When the owner of Papa Giovanni, a family-style Italian eatery on Zhongxiao East Road (忠孝東路), put his business up for sale in March, Giorgio Trevisan jumped at the chance.
“For me, it was like to be reborn,” said Trevisan, an Italian chef from Verona who has been in Taipei for 10 years.
The same could be said about the restaurant, which now goes by the name PaPa Gio’.
The decor hasn’t changed much — it’s still classy but relaxed with lots of dark, natural hues and warm lighting — but the menu has been revamped and showcases Trevisan’s excellent pizzas and fellow chef and
co-owner Matteo Boschiavo’s pastas made from scratch.
If you’ve had good Italian food in Taipei, chances are Trevisan and Boschiavo were the chefs. Trevisan started working at Osteria Rialto when he arrived in Taiwan in 1999, ran his own restaurant, Giorgio, for five years and most recently served as the head chef at Capone’s. Boschiavo, also a Verona native, followed a similar track. He met Trevisan while working at Osteria Rialto, moved on as a freelancer for the major hotels and then joined him again at Capone’s.
PaPa Gio’ is a “dream come true,” says Trevisan, as he and Boschiavo feel like they have the freedom to go for a more traditional trattoria-style atmosphere, where “you don’t have customers, you just have friends” coming to eat.
After trying the pizza, you’ll feel like Trevisan’s best friend. The Fresca (NT$450) is a delectable balance of heavy and light: a rich harmony of mozzarella and ricotta and cherry tomatoes and fresh arugula. The crust is simply done right — thin and crispy but not cracker-like, and slightly doughy on the edge. On a second visit, my dining companion didn’t want to share his “Pizza della Casa PaPa Gio” (NT$450), a house specialty with a supreme combination of tomato, mozzarella, mushroom, ham, artichoke, salami, anchovy and olives.
The 12-inch pies come in 20 varieties and are baked in a stone-base oven imported from Italy. With prices ranging between NT$300 and NT$450, PaPa Gio’ is a must-try for pizza lovers.
For pastas, Boschiavo makes fresh fettuccine, tortelloni and gnocchi, ranging from NT$280 to NT$400. A delicious, creamy choice is the gnocchi verdi al Gorgonzola e noci (NT$350), a pasta made of potato and spinach topped with Gorgonzola, Parmesan and walnut.
Boschiavo recommends the grilled rib-eye steak (NT$650) for meat lovers, and says the steaks are USDA prime. Other main courses include grilled tiger prawns (NT$700) and grilled salmon with garlic cream sauce (NT$550).
Many traditional trattorias don’t offer menus, say the two chefs. While this wouldn’t work in Taipei, they try to oblige any special requests and keep a constant rotation of off-menu specials, using whatever fresh ingredients are available. Recently, Boschiavo came up with a frog legs risotto, which he insists is worth a try. The not-so-adventurous can stick with the risotto with porcini mushrooms (NT$450), made with imported carnaroli rice.
For dessert, we had a blueberry-topped panna cotta (NT$180), which was commendable, but a sinfully good tiramisu (NT$180) stole the show.
PaPa Gio’ a short walk from Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT Station (忠孝敦化捷運站), exit No. 5.
Address: 22, Alley 6, Ln 170, Zhongxiao E Rd, Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路四段170巷6弄22號) Telephone: (02) 2711-8720 Open: 11:30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm Average meal: NT$500 per person Details: Credit cards accepted
On the Net: www.papagio.com.tw
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