Secret’s out: I’m a Jersey Girl.
Growing up between NYC and Dirty Jers’, I got some serious needs. And those needs are…
real Italian food.
Now, I’m not talkin’ a bowl of pasta with some canned red sauce and parmesan thrown on top, and I’m definitely not talkin’ that fake, “late-night-I’m-drunk-pizza” they have all over Madrid (although it admittedly does the trick at 5 am…) .
After surviving over 8 months in Spain without finding any traces of real Italian food…I finally found it! I present to you…
Hallelujah! I found this gem by word of mouth, thanks to my favorite Italian couple Angie and Francesco, who also happen to be owners of my fave Madrid sandwich shop. In their true foodie words: “It’s the only Italian food we’ll eat in Madrid.”
So, naturally, the three of us went!
Located right next to Plaza de Castilla, La Piperna is owned by the chef himself, who came to Madrid just a few years ago from Naples, Italy. Now, I always say: It’s not real Italian food unless an Italian is makin’ the food! Makes sense, right?! And Chef Nello is just about as Italian as it gets. Not only is he pure Italiano through and though, but he’s Napolitano. Did you know that Naples, the birth place of pizza, is one of the gastronomic stars of Italy? Once you taste his food, or should I say “art”, you’ll believe it…
Every night, Chef Nello stays up past midnight hand-rolling dough for the next day’s bread.
When the morning rolls around, he gets up at the crack O’ dawn and heads to his favorite markets. There, he surfs for the morning’s freshest ingredients. Depending on what catches his eye that day, he buys. Whether it’s a fresh caught fish, a vegetable that looks especially veggielicious, or a unique cut of meat that’s fresh in stock…whatever is his inspiration of the day is, that’s what you’ll be “mangia-ing” that night.
Bruschetta made with the worlds most perfect tomatoes? Maybe.
Sea bass carpaccio with fresh fennel, yuzu fruit and a sprinkling of 50 year aged balsamic vinger? Ya’ never know…
Victoria, Chef Nello’s wife, will walk up to your table and tell you the specials of the day. Hint: That’s what our man Nello thought looked extra shiny at the market!
Of course, they have an “every day” menu, that is downright scrumptious. My personal weakness? THIS. The classic “Ziti allá Genovese”, aka ziti with Nello’s specialty caramelized onion sauce.
Can you say…handmade pasta?
DISCLAIMER: If you’re looking for cheap pizza, this is not your place. In fact, they don’t even have pizza on their menu! Gasp. If you’re looking for out-of-this-world handcrafted pasta dishes, traditional Napolitano fish and meat plates, and some damn good bruschetta and parmigiana, THIS IS YOUR SPOT.
Price: Between 20€- 35€ per person, depending on how much you decide to ball out. The higher range includes an incredible bottle of Italian wine!
Vibe: Chic yet comfy. Definitely on the nicer end, but definitely not stuffy. It’s run by family, and you can feel it!
Perfect occasion: If you want really amazing Italian food and don’t feel like hopping on a plane to Italy. Or, if you want to really impress your girlfriend/boyfriend…
Find it: Calle de la Infanta Mercedes, 98 (Metro Valdeacedera or Metro Plaza de Castilla)
Call fo’ reservations: +34 911 69 49 50
Hours: Tuesday- Saturday (Lunch: 1- 5PM Dinner: 8- 11:45 PM), Sunday (Lunch: 1-5 PM)
We’ll be waiting for you there!