Hôtel de Paris, Place du Casino, Monte Carlo 98000, Monaco, +377 98 06 88 64
Le Mirazur In a far-off land, a conquistador was needed. It was Mauro Colagreco, a child of La Plata near Buenos Aires and protégé of Alain Passard, Bernard Loiseau and Alain Ducasse. At this frontier post, they wished him good luck. He seized his opportunity and went on to bring Michelin stars to Menton and made Mirazur his post. Carpaccio of prawns, radish and lemon caviar; pork belly, persimmon and caramelised quinces - a buccaneer's delight; frozen almond mousse, fennel and orange sorbet… It is cuisine and expression, produce honoured and unadulterated, the painterly plate, textures, adventures, emotions. The fire and the foam. In the evening, the bay windows showcase the old quarter where Cocteau used to draw. Past and present - a clear line!
30 avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton, France, +33 492 41 86 86
There is this: "To drink is to be a patriot." And this: "There are two types of men - the Niçois and those who yearn to be." Whichever way you look at it, Jean-Philippe Gazan's cellar-cum-bistro, where local workers gather, is from Nice and for Nice. One room is dedicated to regional wines. At the bar and the tables, the menu is Nissart: pissaladière, piech (a stuffed veal breast), andouillette and porchetta from the local charcutier, and, twice a month, an unforgettable salt cod dish. Nothing changes in this friendly, convivial, typically Niçoise refuge. It's rarely closed, and when it is, it's only on account of "extreme fatigue".
3 rue de la Tour, 06300 Vieux Nice, France, +33 493 80 03 31.
A bit of charcuterie, a lot of knowledge and Nice for everyone.
29 rue Pairolière, 06300 Nice, France, +33 493 85 60 34
13 rue Bavastro, 06300 Nice, France, +33 493 55 88 82
2 place Rosetti/6 rue de la Poissonnerie, 06300 Nice, France, +33 493 80 72 52
Cours Saleya, 06300 Vieux Nice, France
The cuisine is "d'aqui", from here. Pure Niçoise cuisine, but comprehensible for patrons from far and wide. Zucchini beignets; mesclun, rocket and ricotta; pesto pasta; salt cod; silverbeet tart - every dish has its papers in order and a visa from the nearby Saleya market. Dominique Le Stanc left formal fine-dining one autumn day in 1996. "Finally, I will be able to cook!" he said, making only small changes to this neighbourhood restaurant created 20 years ago by the Giustis, a husband-and-wife team. Simplicity, local produce, a tiny kitchen with red tiles, cosy shoulder-to-shoulder tables, stools to set off your arthritis; telephone, fax, internet and credit cards forbidden. Happiness!
4 rue Raoul Bosio, 06300 Nice, France
Quai de Monléon, 06500 Menton, France, +33 492 41 76 76
Île St-Honorat, 06400 Cannes, +33 492 99 54 08
Delio Viale used to run the restaurant Gaston in Dolceacqua. Now he has taken over the family inn in the village of his birth, Apricale, with its steep streets and stone-built houses. In his serene house on the shady terrace, only good dishes from old recipes are served: machetusa (pizza with anchovy paste), stuffed vegetables, herbed ravioli, spelt pasta with a piquant pesto, rabbit casserole, salt cod, the little Louis d'Or cheeses from Seborga, and lasagne of sautéed vegetables with basil. Of course we drink rossese from Dolceacqua or a drop of vermentino and we have, also from the local region, Taggiasca olive oil, white beans from Pigna, and sheep's cheese from the Argentina Valley. Quite simply, produce of the terroir.
9 Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 18035 Apricale, Imperia, Italy, +39 0184 208 008
The patio garden is green with freshness in summer. The house, with its lime-washed walls and bay windows, looks like a boutique in Provence. So, all is well! "Yes, but are you enjoying the meal? The scallops in lamb's lettuce jus with gnocchi, black truffles and parmesan? It's good, but good in what way?" We wouldn't change Benoît Dargère, incurable perfectionist and protégé of Alain Passard. His cuisine seduces beyond the walls of Mougins: his dishes are light and fragrant, and whoever has tasted his caramel praline millefeuille will not find anything to equal it. Caroline Dargère smiles; the patrons come back and say (again), "It's good!"
351 avenue St-Basile, 06250 Mougins, France, +33 492 92 93 03
Oneglia, 18100 Imperia, Italy
Right in the heart of the village, this restaurant is inspired, luminous with a sense of history. Denis Fétisson, who worked with Roger Vergé, Alain Ducasse and Yannick Alléno and has Paul Bajade (the lord of truffles in the Haut-Var region) as his master, has found his place in the south. Carpaccio of "pineapple" tomatoes laced with seaweed, grilled turbot with thyme-flower petals, ox-cheek confit in tomato vinegar, and rigatoni in gratin Bolognaise are some of the first courses in his gourmet cuisine, surrounded by masterpieces by Buffet, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol and Dufy. At nearby L'Amandier, a restaurant true to its heritage with stone walls, olive press and a golden terrace, Fétisson offers his delicious cuisine du soleil, the cuisine of the sun, a fresh take on Provençale cuisine pioneered by Vergé.
Place du Commandant Lamy, 06250 Mougins, France, +33 493 90 15 78