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May 13, 2013 02:07 PM

Restaurant Recommendations in Parma

My husband and I are travelling to Parma in June, and are looking for recommendations for restaurants in the city center. We'll be there in the middle of the week (Tuesday-Thursday nights), and already have Trattoria Del Tribunale on our list, but would like a few more options. I've found some older posts on the topic, but nothing recent- can anyone recommend a few restaurants in the city center? We are open to any price point, but prefer moderately priced trattorie with food traditional to the region. I've seen good reviews of La Greppia, but nothing recent here, and I've heard that its pricey relative to the quality of the food.

We are already going to Da Amerigo in Savigno earlier in the week thanks to the extensive recommendations on the Italy board. I've heard that La Buca and Da Ivan are also excellent, but we would like some solid dinner options inside of the city of Parma for the nights we are there.

Thank you in advance!

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  1. We had a lovely couple of days in Parma a couple of years ago. One night we started with aperitivo at Gran Caffe Orientale on Piazza Garibaldi. It was a CHARMING café with a wonderful old-world decore. I would highly recommend stopping there for a drink or café if you are ever in central Parma. We then strolled to Orfeo, a pizzeria ristorante on Via Carducci, where we had a great casual dinner.

    Another night we had a great dinner at Ristorante Cocchi (16 Via Gramsci), which is actually adjacent to Hotel Daniel. I am still kicking myself I didn't have the bolito misto!

    Although slightly outside of Parma, I highly recommend Trattoria ai Due Paltani on Via Budellungo in Coloreto

    7 Replies
    1. re: ekc

      Thanks for the recommendations! Is this the website for Orfeo: ? It looks like much more than just pizza! Did you happen to try any of the other dishes?

      I've read good things about Cocchi, but suppose I was turned off by the fact that its in a hotel and assumed it was on the pricier side.

      1. re: LaBuonaForchetta

        Several years ago, my wife and I were on our annual Italian vacation when we were caught on a rainy night in Parma on the Dec. 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception holiday without restaurant reservations. This was a mistake I will not repeat. We searched out some restaurants outside of town in the Slow Food Guide, but got almost a horse laugh when we inquired about a table. They actually had buses in their parking lots. We drifted back to our hotel thinking we were going to have to forgo dinner. I happened to spot Hotel Daniel and remembered a discussion that the restaurant Cocchi was in the Italian Slow Food Guide but not the English version I use. We found a parking place close by and dashed into the restaurant. Of course, they had no table and were most apologetic. As we stood there taking stock of our situation, the owner asked if we had been helped. We explained our situation to which he responded that if we could wait, he would see what he could do. After he had a rather animated conversation with our first host, we were immediately seated in the cocktail lounge. I believe we had their most experienced waiter who spoke perfect English and saw to our every need. We had an outstanding meal. Experiences like this are what make travel in Italy such a delight. Italians are so concerned that you enjoy their country and their excellent food and Ristorante Cocchi is a perfect example.

        1. re: BN1

          What a wonderful experience! Between this and the other rave reviews, I think we'll have to give Cocchi a try. I appreciate everyone's feedback, and will certainly report back after our trip. Thanks all!

        2. re: LaBuonaForchetta

          Yes, that is the website for Orfeo! We had a few appetizers and salads in addition to our pizza. I can't remember (and don't have any notes about) the specific dishes, but they were all good.

          I understand your reservations about Cocchi (I would have thought the same if I had been researching the restaurants), but don't let that deter you - it really was a great meal and worth every penny!

        3. re: ekc

          Cocchi is not particularly expensive, especially in this very prosperous part of the country.

          Look at the same resource on the right hand side and you will see links for La Greppia and some other places with their prices as well.

          Inexpensive places recommended by Gambero Rosso's lowcost guide (and others) are I Tri Siochett 6 km from the centr, and Ombre Rosso, a winebar offering assortments of cheese and cured meats as well as traditional pastas and secondi.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Thank you, Jen! I should clarify that we aren't necessarily looking for inexpensive meals, but meals that are of good value. We have no problem paying a lot for a fantastic meal, but thought that perhaps the quality at Cocchi may not be as high relative to price. Would that be your top pick in Parma?

