Paris 66, a tiny French bistro and crepery in East Liberty, is subtitled “Everyday French Food.” Maybe that description flies in France, but here in Pittsburgh, the café’s French-speaking staff and elaborate menu of perfectly folded food make it anything but every day.
Although owners Frederic and Lori Rongier have yet to hold a grand opening (set for June 21), the restaurant is already packed at lunchtime. The rich butter cream façade is tucked between shops on Penn Circle South. A large bay window allows passersby to watch the head chef (who greets everyone with a lively “bonjour!”) fold crepes and plate food so perfectly it looks like artwork.
Behind a heavy wooden door, chattering voices overwhelm the small rectangular seating area. In the kitchen, which is also the check-out area, disorganized shelves lined with coffee cups, and glass cases packed with homemade desserts make the place feel more like a quaint sidewalk café than a fancy French restaurant.
And that’s good thing, because that’s exactly what Paris 66 is – most of the time. After the grand opening, the owners plan to break out the linens and prepare an elaborate multi-course dinner once a month. The special meals will be reservation only and each one will likely will feature food from a different region of France.
Paris 66 is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and dinner Thursday through Saturday. The entrees are primarily crepes. Two types -- savory (like "La Paris 66" with ham, swiss cheese, egg, mushrooms and tomato provencale) and sweet (like "La Boulogne" with banana and nutella or homemade chocolate sauce with whipped cream).
Because of the small staff, much of which came from the recently closed Ma Provence in Squirrel Hill, the bistro appropriately closes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Appropriate because that’s the same thing many restaurants do in France; it gives employees time to take a break and regroup.
So while Paris 66 may have far-away roots, it’s already finding a foothold in East Liberty. And technically, it hasn’t even opened.
-- Danielle Kucera