If one were to look at the pictures of what the food looks
like here, without knowing much about the restaurant, one could easily be led
to believe that this is a very serious establishment. And yet, Rino is one of
the more casual and relaxed restaurants in Paris. Giovanni Passerini, the chef
here, has created a cosy little dining room, in which he serves some of the
more interesting Italian-inspired food in the French capital. Being notoriously
poorly endowed with cuisines that are not French, such a concept is a breath of
fresh air in the city of lights.
What characterises it are mainly two things. First of all, Passerini calls his cuisine ‘cucina povera', poor cuisine (or poor man's cuisine). As much of Italian food is based on fairly simple ingredients that are treated in a respectful and natural way, this makes perfect sense. The second characteristic of Passerini's food undoubtedly is the combination of French cooking techniques to the vast heritage that Italy has on offer. The result is, more often than not, fascinating and delicious.
One such example would be a tartare of meagre, a fish that
shares a fair bit in common with the sea bass. This dish associates the raw fish
with sea urchin, ricotta and salmon roe. The product quality being of a
surprisingly high standard, this dish is remarkably fresh, precisely seasoned
and harmonious. It is the kind of plate that you could easily see being served
in a 1 or 2* restaurant, without much of a problem as it simply works. It is a
dish with a lot of tension and vivacity in it that is just the right thing to
wet the palate and set you off for the menu.
An equally delicate touch is applied to the monkfish with beets, Swiss chard and bonito emulsion. The fish is clearly the centrepiece of the dish. It is perfectly cooked, with a texture that gives away the quality of the product and beautiful flavour. The elements that surround it merely add counterpoints to the monkfish. There is the earthy beetroot, the vegetal character of the Swiss chard and finally the richness of the bonito emulsion. Altogether it feels like a dish that is airy and subtle, whilst having considerable amounts of flavour. That is in many ways what makes Passerini's food interesting, the fact that it manages to transport such a lot of flavour in a seemingly light fashion.
Rino is a fun restaurant without doubt. Its food is admirable and interesting, whilst the eperience of eating here is relaxed and convivial. What we haven't mentioned yet is the fair price at which this is all offered: at lunch a menu can cost as little as €25, whilst dinner is no more than €35. In a place such as Paris, this has to be as much bang as you can possibly hope to get for your buck!