            1. re: LaBuonaForchetta

              I would not be inclined to overthink the relative expense issue.
              Eating in bourgeois restaurants in Italy, which is what this one is, is not cheap but its not expensive either, given the quality of the ingredients and what may be the effort of preparation (in Emilia, things like hand-making pasta in the restaurant - it is gossamer) or making complex rice dishes like bomba. Its hard to get bad cured meats in this area however, do make sure to include plates of prosciutto, culatello and the other regional meats in your meals - even very informal places will provide good quality.

              I have not been to Cocchi yet - along with Ai Due Platani and I Tri Siochett it is at the top of myhope-to-visit list for traditional dining in the city of Parma or nearby suburbs.

              Wherever you wind up going, hope to hear your report back.

        4. My favorite is Angiol D'Or. The food is traditional to Parma, they have a very nice wine list and the service is excellent. It is slightly less expensive than La Greppia.

          An added bonus is the glassed-in back dining room with a direct view of the Baptistry.

          I agree with an earlier poster about Caffe Orientale. It is a great place to stop for a drink.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cicchettigirl

            there is a recent TA post to the effect that La Greppia's owner and chef have changed

            1. re: jen kalb

              Thank you all for the recommendations! Yes, we will definitely be eating a lot of cured meats, and have a prosciutto tour set up outside of Parma. I will definitely report back on all of our food experiences when we return.

          2. Unfortunately a lot of the trattorie in Parma have become quite bland and uninspiring. If you want to experience good local cooking in an authentic atmosphere I would suggest that you get out of town (but not necessarily too far), although I guess you're asking about places in town because you won't have a car. However, if you do have wheels or your budget stretches to a couple of short taxi rides it's worth heading to Trattoria da Romeo (in Botteghino, 10 mins from Parmal; tel: 0521 641167), Trattoria Milla (Sala Baganza, 15 mins;, or Antichi Sapori (Gaione, 10 mins; 0521648165). Il Granaio (10 mins; 0521 804110) in Lemignano was recommended to me by a local couple but I haven't got round to visiting yet. A bit further out in Fragnolo di Calestano is the fantastic Locanda Mariella (20 mins: 0525 52102). In town, the Tribunale and Sorelle Picchi have both changed hands recently but the food is still very good. Over the river in the Oltretorrente is the Antica Cereria, which has a lovely vaulted dining room and reliable parmigiano cooking. Bring an extra case for the parmigiano-reggiano and culatello...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parmasam

              The fantastic Locanda Mariella is indeed worth the trip. In our many times there, nothing comes close on the west side of the autostrada.

              However, it is not 20 minutes from the center of Parma, but more like 45 minutes.

            2. Is there any recent experience to report on Ristorante Cocchi? TripAdvisor shows lots of highly negative reports in Italian from this past Spring, preceded by one from February that refers to "management in transition from the old guard to the new" and the absence of "la Regina di Fornelli" from the kitchen.

              If Cocchi is no longer a good bet, and La Greppia also has recently changed hands as reported on TA, suggestions for a good dinner in the Centro (walking distance from the Teatro Regio) would be much appreciated.

              About all we can come up with from CH is Angiol d'Or, which recently has gotten either mixed or lukewarm reviews (and which also is said on TA to have changed management earlier this year). Can we do better?

              1 Reply
              1. re: chowtraveler

                Hi- I finally posted my trip report from Parma, which includes my thoughts on Cocchi. Your post reminded me that I still needed to report back, so thanks!

                We didn't go to La Greppia, but were choosing between that and Cocchi. We also walked by Angiol d'Or and thought it looked pleasant, but didn't go.

