nice started blooming like the impressive pellet growing into a paper napkin at some Asian restaurants. Many of the European and Russian royal families and high class travellers brought along the aristocratic charm still adorns the city’s hills and most of the sea-bordering promenade.
The kiss sculpture by Rodin
The most comfortable luxurious hotel in Nice is Palais de la Méditeraée. Managed by the international Hyatt group, it is also situated on the Promenade. Its spacious modern rooms offer confort unparalled on the riviera if value for money is considered. The best views are from the higher floors, while the 12 seaside suites offer a real pasture for the eyes – long, Miami-like beach, a treskling blue sea dotted with fishermen boats, cruising  yachts, and the landing planes like giant brids descending on the horizon – entertain for hours. For more excitement rooll the dices at the historic Casino Ruhl at the nearby Le Meridien hotel.
The city’s finest restaurant, the two-Michelin stared Chantecler inside the centenarian Belle Epoque Negresco hotel, whose green dome and opulent architecture are impossible to miss on your stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. The rooms are a bit worn out, some rooms shock with sparkling blue bathtubs, and the flamboyant halls are more like a museum than a tastefully decorated hotel. The eclectic art collection and perhaps the kitchiest dining room in France inside the hotel’s more casual La Rotonde, are worth peaking in. The classiest room in the building is the wooden Bar Le Relais, where on weekends a live jazz band makes your cocktails swing.
Hotel Le Negresco facade
Nice has also plenty of more economic while charming places to stay like the authentic four-star Hôtel Ellington. A typical Niçoise townhouse tucked inside the town, but a few minutes walk to the bustling beaches, offers an alternative to the much more touristy zones of the town.
For the most striking sunset vista take a taxi, cross the Old Port, and get off at La Réserve de Nice. Here, allow to be seduced for an aperitif of a local white or rosè wine, while observing the two tips of by-sea-washed horn – the Cap d’Antibes in the Cannes direction, and the ultra-luxurious Cap Ferrat towards Monaco – enclosing the stunning wide bay.
Sunset overviewing the bay of Nice
As the sun tiptoes to its its bed you face a choice either to return to your hotel, have a light halthy snack and wake up rejuvenated the next morning or, if the owl in you rises for the night’s outing and your rambling belly announces the innate desire to eat and indulge, there is plenty to choose from.

Maison Auer: family confiserie preserving traditional French sweets in Nice

Whether you crave something sweet, need an authentic souvenir or want treat your loved ones, browse into the Maison Auer’s acclaimed fairy land evoking confectionery boutique in the Vieux (Old) Nice. Established in 1820 right across the voluptuous Nice opera, the confiserie is not a casual affair but rather a fine escapade for chocolate and in the traditional French sweets indulging connoisseurs.
Maison Aurer in NiceMaison Auer Nice

