Rino (pronounced Reeno by Parisians) has been getting rave reviews by food critics, bloggers and the like grading it 4/5 and calling the Chef an Italo-French genius. It’s part of the new wave of bistronomies taking over Paris (alongside Inaki Aizpitarte’s Chateaubriand, Gregory Marchand’s Frenchie and Daniel Rose’s Spring). 

But what is Bistronomy?
Gary Lee Kraut explains that bistronomy is a combination of bistro and gastronomy. After classic training at some of the city’s most prestigious establishments, a number of young chefs have struck out on their own with modest daily market menus made from fresh, hand-chosen produce. Fed up with the Michelin star rat race, they have sparked what some have termed the most influential culinary trend in a decade. These are indeed bistros since the additional elements required of a truly gastronomic restaurant—elegant services, fine tableware, more expensive produce, a section-by-section kitchen staff, a decorator—may be absent.

A number of famous mid-career and older chefs who have made their name in gastronomy now have an adjacent business of bistronomy including Christian Constant and Yves Camdeborde. 
Perhaps that the whole bistronomy idea is a marketing ploy used by the chef/owner who claims that his restaurant is just above the ordinary bistro. In any case, these types of bistros are inviting, relaxed and produce well-thought out meals in an unpretentious setting at an affordable price. 

Rino encompasses this very idea. A pocket-size restaurant in the 11th district, the restaurant welcomes around 20 covers with a few high tables overlooking the kitchen at the front, and a more intimate setting with closely fitted wooden tables in the back with red banquettes. The decor is minimal: white painted walls, a few vases of tulips here and there and ordinary lighting. 

The staff is Italian, the waiters explain the menu in his Italo-French accent to you on a blackboard that changes every day. The prix-fixe menu is fairly straightforward: 4 courses for 38 euros or 6 courses for 55 euros. No consumer choice here, the menu is at the discretion of the Chef. The other waitress asks if you want to start off with an aperitif – Prosecco is what they serve…no Kir here. 

Italo-born Giovanni Passerini runs the kitchen. Self-taught and a late bloomer in the culinary world, he started his career in a Michelin-star French restaurant (in Germany!) before heading back to Paris for a stint at L’Arpège, Chateaubriand and La Gazzetta

The wine menu is presented upon sitting at the table and covers more Italian than French wines price affordably in the 20-30 euro range. Like Chauteabriand, it’s printed on several A4 papers clipped together giving the restaurant a laxed vibe. 

On the menu last night:

Entrée: Head of pork tortellini, crayfish consommé and turnip

Pouring the consommé

I thought the presentation was simple and elegant but lacked color. The consommé was very fine, you could actually taste crayfish and nothing else. I enjoyed the softness and the moistness of the tortellini with head of pork (though the taste was not very strong) mixed with the crunchyness of the turnip. I would have liked a bit more consommé as it was hard to spoon out the remaining drops. But one main concern and coincidentally my Mother’s pet-peeve: if you’re going to serve a hot liquid whether coffee, tea or soup – make sure it’s hot, warm is passable; but this was rather on the cold side. 

I personally didn’t think the meal got off on a good start. 

Poisson: Monkfish, watercress, cabbages and olive tapenade

This dish was more enjoyable with stronger tastes: the saltyness of the tapenade, the sweetness of the cabbages and the quinoa and the freshness and moistness of the monkfish – which I welcome with open arms because the monkfish I usually eat is quite chewy and tough. Again, it could have been served hot. 

I don’t know if it was the light Southern white wine that made the dinner pleasant, but I felt the more I went along the menu, the better it got.

Viande: Milk-fed lamb, chicory endive, monkfish liver and onions

I loved the colors of the different ingredients on the plate: Red, green, orange and pink. The lamb was cooked rosé, just as it should be. I was a bit wary about the monkfish liver but there was only four drops of it on the dish so as not to overpower the sweet lamb. The onions were could have perhaps been cooked but I enjoyed their crunchyness and surprisingly subtle pickled taste. I thought this was the best dish so far.

Dessert: Citrus salad, dried fruits, semifreddo of bergamot. 

The first time I saw an Italian word on the menu. Looking at the menu, I wasn’t too excited about dessert – fruits and frozen mousse? But I immediately took that back once I tasted it. The semifreddo was sour and matched well with the sweetness of the oranges and dried dates, and the crunchyness of caramelized nuts. The waiter saw that I liked it so much, he gave me a second serving – how observant!

I felt the Mediterranean influence of the Chef come through the market-based menu. The flavors were clean, the dishes combined a variety of ingredients. My experience got better and was much better than I expected after I had my first dish. Would I go back again? Sure, it’s a market-based menu, it changes daily…Would I rather go to Chateaubriand or Spring (also serving market-based menus) with a more upbeat environment? Yes.

46 Rue Trousseau, 75011
Metro: Ledru-Rollin (Ligne 8)
Website: http://www.rino-restaurant.com
– Closed Sundays and Mondays


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