6 Rue Masséna, Nice, 06000
- Recommended for:
- Couples, Families with teenagers, First-time travellers, Foodies, Mature travellers, People watching, Relaxation
Expert review of Villa d'Este
The central pedestrianised Rue Masséna is where you head when you want to be where everybody else is. By day, it throbs with shoppers, and locals rushing from somewhere to somewhere else.
By night, it’s alive with pleasure-seeking strollers - and about a zillion eateries trying to tempt them in. All spill out into the street on terraces and, as you’d expect, a hefty percentage major on pizzas. Many are pretty ok, too.
None, though, tops the Villa d’Este. It’s a cut above. A few quid above, too, but that’s the way of the world. It takes pizza and various pastas as seriously as the Italians do – which occasionally seems a touch too seriously to me. (We’re talking flour and water, not life and death, though, to hear my Italian acquaintances talk, it’s a close-run thing.)
Shut them up
In truth, not the least of the advantages of the Villa d’Este’s quality is that it shuts them up about food – the Italian acquaintances, I mean – so that we can discuss truly important things. Like football.
The same attention paid to vittles has been lavished on the surroundings. This is no mass-produced trattoria . Whoever designed it had obviously been to Rome and come back with ideas of stained glass, frescoes and the odd column.
Then he flanked them with ochres and reds, snug little alcoves with round tables and contemporary space and light. It all works nicely, and the outdoor terrace is rather less of a scrum than many of those nearby.
Crockery is classily modern, the staff are sharp and know what they’re doing. This is a real restaurant, not a last-minute drop-in option. If, like mine, your Italian acquaintances have been boring you (“The only real pizza is in Naples/Rome/Turin, etc”: you know how they go on), bring them here. If nothing else, you’ll get some peace.
The pizzas are exceptionally good – great bases, upon which you can identify the individual ingredients rather than being overcome by that generic “pizza” taste, the sign of less successful items.
Look out, too, for flatbread dishes like focaccia and schiacciata. The pastas are first-class (though I’m always surprised when, elsewhere, they aren’t; preparing pasta isn’t exactly brain surgery).
There’s a restricted range of meat (lamb chops grilled with wild mushrooms) and fish (grilled calamars). Quite frankly, I’ve never made it through to the puds, though they sound as toothsome as you need. Some decent Italian wines, too.
Both lively and cool, with a mildly pleasant sense of being detached from the run-of-the-mill surging past. The place fills fast and frequently, but seems shorn of the pandemonium which can grip other Italian establishments in similar circumstances.
Professional, knowledgeable and sharp.
On Nice’s principal pedestrianised shopping street, a spit from the Place Masséna.
Pizzas start at 10.80 euros, focaccia and pasta dishes at around 12.50 euros, meat and fish at 24 euros. Choose carefully, though, and you can get out – fully fed and with a glass or two of wine – for under 23 euros a head.
More information on Villa d'Este:
- Price guide:
- Bistro, Pizzeria, Restaurant
- Italian, Modern, Pizza, Vegetarian
- 6 Rue Masséna, Nice, 06000
- 04 93 82 47 77
- Lunch, Dinner
- Opening times:
- Open every day all year, midday-2pm; 7.30-10pm.
- Accepts Credit Cards: