The Unforgettable Meal Alex Guarnaschelli Enjoyed At La Merenda In France

Some meals leave you dreaming of them long after they have been consumed, and such is the case with a bowl of fresh pasta and pesto Alex Guarnaschelli was served at France's La Merenda. The long-standing institution left its mark on culinary celebrity, who fondly remembers her experience there. "It was an ethereal meal that changed my life," Guarnaschelli gushed to Business Insider. "Especially the pasta. The pasta being dropped on the hot pesto in front of me made me tear up. It was that good. And so simple."

The restaurant is located in Nice's Old Town and guests can count on fresh, seasonal flavors and traditional recipes that have the potential to leave such lasting impressions on diners. Chef Dominique Le Stanc has worked in kitchens since he was 14 and has manned operations — several of which have received Michelin recognition — since 1984. At La Merenda, Le Stanc takes pride in his own creations. "I worked in fine dining restaurants for decades," he says on La Merenda's website. "Ultimately, these institutions require too much logistics compared to the culinary art. Here, at La Merenda, I can focus on the essence of cooking: with market-fresh products, sharing my pleasure of sincere and authentic cuisine." Like handmade pesto

A taste of tradition along the French Riviera

It isn't only satisfying plates of basil pesto pasta that Le Stanc serves to guests. From stuffed sardines, freshly made pizzas, oxtail served with orange and polenta, and black pudding with onions, diners have plenty to choose from off the handwritten chalkboard menu. Sweet cravings can be squashed with cheeses and desserts like chocolate mousse, sweet chard pie, lemon pie, and pots of vanilla cream. Though La Merenda might mean a snack in Niçard, bellies will be full after exiting this place. 

La Merenda takes the term "old world" to heart; it can only accommodate twenty-something diners, is closed on weekends, and cards aren't accepted, so visitors will need to come prepared with cash. Communal tables add to the pleasant atmosphere and quaint, local feel, and Le Stanc leaves a bicycle parked in the front of the restaurant when it is open for service – the same cycle he rides to the market in the morning to collect ingredients to make pesto that may have you craving for long after you've left Europe.