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At the impossibly young age of 24, Arnaud Nicolas achieved one of the highest honors in gastronomy – the title Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) – for his talent in charcuterie. Fourteen years later, he opened an ambitious shop and restaurant near the Eiffel Tower with the explicit goal of returning charcuterie to a place of honor on the French table. In the same way that prize-winning artisans have reshaped traditional baguette-making and pâtisserie, Nicolas wants to reintroduce charcuterie to palates that have become used to mediocre industrialized examples. So is it really that different? Yes.
Le Villaret is one of our favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. Sometimes in life we chase after the ones who play hard-to-get and we ignore the nice, stable options who just want to treat us right. Le Villaret is the homely neighborhood bistro that I never appreciated until I stopped looking for love at Le Baratin and Le Repaire de Cartouche.
Food and wine pilgrims, particularly those who read the New York Times or watch Anthony Bourdain, are willing to climb the hill for this Belleville institution. Raquel Carena tends the fire, offering her own personal brand of bistro cooking - sometimes delicate, sometimes hearty, always heartfelt. In stark contrast to the loving kitchen, the dining room is cold as ice, thanks to the joyless leadership of Carena's husband Philippe.