As usual when on holiday, I want to eat outside. I want to sit under a parasol basking in the heat of the sun, sipping on a cold glass of something that will swiftly make me heady as I lazily watch the world go by around me. So if I hadn’t been recommended Ristorante Angiol d’or specifically, I would never have chosen to eat there – I may not have even noticed the place, the restaurant not having any tables spilling out onto the piazza where it lives. There is a covered indoor terrace area which I imagine would be lovely in the evening, but during the quiet of August on a Sunday lunchtime the main indoor area was the only option for a table. In hindsight, with temperatures nearing 40 degrees outside and the inside very much indulging in air con, this was nothing but a good thing. Besides, with a large open window looking straight onto Piazza del Duomo and the Baptistery of Parma beyond, you may as well have been outside.
Now I’d actually been sent off to Ristorante Angiol d’or with some specific dishes to order, and a couple of them blew me away so much I’m going to instruct you to do the same. To start off what will undoubtedly be an incredible meal, order the plate of Parma ham aged for 30 months because guys – you’re actually IN Parma, no excuses. Let’s face it, Parma ham is always good – in Parma it’s phenomenal. So soft – almost buttery – it practically melts in your mouth. Team this with another must order, the traditional fried bread (€4), and I guarantee you your eyes will roll back in your head whilst you eat. These fried breads are all puffed up and hollow inside, and whilst certainly fried, not greasy how you may imagine. Served hot, pulling them apart to stuff with parma ham and then washing it all down with a perfectly chilled locally produced glass of white is an experience I’d happily repeat each week. And as you may know by now I did dine alone on this trip, and yes, I ate it all – I couldn’t leave any of that Parma ham, though they do an assorted plate including salami, copper and cicciolata for the same price (€11), should you want to mix it up. Or hey, get both! When in Parma and all that.
As ever in Italy, I find it hard to manage the four courses that is standard for Italians – try as I might – and usually opt for either the ‘first course’ in the form of a pasta dish, or the skip straight to the meat course. I’d been recommended a pistachio encrusted beef burger which spiked my interest even though I would never usually order such a dish in Italy, but it wasn’t on the menu during my visit, so I opted for the more traditional gnocchi with duck ragout, julienne vegetables, spinach and thick shavings of parmesan (€12). A bit of a rogue choice for me as I would usually opt for ricotta tortellini (€10) and was admittedly tempted by the spaghetti carbonara done in the ‘Angiol d’Or’ style (€11), whatever that may be, but I learnt something about gnocchi that day. Gnocchi is supposed to be light. I genuinely had no idea that gnocchi can or should be anything other than the fairly stodgy situation we tend to get in the UK. It goes without saying the Italians would of course do it better, but just how well they do was somewhat of a revelation; it was a beautiful dish.
A fellow diner confided that the tiramisu was exemplary should you be so inclined, but with no room for desert I settled on an espresso to perk me up for wandering through Parma during the afternoon heat. Because Italy is very much that grandmother who will insist on feeding you up as much as possible and then force leftovers into your hand as you leave, my espresso was served with morsels of cake and biscuits. The floury chocolate cake was particularly good.
When in Parma Ristorante Angiol d’or is a must, and it’s no surprise that it sits firmly in the Michelin Guide. Go hungry, and go with people so you can try as much as possible. Do not under any circumstances forget to order the fried bread. Thank me later.
Via Scutellari, 1, 43121 Parma PR, Italy
Closed Mondays and Tuesday lunchtimes