Pizza-free Italian food in the heart of Grenoble

Panzerotti, a speciality of Ciao a Te, look a bit like this. photo by <a href=My reservation at Ciao a Te was made – upon advice, several weeks before eating there – on the back of numerous personal endorsements so glowing I felt it couldn’t fail to be fantastic. Incredibly – for I am used to having my high expectations brutally crushed – Ciao a Te is the real deal, a genuninely fantastic Grenoble restaurant. Billed as the best Italian dining establishment in town – no mean feat considering the copious number of Italian eateries in Grenoble (but then, do the 100-plus pizzarias really count) – Ciao a Te is an authentic family business serving some must-try specialities. Hailing from Corato, the southeastern Italian town twinned with Grenoble and ville d’origine to most of our Italian inhabitants, Caio a Te‘s patrons offer a pizza-free menu with pasta dishes you probably can’t make yourself – not even with your Jamie Oliver cook book.

Located in the pleasant quartier des antiquaires near Place Notre Dame, Ciao a Te is elegant enough to be romantic but informal enough to take a group of friends; both smart and convivial. Their authentic Italian specialities are worth the trip alone. The parmigiana, layered aubergine slices baked with tomatoes and parmesan, is a melt-in-the-mouth sensation that has to be tried. Furthermore, the panzerotti, fried dough pouches with a choice of fillings, are delicious and much lighter than they sound. The mains are generous and enticing variations on traditional Italian standards and the desserts, while more ordinary, are worth investigation.

If I had to grumble, I would say we were slightly mislead by the waiter who claimed the parmigiana and panzerotto were essentially starter portions that should be followed by a main course. I’m not sure I can remember a time in my life when I ate more. Getting through my portion of meat balls became an act of wilful masochism (“must …. finish …. it …. all ….”) and I’m not joking when I say it was painful. My tip would be to order some of the specialities with a salad or antipasti and see if you have room for dessert. At around ten euros a pop the specialities are lighter on the wallet and, with a salad, easily sufficient for one person. Other than this little trick the service was efficient but discreet, although the waiting staff did decide to disappear just when we wanted to pay. Still, you can’t have everything.

Ciao a Te: 2, Rue de la Paix, 38000 Grenoble. Tel : 04 76 42 54 41. Opening hours: 12:00-13:30; 19:30-21:00.