              2. Thank you all for your thoughts and recommendations for Parma! We thought the city itself was very charming and loved the early evening aperativo tradition. The food offered at aperativo wasn't stellar, but the atmosphere was lively and it was a fun experience.

                One item that should not be missed is the gelato at Ciacco, a relatively new gelateria that we stumbled on while parking our car. It may be the best gelato we've ever had. The flavors are relatively unusual- our favorites were a Pakistani- spiced cream-based gelato with mango, and a Spanish-inspired cinnamon gelato with candied orange. It was so good we ordered seconds. The owner is truly passionate about his gelato, and was eager to talk to us about it.

                For dinner in Parma, we went to Cocchi and Trattoria Tribunale. Trattoria Tribunale was okay- not outstanding, but a good value. We shared a Degustazione di Salumi and Torta Fritta to start. The prosciutto was very good, but I don't really think that good salumi makes a good restaurant- especially in Parma, where its possible to get great salumi at any one of the salumerie in town. For primi, we split Tagliatelle al Ragu and Tortelli di Zucca. Both were good, but not remarkable- we had much better pastas in the countryside near Bologna. For secondi, my husband had Guanciale Vitello con Cipolline in Agrodolce and I had Vecchia di Cavallo (horse). I was really excited about the horse, as I have had it a few other times in Verona, but I was terribly disappointed. The dish tasted overwhelmingly of green peppers, which I can't stand, and I thought it was practically inedible. I'll admit, it was probably an issue of personal taste. But, I was so disappointed that I ordered a second entree, Filetto di Manzo al Barolo, which was just okay... the sauce tasted too winey, like it wasn't reduced properly. My husband's guanciale was the best of the three. The prices were extremely reasonable, however, and while we weren't wowed by anything, I'd consider giving it another shot.

                Cocchi, on the other hand, was very disappointing. It had gotten great reviews here, so we had high expectations. Although we'd made reservations in Italian, when we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted in English and given English menus- which we find annoying since we speak Italian. For primi, I ordered a pasta with duck and my husband ordered a tortellini with herbs. The tortellini was very bland... to be fair, I thought it sounded bland when we ordered it, but it was HIGHLY recommended by the waiter... so we went with it. My pasta, on the other hand, was not bland... but had a very strange flavor I didn't care for at all. I thought that it tasted like Lipton chicken noodle soup mix. Fine if you have the flu, but not as a sauce on a pasta. We also shared stuffed fried squash blossoms stuffed with mozzarella that were also very bland. I am a firm believer that anything fried is pretty good, and they proved me wrong here. For secondi, we ordered a stuffed veal roulade (decent), and a "crispy" duck dish that wasn't actually crispy. The restaurant was on the pricey side for Parma, and I didn't enjoy the food at all.

                We did have a good lunch at Sorelle Picchi. After our first two disappointing dinner experiences, we had very low expectations for food in Parma, and just wanted a pleasant lunch spot outside to sit and write postcards. Our lunch was good- we shared a vertical Parmesan tasting with cheeses of various ages and a guanciale braised in red wine with fresh mint. The guanciale was the best dish we had in Parma.

                We also took an excellent morning dairy tour in nearby Reggio Emilia. I'd say its a must for any foodie travelling to the area. The tour is free, and the guide walks guests through the entire cheese-making process, followed by a Parmesan tasting. The cheese was outstanding, and the tour was interesting and educational. We also took a tour of a prosciutto factory in Langhirano (which was in Italian), and was also very cool and worthwhile.

                Again, thanks for all of your thoughts and recommendations!

                11 Replies
                1. re: LaBuonaForchetta

                  so glad you posted back though very sorry your eating experiences at recommended places were not so hot.The secondi tend to be a weak point in many areas, I find we tend to get antipasti and contorni instead, which limits this factor.

                  While you can get good salumi in the stores,and certainly a demanding clilentele all around town, I think that the good restaurants are very selective in their sources, and there is no substitute for eating the meats freshly sliced onto your plate (not the same from a deli package or cut by hand by us). In recent years we have really learned to enjoy this aspect of dining in regions with fine meat products.

