I love Portuguese cuisine, don’t get me wrong, but Italian is just… well, Italian. It is my absolute favourite kind of food, so I was delighted when I recently discovered this gem in my hometown of Lisbon. Fiammetta is an Italian deli-cum-restaurant run by the charming Ludovica Rocchi. Having tired of a career in the fast lane of fashion, she reluctantly acknowledges that while growing up she absorbed some of the culinary knowhow of her mother, and by extension her grandfather and his brothers, who moved from Tuscany to open the original Fiammetta in Rome in the 1940s.
Rocchi opened her elegant Lisbon outpost with an impressive selection of carefully sourced ingredients (for which she goes to suppliers personally). Downstairs you can buy all manner of pasta and pesto, risotto rice, polenta and Marchesi di San Giuliano biscuits (€9.50) from Sicily. There are wines from the north to the south of Italy; among Rocchi’s picks are the Gavi le Marne Bianco (€21) and Ferdinando Principiano’s Barolo Serralunga (€40) from Piedmont and the Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino Caprili (€59). Upstairs are the cheeses – even a smoked burrata (€5.10 per 100g) – as well as artichokes and endless delicious hams.
The recently expanded restaurant shows people how they might cook the raw ingredients, and spills vibrantly out onto the street. I followed Rocchi’s recommendation and opted for the ravioli (€18) with pork belly lardons, black truffles, fresh ricotta and pecorino, as well as (and I am not even really ashamed of myself) gnocchi (€18) with crab and shrimps that melted in the mouth. Both were heavenly. I will be back soon, as I need to sample the apparently “excellent” carbonara (€11) . I doubt you’ll find a better Italian meal than this anywhere in Portugal.