You can trust their know-how backed by five generations of experience in confectionery, chocolates, dragés, caramels as well local specialties such as the renown candied fruits (fruits confits), maroons glacés (candied chestnuts glazed in sugar), the almond paste based calissons, fruit preserves, and even olives bathing in syrup, that are ideal accompaniment to the local goat’s cheese. The products from the Maison Auer convey delicious stories of Mediterranean bounty.
The pastry and chocolate boutique is now in the hands of the fifth generation Auer family, that has been for almost 200 years cheering up the sweet palates of its highly demanding customers. Nice had been for decades the holiday retreat of choice for the European high society including a royal following. These picky palates were seeking the most refined pleasures, which Maison Auer duly provided.
The candy and chocolate shop’s historic interior is adorned with crystal chandeliers, colourful art nouveau vitrages and floral-shaped wall lamps. The lavish round arches, gilded curvy decorations, and plentiful wall mirrors – from renaissance, through neo-classicism to art nouveau reflect the region’s Italian heritage. The shop was inspired by the Florentine decorative style. Established around the same period as the Palazzo Borghese in Florence the interior evokes the lavish banquets once staged at that noble Italian palace.
Clementines Confits
One of the signature Provençal treats, the fruits confits, are best sampled in confiseries that have been making them for generations. Their knowhow shows in refined flavours and textures. Maison Auer’s signature candied clementines (type of tangerines) are made according to a traditional recipe. You don’t need to travel to the remote Apt in Luberon, where these sweets are abundant, since Auer crafts these treats to a shiny perfection. Their surface glistens like polished glass pearls.
Maison Auer chocolates
The sugar dusted ideas of the house also include chocolates and in cocoa enrobed nuts or fruits. At the back room under a glass vitrine are displayed various flavours of favourite ganaches and pralines like cappuccino, vanilla, roasted hazelnuts from nearby Piedmont and other by time proven recipes. Chocolate bars as well as a sugar-free, with maltiol sweetened chocolate bar for diabetics, are more simple yet well made. If you buy a box of chocolates, then you get them nicely wrapped as if you were a royalty. Enveloped in a Bordeaux robe with golden print to underscore the traditional recipes used in making them.
Maison Auer Nice
The building is situated next to the highly frequented Marchè Saleya, the open-air old market, where the best chefs in the region source their ingredients. Unlike the more commercial Confiserie Florian, located in the Nice’s old port, Maison Auer is a pure Niçoise breed, although its founder Henri Auer was a Swiss immigrant, his appreciation for the local produce kept his family business loyal to the area.
Read more about travel tips in Nice in my travel journal.
 7 rue Saint-François de Paule
 +33 4 93 857 798
 Tue – Sat: 9am – 6pm

Ma Yucca: casual Franco-Japanese canteen in Nice

Ma Yucca is simple, but quality-driven, both in its decoration as well as on its menu. Although the tiny restaurant is owned by two Japanese sisters – Mayu and Yuka, the local French influence came from Yuka’s culinary experience with two-Michelin star chefs in France prior to opening her own place in Nice. Mayu advises diners on the menu as she is in charge of waiting the tables.
Japanese cards at Ma Yucca
Meat features at Ma Yucca more than a usual western sushi fan would expect at a place run by Japanese. But, as in every country, Japan has diverse regional cuisines and meat forms the culinary base in some of them. Just think about the premium grade Kobe beef or pork gyoza.
A very casual lunch offers another level of experience than a more relaxed dinner setting. The lunchtime is highly popular between the local Japanese community, so Ma Yucca’s tiny premisses make you feel as if you were somewhere in Tokyo. The lunch menu changes weekly and is updated on the restaurant’s website.
Ma Yucca
Some starters, such as Ma Yucca Salad consisting of mesclun, sprouted soybeans, string beans and seaweed in sesame sauce, also feature on the regular dinner menu. It is a healthy and refreshing starter that keeps enough space for a meaty main course.
One week you can find a Pan-fried porc gyoza with chinese cabbage, the other a Salmon tataki or anything that the chef prepares from locally available ingredients.
Mains are usually three different plates. I went for a superb “Sushi demi-cuit” – partially seared sushi of salmon, topped with raw red eggs of lump and spring onion. Served with pickled ginger and soy sauce in which you dip the perfectly made sticky rice buns with fish. A small bowl of miso soup came with it on one wooden tray. The ‘Japanoholic’ in me was content.
Seared salmon sushi
The meat-craving usually have a wider choice. The other two mains when I dined there were a Fried flank steak in a bbq sauce in Japanese style served with a bowl of white rice or Salad with minced pork meat.
The menu of a starter, main dish and a dessert comes at €23 and a main course with a starter or dessert is 18 €. Being in a sweet mode and wanting to try all three desserts (Assortment of desserts), so I paid €25 for a perfect re-energising lunch.
Cheesecake with yuzu and oreo cookies, Crème Brûlée with matcha powder, and Cantaloup melon soup with vanilla ice cream were a delightful modern Japanese take on Western desserts by adding typically Japanese ingredients such as green tea or citrusy yuzu making the lighter.
Assortment of desserts at Ma Yucca in Nice
The dinner four-course menu selected from the à la carte is also well-priced. At €30 per person it gets you an amouse-bouche, your choice of starter, main course with a bowl of rice and a dessert.
The wines are all under €50 (25 on average) for a bottle and all French. They are well-chosen for value and span all the main wine producing regions of France. Sake and schochu (a strong distillate from potatoes flavoured with various fruits that are marinated in it), Japanese beer Asahi and Kirin, are also available. The only disappointment is the limited choice of Japanese teas – only sencha and genmaicha. From a country that invented a tea ceremony, I would expect more.
Address: 26 Rue de la Buffa, 06000 Nice, France
Contact: +33 (0) 493 88 39 84
Opening hours: Closed on Tues & Sun. The other days open for lunch from 12noon-2pm & dinner from 7pm-10pm

