Perfectly balanced beef carpaccio accented with chanterelles; ethereal angel hair pasta with shaved black truffles; gnocchi with tangy gorgonzola sauce. Those dishes were irresistible at Frankfurt’s Fontana di Trevi.
I have to admit that despite my German ancestry, I’m not a huge fan of German food. It’s too much pork and potatoes for my taste – at least in central Germany. Bavaria, with more poultry, is a bit more up my alley. I know others may argue, but in my opinion, throughout Germany, the best food is Italian and Turkish. Every city or town has both imports – and often so many restaurants, you’ll never run out of options.
Frankfurt is no exception. It has countless Italian restaurants – many of which are wonderful, but Fontana di Trevi is its best. I learned about it by reading reviews on a major travel website, and a review praising its black truffle pasta in a parmesan basket intrigued me. In my first weekend in Frankfurt, I wandered in for an early Sunday dinner – solo. Dining solo is always a bit intimidating for me, especially because experiencing food is such a social, interactive experience for me and best when shared with others.
Fontana di Trevi sits on a fairly quiet street corner in a residential neighborhood north of downtown Frankfurt. It would be easy to miss without planning and a good GPS, but I stumbled upon it with only a bit of either after a long walk from the Main river. It was perfect timing. As I was seated on the covered outdoor patio, it began to rain steadily. Having done my research into online reviews and arriving with an empty stomach – except for some eis (ice cream) and an apfelwein, I was ready to eat. I love beef carpaccio, so I ordered it as my starter. I was easily upsold into their souped up, Cadillac version if you will (it wasn’t listed on the menu) with assorted chanterelles and perhaps a hint of truffles. It was delicious, and the meaty, earthy chanterelles made it much heartier and filling. With a small carafe of the house red wine, it could have been a full meal.
I did not stop there. I ordered the off-menu, “special” angel hair with a parmesan and black truffle oil sauce. Hint: It is a house specialty, but it is always available. It arrived in a baked parmesan basket, topped with shaved black truffles. It was absolutely exquisite. I hadn’t had a dish like that in a long time, especially because I rarely eat pasta, so it truly wowed me. The parmesan basket itself added a rich, sharp contrast to the heaviness of the truffles and sauce.
I had no room for dessert, and honestly, after several subsequent visits, I have no recollection of eating dessert there, probably because the 1 1/2 mile walk home had a great ice cream shop en route. Without dessert, the experience was wonderful, and I had a nice chat with a Croatian traveler at a nearby table to feel a little less solo.
I never returned alone. Along with my friends and associates, we had the gorgonzola gnocchi and several other pastas and salads there. At times, the service was unremarkable, but it is Europe, and my expectations are low after years of eating in Europe. Several weeks and large entourages later, I can safely say that Fontana di Trevi never lost its crown as Frankfurt’s best Italian restaurant in my book, and it validated my hype.
As I mentioned earlier, Germany – and Frankfurt – have no shortage of good Italian restaurants and pizzerias. For ambience and perhaps a more contemporary, creative spin on Italian, I also recommend Frankfurt’s Ristorante Quattro, located near Konstablerwache, just far enough from the busy Zeil pedestrian shopping area to feel cosy and quiet. It has a lovely, secluded outdoor courtyard that made a large group feel as if we had the place to ourselves.