(Written March 2018)
Paris has finally begun to warm up, meaning it’s now far easier to drag yourself out into this wonderful city. With the end of my stay here rushing up to meet me and everyone else becoming increasingly aware of their diminishing time in the city of lights, the last couple of months have been spent dreaming of warmer days and formulating lists of things we MUST do before the time slips away. The dread of 4th year dissertations arriving without having ever made the trip to Versailles or finding the perfect year abroad selfie so that even your LinkedIn screams “I did a year abroad in Paris!”.
Considering all this our brand spanking new housemate, Juliette, and I rushed to create the ultimate list of places to wine, to dine and to have a good time.
Top priority on the list was to try panzerotti from the newly opened 'Pancia - Italian Street Food'. Pancia is a relatively new establishment in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, on Rue des Petites Écuries, closest to the Chateau d’Eau metro station and open every day bar Monday.
A panzerotto (singular) is a style of pizza which originated in the Apulia region of southern Italy. It’s essentially a fried pizza pocket, similar to calzoni in their turnover shape but panzerotti are smaller and often deep fried as opposed to oven baked. Juliette had been longing for one since tasting them in Milan and I was more than happy to accompany her to eat something new.
Entering the restaurant, I was taken by the playlist subtly pumping out in the room; a mix of old school hip hop and other eclectic choices from Mac DeMarco to Wu-Tang Clan, Kate Tempest to Mos Def. We were welcomed by Pauline, who is in charge of the front-of-house, and invited to sit on stools at one of the high tables. The place felt retro but with a modern twist and the walls were suitably mirrored in places to make the small room feel larger and more accommodating. The atmosphere was bubbling this Saturday lunchtime, with happy customers at every table; everybody was either excited for what was to be served or satisfied with what they’d just devoured.
The panzerotti themselves were better than I had expected. Served in a rustic ceramic dish, these pouches of deliciousness are cut into halves to reveal a pristine cross-section and laid on a simple bed of olive oil drizzled rocket. As a vegetarian, Juliette had the traditional mozzarella, tomato and basil panzerotto while I had the same but with the addition of pancetta.
These pockets of joy have a crisp, salty outer shell but are light and fluffy as you bite into them and the flavours ooze out. To deal with the saltiness we each had a cup of homemade ice tea which quenched our thirst just enough to get through the first panzerotto but a bigger glassful would’ve been preferable.
Suckers for a meal deal, we both ordered a dessert panzerotto filled with apple and salted caramel, encased in a sweeter dough - this was a dribbly mess I’d recommend to all.
After the meal I got to check out the kitchen downstairs. I was shown around by Pauline and saw their production line, from trays full of proving dough all the way to the deep fryers. These guys seem to be churning out a lot of deliveries (find them on deliveroo, foodora and ubereats) and consistently serving customers in the restaurant, so it was no surprise when I met Vincent, one of the two chefs, to see him working flat-out; sweaty and surely stressed but undoubtedly content with the quality of the food he was producing. As it happens, the team of three were all trained at the prestigious Parisian school, Ferrandi. Their motto seems to ring true in both the food and the restaurant itself : « faire du beau et du bon, à la fois fun et accessible. »
If you fancy a reasonably priced and certainly delicious lunch in the heart of the city, check out Pancia.