Heidi Ellison, me). An old furrier shop, Vilia is centrally located on a street where I wouldn't mind having a tiny apartment. This is the third - you can look it up - restaurant within a few square meters of the same street that I have now reviewed at this site. The superfantastic La Gazzetta is directly across the street, and the disappointing Miel & Paprika is just next door. And if you aren't satisfied with those options, keep walking, there are plenty more venues in the neighborhood.
Co. & I, as is our habitude, opted for the 3-course menu (36€ per person) in lieu of the cheaper 2-course option (26€). Not much in the way of choices - 3 entrees, 3 plats, and 3 desserts (or cheese). But let me tell you about the wine first before we get to the actual grub. Normally, I don't talk much about the wines at this site because I, gasp, am not an expert. I adhere to the Don Winslow school of oenology, neatly summarized in his book, Savages, as follows:
The wine world is basically divided into red and white. (We ain't gonna go far with this -- wine types are almost as hateful as tweekers.) Every great wine-tasting session should end with arsenic.
And we might add John Niven's observation:
If you have to stop drinking, you're a fucking loser.
Sardinia, where the ground is hard and the people are silent.
Cryptic enough to enhance the flavor of the wine, which was very much like a French bordeaux, but with something special. Full-bodied and somewhat sweeter than the French wines I am used to drinking, this bottle held up well throughout the meal, though I fear it might become a bit overwhelming on multiple occasions. As for the food to wash down, Co. fared better than I did with the entree, thoroughly satisfied with her souffle of oursins (sea urchin), which I sadly did not photograph - but it probably would have been blurry anyway (see below), me less so - having bypassed the mackerel dish for a soup of langoustine, calamar, and clams. Not to say it wasn't good, but I had hoped for something more special. This soup struck me as a pretty typical fish soup, no bells or whistles. Or as Annie Hall might have intoned, 'lah di dah.'
But just a second there. Did I mention, no I didn't, that shortly into our first dishes, Marco wheeled out into the dining room a barrel-sized block of hollowed out cheese, poured a couple pots of that DeCecco rigatoni inside, and mixed in some broken-up parmesan cheese along with, not sure here, olive oil (?). When Co. inquired just what exactly he was up to, he responded by bringing a small bowl of the pasta melange to our table, a somewhat belated, but generously welcomed, mise-en-bouche.
Well, let me tell you, this elegantly simple preparation was, in the jargon of today's youth, awesome, dude. The pasta was al dente - tender but firm - and the cheese al perfecto. I would have happily scrapped the 3-course menu and devoured a couple bowls of this dish. But, alas, that was not to be the case. Nonetheless, I felt pretty good about having chosen the pasta plat - raviolis mozzarella et bufala - three raviolis rectangles bearing small chunks of shrimp. Co. went with the poulpe dish with charlottes and creme.
Once again, the pasta won out, though both dishes, as we swapped to verify, were rated 'tasty' on the tasty scale, perhaps with Co. a tad underwhelmed by her calamar. The dessert choices didn't send shivers up my spine, and given Co.'s predilection for the tartelette with yougurt and strawberries, I took the waitress's advice and went with the creme brulee romarin et citronnelle, after she downgraded to no. 3 the third possibility, a panna cotta. Not much of a creme brullee enthusiast, I did appreciate the sweet concoction that appeared before me. Co. went euphroric over her hands-on, non-imposing to the naked eye tartellette, now bearing chocolate, as a late-night replacement for the yogurt - how does one run out of yogurt?
So, in sum, a satisfying, laid-back night. Italian, yet not totally, which I am sure will keep Vilia as an interesting option, especially when you can't get reservations at La Gazzetta or Caffe dei Chioppi.
26, rue de Cotte
tel. 09 80 44 20 15no website