Chat Noir, Chat Blanc
Mr. Grilenzoni and Nicola Sikic, who makes the desserts and runs the dining room, worked at the glamorous Nice restaurant La Reserve when the Finnish chef Jouni Tormanen was heading its kitchen. But though Mr. Grilenzoni may be cooking on the Côte d’Azur, he is decidedly proud of his Italian roots, as evidenced by my menu that day: a terrific starter of foie gras with a sauté of black cherries, followed by a superb risotto flecked with tiny sweet peas and topped with an octopus-studded Bolognese sauce, two plump grilled gambas and a scattering of wild arugula.
“The French don’t understand you shouldn’t add crème fraîche to risotto — the creaminess comes from the starch in the rice,” he said with incredulity, as I was finishing up my meal with some mascarpone-enriched tiramisù. “But, as you say, I let them off the hook because of their incredible cheeses.”
Chat Noir, Chat Blanc, 20, rue Barillerie, Nice; (33-4) 93-80-28-69 Website
Take, for instance, a delicate but lively first course of salmon with avocado-and-Granny-Smith salsa, a gelée of kaffir lime, and rougail, a ginger-spiked Creole tomato sauce. Sliced Angus beef sirloin followed, served with mushrooms, watercress and an onion consommé, boosted by a dollop of satay, the Asian peanut sauce; then cod cooked in miso, served with citrus fruits; and finally a superb coconut cheesecake, accompanied by frozen pineapple sprinkled with lime zest.
Flaveur, 25, rue Gubernatis, Nice; (33-4) 93-62-53-95 Flaveur's website
Le Bistrot de la Marine
In 2010, he reopened Le Bistrot de la Marine, which occupies an 1869 seafront fisherman’s house painted a jaunty saffron yellow. “I wanted to make a restaurant everyone could come to,” Mr. Maximin said. Indeed, the 25-euro two-course prix-fixe menu he serves daily at lunch and dinner is one of the best deals on the Riviera (à la carte options are also available). (snip)
We then tucked into a dish that proved why Mr. Maximin is one of the best fish cooks in France: a whole John Dory à la Niçoise cooked in a copper casserole in a sauce “quatre quarts” — a Maximin classic of equal proportions of olive oil, water, butter and lemon juice — with tomatoes, baby potatoes, Niçoise olives, fennel and thyme. “Good fish cooking always makes the fish taste more like the fish,” Mr. Maximin said with a bashful shrug when I complimented his recipe.
Le Bistrot de la Marine, 96, boulevard de la Plage, Cagnes-sur-Mer; (33-4) 93-26-43-46; Bistrot de la marine
Mr. Parrinello changes his menu — two starters, entrees and desserts — weekly, according to what he finds in the nearby market. Our starter of asparagus risotto, with a green coulis of herbs, was soothing and lushly vegetal. Main courses were excellent, too: veal mignon with baby carrots, grapefruit and a nicely beasty jus de viande; and sea bass with piquillo peppers and shaved fennel. Over dessert, we ended up falling into conversation with a beautiful blond Norwegian singer and drinking Champagne well into the night — a classic Riviera coda to the storied coastline’s terrific new cooking.
L’Armoise, 2, rue de la Tourraque, Vieil-Antibes; (33-4) 92-94-96-13