Living la dolce vita

Why foodies are smitten with Ristorante Paparazzi

paparazzi-4Socialites beware. Paying a visit to Ristorante Paparazzi will not result in a fusillade of camera flashes, or even so much as a mention on Page Six. The superstars here are entirely comprised of the eatery’s amiable servers and innovative chefs who are blessed with culinary alchemy – the rare and celebrated art of turning base ingredients into gold.

In just three years, from its prime waterfront location, Ristorante Paparazzi has muscled its way ahead of the competition and forged an oregano-scented path all the way onto some of the globe’s most esteemed food pages. It’s also garnered more accolades than you can shake a breadstick at – third best restaurant in English Harbour and best wood oven pizza in the Caribbean being just two. Judging by the number of ‘fantastico’ reviews on Trip Advisor, it would appear it’s pretty popular with Italians themselves – proof indeed that its claim to ‘home-style cuisine of the old country’ is as genuine as its gorgonzola.

paparazzi-3The extensive menu – coupled with a wine list painstakingly chosen to complement every dish – features an abundance of both traditional plates and inspired creations, such as the grilled octopus salad in green herbs sauce with fennel and arugula, and Angus tenderloin with rosemary potato, asparagus and beef reduction. Oozing with ambience and bustling with hungry punters on a Wednesday night, the family-like atmosphere enveloped us from the moment we set foot inside. This was further enhanced by a warm welcome from owners Christina and Diego Taibi.

From our table just steps away from the ocean and with views over adjacent Nelson’s Dockyard, we revelled in the wonderfully authentic décor and tucked into the complimentary fresh bread and mouth-watering tapenade with glee. A recent addition to the menu is the ‘raw bar’. While this does nothing to assist the already agonising decision of choosing a meal from the myriad standard options, it’s relished by aficionados of such delights as fresh oysters. I opted for beets carpaccio with goat’s cheese infused with pistachios, and sprinkled with ‘drunken grapes’ which set the tastebuds off into spasms of delirious joy. My companion chose mahi mahi ceviche with fresh cilantro which she declared divine.

After much deliberation I next plumped for homemade ravioli stuffed with pear and ricotta, in a delicious butter and sage sauce, the fruit proffering an unexpected smattering of sweetness among the flavourful medley. Pure magic indeed. I am ashamed to admit the sauce was so enticing it positively begged to be wiped clean from the bowl. My companion’s spaghetti with butter, white wine, truffle oil, parmigiano and lobster was a vision of succulence, cheerfully polished off with impressive pie-eating-contest speed.

paparazzi-5Never one to be deterred by the fact I am in fact already full (what’s a little belt loosening between friends?), I chose tiramisu from the restaurant’s selection of delectable-sounding desserts while my companion picked vanilla gelato smothered in espresso coffee. Just in case the caloric intake wasn’t enough, we topped it off with scrumptious Irish coffees complete with brown sugar and cream.

And that, in a nutshell, is how we came to find ourselves emerging giggling from the restaurant at 11pm, bursting at the seams and giddy with sugar and whisky (although I prefer to blame the grapes). Thankfully the paparazzi were nowhere to be seen.

by Gemma Handy