La Petite Maison: Italian 'sweet life in Nice

Oh! La Petite Maison, … that succulent burrata, moist Mediterranean branzino, ‘lip-litious’ house pasta and like-from-your-Italian-granny-made tiramisu seducing your taste-buds together with the handsome waiters cruising around with abundant plates …  The homey spirit penetrates everything. When the dolce is served on your birthday or anniversary, the always-present, hardworking owner – Nicole, generously spoils you with an entire tray of the sinfully indulgent mascarpone and coffee-based tiramisu, so taming your sugarwore instinct might be impossible.
Tiramisu at La Petite Maison in Nice
As it happened to me recently. The tiramisu at Nicole’s niçoise little Italy is my personal cultish treat, and believe it or not, my slender body allows me to spoon out this delicacy after every dinner at La Petite Maison in Nice.

Despite the restaurant’s expansion to Paris, London, Dubai and even Beyruth, at least by its name, the original establishment remains scrupulously authentic and generous to its loyal customers. Adding more worrisome wrinkles to the face of the motherly protective Nicole, this summer another younger step-sister of La Petite Maison was born on the very same street. Unfortunately, she owns only a small percentage of the restaurant, so decisions can be made without her.
Typical Riviera-style building of La Petite Maison in Nice
La Petite Maison in Nice has become over the years a dining institution for not just local politicians, celebrities and fun-seeking visitors, but its vibrant atmosphere with live music on weekends draws the buzzing ambiance and food-loving crowds from the entire Riviera into its amicable team’s affectionate embrace. Whether people-watching from the refreshing terrace shaded from the street only by a line-up of olive trees or cozying up inside, the spectacle in front of you rolls out a non-mundane carpet with Arabic princesses, film starlets, Riviera socialites and good-looking global jet-setters promenading themselves between the luscious tables.
Live music stirs up the atmosphere at La Petite Maison
After a fresh start of crisp warm baguette served in a paper pouch as if it just came from your local boulangerie, the best order is a plate of starters à La Petite MaisonLe petits Farcis, ultra-creamy burrata, onion and anchovy clad pissaladiere (kind of Southern French pizza) and fried courgette flowers when in season are all fun to taste in their full force particularly here, since cheating is not part of ‘the game of plates’ served at La Petite Maison. These typically Southern-French staples will set your appetite for a feast that is about to come.
Lobster pasta at La Petite Maison in Nice
With wine poured generously, luxuriating with prevailingly French and Italian selections, the jolly diners can dive their forks into fresh Mediterranean staples like fish, seafood, succulent tomato sauces, home-made basil pesto poured over a plate of pasta, but also some meaty chunks from the nearby pastures. The lobster served with homemade pasta is one of the popular signature dishes as is the seabass served with roasted seasonal vegetables such as artichoke and/or mushrooms.
Truffle risotto
Your smiling waiter may surprise you with a plate of risotto generously sprinkled with truffles, just as an apology for waiting too long for the second (or third) bottle of wine. This is what I call ‘customer comes first’ approach! The waiters dance briskly between the table trying to satisfy your ever whim, just ask them to dance on your table and they will be happy to jump up and get the party going. That everything goes smoothly without fights is ensured by the presence of the restaurant’s tough owner Nicole Rubi, who has became legendary for her warrior attitude. She is not afraid to show any villain her fist and get him/her out of there! La Petite Maison is to me like a local theatre of society with life music, characters and plot set around great food.