                  Look forward to reading more!

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Also can anyone recommend a few good wine bars in Parma center? We are eating lunch at La Buca in Zibello and figure we might just want to graze for dinner. Someone suggested Tabarro, but any other recs would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

                    1. re: zgold10

                      This is the first year in 36 years we have not gone to La Buca. Many years we go twice or more, but couldn't seem to make it work. Our loss.

                      Just my opinion, but for a first time visitor I'd order: the plate of culatello and spalla; the tagliatelle with culatello... Miriam's signature dish (which everyone in the world has now copied); mariola and prete.

                      Have fun.

                      1. re: allende

                        Thanks, allende. We are actually stopping at La Buca on our drive from La Morra to Parma. I've already booked our meals in Piemonte (La Torre, Veglio, Da Bardon) using your guidance. Call it the allende circuit. Thanks again for the insight, you are a truly invaluable resource.

                        1. re: zgold10

                          We'll be at La Torre again next week. When will you be there?

                          Glad to be of help. Torre, Veglio, Bardon and Miriam's La Buca are just lovely trattorie. In each case, wonderful owners. good trattoria food, excellent ingredients, and good to excellent (Bardon!!!) wine lists. Couldn't ask for anything more.

                          Again, have fun and if you would, please report back so that those who use the site can get another point of view. Thanks.

                          1. re: allende

                            We won;t be in Piemonte until the end of September, sorry to have missed you. Thank you again for the fantastic recommendations, we are more than excited. I will be sure to report back.

                      2. re: zgold10

                        Hi Z. For me Enoteca Fontana is a better bet than Tabarro. It's about 50 yards farther down Via Farini. The back room has a nice vibe and the plates of ham and nibbles are very good. The best spot for aperitivi is the Oltretorrente area on the west side of the river. There are some great wine bars off or near Via D'Azeglio such as Bar Kiko (Via D'Azeglio, specialises in organic wines), Osteria Oltrevino (Borgo Pietro Cocconi), Labo (Strada Inzani) and Le Minimum (Piazza Picelli). Also nearby is a decent birreria (artisanal beers are big in Parma) called Le Vecchie Maniere (Borgo Bernabei). You'll get decent stuzzichini at all of them.

                        1. re: Parmasam


                          Thanks very much for all the great wine bar recs. Just one follow up: Do you still enjoy Tribunale and Forchetta (is Forchetta more seafood focused?) in the center, or do you think it is worth taking the short cab ride outside the city to a place like Ai Due Platani?

                          1. re: zgold10

                            La Forchetta changed hands about a year ago and is indeed now more of a seafood restaurant. I've only been once since and the food was good but, like most of the places in the city, nothing special. I know that sounds pompous and maybe I'm spoilt, but the city centre trattorias and restaurants just aren't as interesting or friendly as the out-of-town places. Tribunale is a good example - decent food but now a bit soulless and perfunctory. It is another old establishment that has come "under new ownership". (It seems that quite a few of the Parma landmark trattorias are being gobbled up by a small group of "investors".) Even going out a couple of kilometres to Ai Due Platani, Antichi Sapori, Mille or Da Romeo you get a more inviting atmosphere and better food. Having said that, if I had one night in the town and wanted a decent Parmigiano meal I would happily eat at Sorelle Picchi (guess what, was sold on a couple of years ago, but still serves very good salumi misti, primi and, unusually for Parma, secondi, particularly the guanciale in vino rosso). But if I had the time and 20 euros to spare for a taxi I'd get out of town. Major caveat: it's only my opinion, others might disagree!

                            1. re: Parmasam

                              I agree with Parmasam that it is worth it to get a cab to go to Ai Due Platani - one of the great meals of our trip to Parma!

                              1. re: ekc

                                Great, thanks everyone for the guidance. We decided to try Ai Due Platani - should be a fun little adventure. Thanks again for all the wonderful insight.