Designed by French architect Benoit Jallon and Italian architect Umberto Napolitano, founders of Paris-based architecture practice LAN (Local Architecture Network), Pianoterra is a new Italian restaurant in Paris helmed by Chef Rosa Vanina, whose soulful Sicilian cuisine is complemented by an austere yet meticulously detailed environment that reflects the duo’s multidisciplinary approach to architecture. Located in the 11th arrondissement between Place de la Bastille and the Marais, on the ground floor of Jallon and Napolitano’s agency - hence its name, pianoterra is ground floor in Italian – the restaurant, which also functions as an ad hoc gallery, has been designed in a dialogue with the streets of Paris with the intention of creating encounters of “shared pleasure”, be they culinary, social or artistic.
Pianoterra’s origins go back to 2018 when Jallon and Napolitano moved LAN’s offices to Rue Popincourt in eastern Paris, the same time that Rosa Vanina joined the team as private Chef for the agency’s cafeteria. Fast forward three years and the new restaurant is not only the result of their creative collaboration, it also embodies the importance of openness in LAN’s work, both literally in terms of opening up the building to the public, and conceptually in terms of working beyond the field of architecture to tackle social, urban, ecological and functional issues.
For the interior, the architects have adopted a subtle colour and material palette inspired by both the streets of Paris as well as the agency’s own premises. Cerulean blue waxed concrete floors that echo Parisian rooftops and stuccoed walls made from white Parisian stone elegantly conjure a raw urban vibe, while natural wood furnishings and embroidered table linen add warmth and homely hospitality. Plenty of natural lighting flowing in from the street and back courtyard, courtesy of wall-to-wall windows, in conjunction with silvered mirrors imbue the space with cheerfulness despite the muted hues, while photographs and architectural drawings by acclaimed architects such as Alavaro Siza, Philippe Rahm, Lina Ghotmeh, Tham & Videgård and Cyrille Weiner, accentuate the otherwise sparse interior. In combination with a collection of books and periodicals, and the addition of floor lamps and potted plants, Pianoterra’s interior conveys the sensation that you’ve stepped into an architect’s home rather than a restaurant.
The homely, effortless sophistication and attention to detail of the interior design is echoed by the authentic sensibility of Chef Vanina’s cuisine which filters her Sicilian heritage through a contemporary culinary lens. Based on sustainable, fresh ingredients, sourced from both Italy and France, the restaurant serves an eclectic selection of Italian specialities like artichoke caponata and pasta alla Norma, with a focus on seafood with dishes such as asparagus & langoustine risotto, spaghetti with sea urchins, grilled octopus, and tuna belly. For dessert, Vanina’s chocolate mousse made with organic olive oil from Mount Etna shouldn’t be missed, which like the rest of Pianoterra’s exuberant dishes fills the space with Italian flavours, textures and aromas, nurturing the patrons’ shared passion for good food whilst enhancing the architects’ mission to encourage communal moments of pleasure.