Parma

Restaurants in Parma

Parmesans take the pulse of their own city at this hectic institution, where the cheap nibbles are strangely better than the panini you pay a lot more for. If all you know of Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna’s most famous-slash-notorious wine, is disco-era Riunite, Fontana will bring you up to speed.

Say you knew some stylish, young, design-conscious Parmesans. And say they’d just redone an old farmhouse outside the city. Their eat-in kitchen might look like Croce di Malta. The concise menu (supple tortelli, fragile polpettine, silky Bavarian cream) changes daily.

Splurge on dinner at the rustic-chic Michelin-starred restaurant, in the ancient town of Soragna.

Set in the countryside just outside the city, Sapori is more ambitious, refined, and serious (but not too serious) than most trattorias in the Parma area, offering modern dishes so as not to seem old-fashioned (Parmesan gelato melting over a luscious hunk of molten eggplant in a pastry nest), and

This restaurant has closed.

Parma’s best restaurant is inserted in a hotel so plain and weirdly located (on the far side of the ring road that wraps the city) you can’t believe you’ve got the address right. Believe it. Cocchi is supercivilized without even seeming to try.

You could eat breakfast at this historic, aristocratic landmark every day for three months and never have the same pastry twice. Like all Italians, the Parmesans like their cornetti filled with just a scraping of preserves.

No matter how allergic you are to joyless, pompous restaurants, any eating survey of Parma would have to include this one, especially if someone else is paying.

A platter of sbrisolona sits on a counter inside the front door, a good start. The menu gives the age and maker of the prosciutto (28 months, Leporati), and culatello (20 months, Consorzio di Zibello), another excellent sign.

If no one had told you this is one of the three or four finest places to eat in Parma, you might guess it anyway before even lifting a fork.