(2) Degusteria Romani
(3) La Greppia
(4) B Sweet Laboratorio delle Delizie
Quietly elegant Parma not only leaves its visitors saturated with art, architecture and opera – it is also a magnet for devoted foodies. Among Parma’s culinary temptations are some ancient and renowned delicacies such as its cheese & ham (in proper Italian respectively Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma), its salumi (Culatello di Zibello and Salame di Felino), its fried bread (Torta Fritta) and its Tortelli (with spinach and ricotta or with pumpkin).
For anyone who wants to indulge in this food culture like a purebred Parmesan, I can recommend the following (hidden) gems:
We discovered this café when in desperate need of a morning coffee after visiting the Baptistery at sunrise, on an empty stomach. The place is situated in the cobbled heart of Parma, at the back of the Baptistery and adjacent to the Duomo. Great coffee, colourful and tasty Italian pastries, an informal vibe and an incredibly stylish interior: a successful juxtaposition of artfully exposed elements of the historic Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati and a minimalistic design. The view is as wonderful as the interior: through the windows you can see the foot of the pretty pink Baptistery at a few meters distance. This is the kind of café where I could imagine George Clooney sipping his Nespresso while browsing the newspapers and occasionally glancing over them seductively.
This place seemed like an Aladdin’s cave of delicacies. We ordered some wine and gorged on a mixed platter of basically all Parma’s specialties (including Prosciutto, Parmigiano, Culatello and Salame di Felino). It was unlike any prosciutto, salumi and parmigiano we had ever tasted before (I promise I’m not exaggerating). The place had a true Italian charm, with hams hanging from the ceilings and we seemed to be the only tourists in there (among the other visitors were a bunch of merry Italian guys seemingly on a stag do and treating themselves with copious amounts of meat and beer). Very affordable prices, too.
We discovered this place when we suddenly realized after a long and active morning that we were starving and relied on the TripAdvisor app to find a good lunch place nearby. The place is for lovers of fine food and is a bit more expensive. We however opted for the lunch menu which was well-priced and included a starter, a main course and tea or coffee with some little treats (unfortunately, I only made a photo of this final stage). The place had an elegant old-fashioned charm to it and the food was delicious and freshly made (you could see the handmade stuffed pasta drying in the open kitchen). There is no English menu, but the staff will gladly help you decipher the Italian terms. We talked with a local at the table next to us who seemed to know all fine restaurants in Europe and said he lunched in this restaurant regularly because the food is just outstanding. As we consumed our parmesan mousse with pear in red wine, we nodded in agreement.
(4) B Sweet Laboratorio delle Delizie (Website, TripAdvisor)
Entering this place was like entering the chocolate factory and being transformed into a food-deprived Charlie. The place is beautifully decorated, stuffed with cupcakes in the most scrumptious flavours and colours (from Oreo to lemon meringue) as well as other deserts such as brownie and cheesecake. Through a large glass window, you can see the laboratory where all delights are being baked and decorated with heart, soul and utter skill. I have a long-standing predicament with cupcakes: in my view, they often look so much better than they taste. In this case however, the cupcakes tasted even better than they look (if that’s in fact possible). We chose one cupcake with peanut butter and one with chocolate and were in awe at how perfect they tasted: the combination of the cake and the softly flavoured, creamy topping was heavenly. What I particularly liked is that the cupcakes were not overly sweet, as is often the case.
Yes, cities like Parma do have an enchanting quality which can lead to rather lofty comments. But I swear that, except for the short apparition of George in Tcafe, every word I wrote down is truthful.
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