Address: 11 Carriera San-Francès-de-Paula
Contact: +(33) 4 93 92 59 59
Opening: Daily for lunch and dinner except Sunday.

Bistrot d’Antoine: the most lauded of all bistros in Nice

Owner-run camaraderie thrives at Bistrot d’Antoine. The cosy and casual bistro with an exposed street terrace in Vieux Nice, the Old Town, has remained the most popular casual dining spot in Nice for over a decade. Its vibrant, soulful buzz is accented by the typical bistrot tight tables arrangement accross the two floors of the always full eatery.
Bistrot d'Antoine Bistrot d'Antoine
Antoine’s dishes are modern delicious twists on local Niçoise delicacies, all presented in wide-ranging Mediterranean alliances. Spanish chorizo meets French mustard and roquette, Italian garlic marries Niçoise salad, all perhaps yet undiscovered culinary notes. The Squids and Chorizo starter with a tangerine dressing nuances a sweet citrusy lightness in the fatty sausage making it possible for the delicate nature of the squid to come out on the palate.
Squids and chorizo starter at Bistrot d'Antoine
The market-driven blackboard menu offers a daily selection of the classic French and Provençal staples in a crafty melange of the kitchen staff at Bistrot d’Antoine. Top quality produce obtained mainly from the nearby market Cours Saleya, farmers and local fishermen, is used to prepare mouth-watering Mediterranean dishes. All presented on simple white bone plates that highlight the meal like a painting centered in a pure canvas.
Bistrot d'Antoine
Daily, there are special dishes offered on the top of the regular menu, so it is worth inquiring about them. We tried a White fish tartare in beetroot sauce topped with roquette and a crisp toast, that was superb mainly because of the freshness of the chopped raw fish.
Bistrot d’Antoine’s take on the Niçoise salad ups the game for this local staple. Despite being more known abroad, Niçoise salad is not the most typical local dish, yet it was the most easy adaptable for export. Lightly searing the tuna meat, adding crisp radishes and other seasonal vegetables such as green peas, a clove of grilled garlic, this adaptation is a gourmet plate rather than a regular salad. At his pther restaurant, the Comptoir du Marché the Niçoise salad is further luxuriated with lobster.
Nicois salad new styleSardines
One of the house specialities is for some repellent, for others adorable – the Boudin Noir [a black sausage] Risotto. Based on a black pudding, made from pig’s blood, skin, seasonings like herbs and spices, and firmed (as a binder) either gently with onion or more substantially with bread crumbles in France, oatmeal in Britain and elsewhere in Europe with different cereals such as barley in the Czech Republic [jelito] or rice in Spain [morcilla]. The creamy risotto softens the intensity of the black sausage, served in two small slices on the top, exquisite, but one needs a sip of a generous red wine helps digesting the fatty rice plate through its acidity.
Black sausage risotto at Bistrot d'Antoine
You can be more adventurous with the traditional Veal kidneys or just stick to a juicy Rib steak grilled and served with its rich reduction and roasted fingerling ratte potatoes with grilled moist vegetables. If you see the rattes on the menu in France, order them for their distinct nutty taste and smooth texture that holds well together after cooking.
Rib steak on the grill at Bistrot d'Antoine in Nice
As the owner Armand Crespo walks from a table to table greeting and helping serve the guests, everyone feels welcomed like a part of a big hungry family. The wine list does not break the bank and while represents the diversity of the French terroir it includes many local picks, such as ‘Vins de Bellet‘, the only Niçoise AOC stretching up to the hills behind the city. Le Clos by Clos St-Vincent or wines from Domaine de La Source stand out as great, yet good value picks. The wine is served at the start of your meal together with free locally distinctive tiny olives, a tin of homemade tuna spread and irresistible crisp and fresh white bread, like a teaser whetting your appetite for a memorable meal that is to come soon to you from the kitchen.
Reservation in advance is highly recommended since Bistrot d’Antoine is always full. If there is no table available, their newer establishment a couple of blocks away its sister restaurant – the Comptoir du Marché, that has also great food and is more spacious. There, bite into a small yet an ultra thick crust pizza piled high with juicy tomatoes, ham, arugula and mozzarella.
Armand Crespo, indeed makes his mark on the local Niçoise dining scene with these two superb bistros. Treating you to another complimentary sweet snack – a box of butter cookies – at the end of your meal with coffee or tea, he secures your return, and I am sure I will be back soon.

