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Ristorante la Greppia, Parma, Italy | Bown's BestClose to the historical centre of the beautiful city of Parma, south of Milan, is a restaurant with a talented chef, a female kitchen team, an impressive cellar and an atmosphere of calm contentment. From the outside, it looks quite ordinary, but inside is a dining room which brings considerable pleasure to its guests. There is an element of homely rusticity to the décor of La Greppia: the long rectangular room has a beamed ceiling and tea cosies hang on the white walls. But the food of Chef Paola Cola (pictured) is anything but unsophisticated. All the pastas and puddings are made on-site, and they are of very high quality – indeed, they alone would make any visit to La Greppia memorable. But I liked the rest of my meal, too.

Settled in a supportive chair, with good glasses (by Da Vinci) gleaming on the white tablecloth before me, I was in the mood for a good dinner. There was canned music, true, but it was of the restful and relaxing sort, so it did not disturb me. The service from Viktor, the waiter in a black apron, was expert and courteous. And Viktor also performed an aesthetic function, for – when he stood under the spotlight at the far end of the room – he looked for all the world like an Expressionist painting, so dramatic was the composition.

Ristorante la Greppia, Parma, Italy | Bown's Best

My first course was described as ‘pears poached in red wine with Parmesan spuma’. I expected it to be topped with foam, but the ‘spuma’ turned out to have the consistency of ice cream. This rich and well-balanced variation on a traditional theme was a delight. And so was the generous portion of tagliolini which came next, with tasty tuna and lovely tomatoes. My main course was beef fillet, from a local cow, with a sauce of cream and green peppers – a really good piece of meat, into which I tucked with enthusiasm. Ristorante la Greppia, Parma, Italy | Bown's BestAnd then came the sweet trolley, and I was taken aback by the sheer quality of its contents – everything was so light and so delicious, and the accompanying balsamic vinegar ice cream (the first time, I think, I had tasted balsamic vinegar ice cream) was as delicious as it was unusual. (Expect to pay around 60€ for four courses.)

The wine list is large and full of interest.  I did not have the opportunity the count the offerings, but my impression was of a number above 400. The prices are friendly and run from 15€ for various local bottles to 850€ for the 1995 vintage of Mouton Rothschild. The following bottles caught my eye: 1998 Solaia (320€, magnum), 1997 Sassicaia (150€), 1998 Tignanello (170€, magnum), 1990 Barbaresco ‘Costa Russi’ Gaja (420€), 2005 Bâtard Montrachet Leflaive (300€) and 1999 Dom Pérignon (190€). I quaffed a superb local red, made from the sangiovese grape, full of ripe damsons and raspberries and magisterial in its structure – a real snip at only 30€ (Pertinello, 2011). This was lovely drinking.

And my whole evening at La Greppia was lovely – for which I thank Chef Cola, waiter Viktor and the army of ladies in the kitchen. If you go to Parma, seek out the Ristorante La Greppia. You will not be disappointed.


Ristorante la Greppia, Parma, Italy | Bown's BestRistorante la Greppia, Parma, Italy | Bown's Best




Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi 39, 43121 Parma, Italy.
Telephone +39 0521 233 686
Open for dinner Wednesday – Sunday

Francis Bown 2003
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