Back in those dear old days of pre-pandemic yore, Business Insider interviewed a number of food world celebrities about their all-time favorite meals. While a few of them picked down-to-earth experiences such as chicken and rice from an NYC street vendor or a thin-crust pie from a Chicagoland pizzeria, most, unsurprisingly, opted for high-end eateries, especially ones that require investing in airfare to Europe. Alex Guarnaschelli was among the latter as she gushed about a restaurant in Nice, France.
Guarnaschelli ordered the pesto pasta at La Merenda, calling it "an ethereal meal that changed my life," although she did not really explain how. Nor did she supply much in the way of detail about the pasta itself, other than to emote about how it brought a tear to her eye because, in her words, "It was that good. And so simple." Which is nice, but a few more details about the ingredients or preparation would be helpful if we want to picture the dish for ourselves. The one thing she did describe, however, is what seems to be a fairly unusual method of serving since she was apparently served a plate of pesto and then the hot pasta was dropped on top of it. Whether the server or diner is supposed to stir the two together, or whether the dish is meant to be eaten in that stratified state, is another thing that Guarnaschelli did not disclose.
Some Diners Don't Share Guarnaschelli's Enthusiasm For La Merenda
Alex Guarnaschelli's description of La Merenda makes the restaurant seem like some little hidden hole in the wall, saying that it doesn't take reservations or credit cards and doesn't even have a phone. We don't know when she ate there (other than that it must have predated the article in which she provides her capsule review — the piece was updated in 2019), La Merenda today is anything but obscure. While it still doesn't take credit cards, nor does it have a phone number it's willing to disclose to the general public, it does take online reservations. It also rates a mention (although not a star) in the Michelin Guide and, at the time of writing, has nearly 750 Trip Advisor reviews, not all of them positive
La Merenda has a four-star rating overall, but there are a fair number of one and two-star reviews. Although apparently the tables are no longer communal, as Guarnaschelli claims they were at the time of her visit, they are small and close together. There may be a bunch of people waiting to be seated which tends to make some diners feel uncomfortably crowded. It's probably not a place to linger over a leisurely meal as those tables need to be turned over ASAP to accommodate the next batch of customers. As for the food, some found it as gush-worthy as Guarnaschelli did. However, others were unimpressed and felt it didn't live up to the hype.
Read the original article on Mashed.