Bistrot d’Antoine
27 rue de la Préfecture, Vieux Nice
 + 33 4 93 85 29 57
 Lunch & dinner Tue-Sat
Comptoir du Marché
8 Rue du Marché, Vieux Nice
 +33 4 93 134 501
 Lunch & dinner Tue-Sat

Xocoalt: the art of modern luxurious chocolate making in Nice
At Xocoalt in Nice high quality chocolates are handmade by Fabrice Zuppo and his minuscule team with the passion seen only at the world’s premium chocolate league. Top French chocolatiers like Jean Paul Hevin, Henri Le Roux, Michel Cluizel, Francois Pralus or Nicolas Berger who makes chocolate for Alain Ducasse, can genuinely shake hands with Zuppo’s chef-d’oeuvre. His creativity around Easter, Christmas and other festivities can compete with the brilliant chocolate art of Patrick Roger, but Zuppo also stirs a pinch of wit into his chocolate babies.
Easter eggs by Xocoaltl
Xocoalt, the name of this Nice-based chocolaterie comes from the bitter, cocoa-based, spicy drink of the Central American natives – the Aztecs. This superfood drink was believed to give its consumers strength with an aphrodisiac prowess. Often it is said that the word came from Nahuatl xocolātl or chocolātl, derived from xococ “bitter” and ātl “water” (x can be changed to ch).
Xocoalt: Peanut with salted caramel butterchocolate praline
Sold at a charming contemporary boutique with an Aztec inspiration at Rue Alberti, not far from the impressive, Michelin-awarded gastronomic restaurant Flaveur, it is an ideal after lunch stop for a sweet treat. Who would resist a morsel of dark chocolate coated Peanut with salted caramel butter?
The creatively sublime ganaches like Noël à Amsterdam that is filled with a warming spicy cinnamon and infused with candied oranges, fine pralines like Lauze Violette with violet essence, exotic Syracuse in which hazelnut chocolate meets pistachios, and Provence-inspired chocolate pralines like the Tendresse with liquid lavender honey infused with thyme, are all sublime. Tendresse is the favourite of the French culinary god Alain Ducasse, already a customer as he claims in his guidebook to Monaco and the Côte d’Azur.
A warning! The chocolate spread made with dense hazelnut, cocoa bean and butter, caramelised sugar and whole milk powder is highly addictive. You can taste it at the shop so it is worth browsing in. Inside, you may meet either Fabrice or his sister Sandra behind, who will gladly give you a taste of some of their sweet treasures.
Chocolate spread "A la ancienne"
Macaroons, turkish delight, marshmallows [‘guimauve’ in French], sorbets, ice creams including a super-dark Venezuelan chocolate treat, complement the sweet rainbow of flavours at Xocoalt. The chocolate macaroon is serious, made with a ganache from Grand Cru Madagascar 64% cacao. Most products are warmly spiced up with Madagascar vanilla, adding depth and roundness to the taste.
Xocoalt: Fabrice Zuppo and his team
10 Rue Alberti, Nice
 +33 4 93 91 29 54
 Mon-Sat: 10am-7pm

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