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RAP Italian Epicerie

Due to our closeness to Italy, it’s fairly easy to find an Italian épicerie in almost any Parisian neighborhood. (Although locating an authentic Italian espresso is a little more elusive.) I’m fortunate because there are two excellent Italian épiceries (speciality food shops) close to where I live, but most of the places get their items from a distributor, which means the selection is somewhat narrow. Few places have farro, and I’ve never seen anyone selling farina polenta taragna, the mix of polenta and buckwheat that I first had in the mountains above Milan, and I’d never seen it anywhere outside of Italy. (So I’ve been making my own.)

RAP Italian Epicerie

That’s not a complaint – it’s great to be able to find Sicilian salumi and pasta from Tuscany. And Cooperative Latte Cisternino, an excellent Italian dairy cooperative, is a terrific place for Italian cheeses and other products. (Although they always seem to be closed when I go there.)

RAP Italian Epicerie

But artisanal products, items from small producers, are a little more challenging to find. So I was charmed when my friend Terresa and I took a field trip to discover RAP, which offers rarely seen Italian foods, imported directly by Alessandra Pierini, who curates the selection in her jammed-to-the-rafters shop in the 9th arrondissement.

RAP Italian Epicerie

I haven’t seen such a varied and curious selection of products all together outside of Italy since, well – ever. (Eataly, eat your heart out.) Granted RAP is tiny; imagine if someone pushed eight phone booths together, and you’ll get some idea of its size.

RAP Italian Epicerie

Yet I was incredibly excited to be surrounded by shelves and shelves holding many of the foods I love from Italy, including unusual chocolates, citron soda, and pure, unadulterated pistachio spreads, which were in danger of being eclipsed by things that I’d never seen or tasted.

RAP Italian Epicerie

There were branches of “fresh” cherry tomatoes, that have been semi-dried on the branch. The heart-shaped tomatoes are still slightly pliable, but the flavor gets concentrates as they lose their moisture, and they’re meant to be tossed with hot pasta, where they plump up again with the steamy heat.

RAP Italian Epicerie

And I’d also never seen fire-roasted pasta, or smoked ricotta, which I couldn’t help buying a big wedge of, because I love anything smoked. Although it’s currently competing with a round of Mont d’Or and a container of fermented Thai shrimp paste for olfactory domination in my refrigerator.

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

Italian cheeses are well represented and resting by the window was a castle-shaped round of cheese called Rocca d’Asolo, resembling a crenelated fortress.

RAP Italian Epicerie

Salumi such as guanciale, made from the fatty cheeks of pork, essential in authentic pasta alla carbonara – and if you don’t use it, you risk getting busted by the authenticity police. (Ditto with bucatini all’amatriciana.) So you can rest easy because you can find it here, hanging in the cold storage area alongside San Daniele hams and massive cylinders of mortadella. If you’re fortunate, she’ll have Lardo di Colonnata, Tuscan pork fat cured in marble which, when cut into ultra-thin slices, is unquestionably one of the best things you will ever eat. The first time I had it, I was told to drape the slices over warm, grilled bread, brushed with olive oil and the tiniest bit of fresh rosemary, which ranks right up there with being told in third-grade that one day, that smart mouth of mine is going to get me into trouble, as the most spot-on advisement of my life.

RAP Italian Epicerie

One particularly spicy, oval-shaped salami, Alessandra told me, was popular with Americans because it reminded us of pepperoni, as it leaned toward the spicy/peppery side. And because many Italians eat senza glutine, there are plenty of gluten-free products, including a few shelves of pasta without a trace of wheat in them. If you want to make your own pasta, or pizza, the Italian way, there are the flours here to do it.

RAP Italian Epicerie

And if you want to learn how to make your own pasta, the Italian way, from an actual Italian, Alessandra holds ateliers offering hands-on lessons.

RAP Italian Epicerie

Still kicking myself for not buying a jar of the creamed honey with hazelnut paste…

RAP Italian Epicerie

There are lots of bottles of sparkly, dry prosecco, as well as my one of my favorite wines from Sicily, from Occhipinti. (Unfortunately I’ve been stockpiling wine for lord-knows-what, and have vowed not to buy any more until I’ve made a serious dent in my stock, which is currently jammed in every available cranny in my apartment. Note to self: Time for a party!)

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

Sweets are well represented as well, from tiny rum-soaked babas in a jar to knobbly fresh lemons from Sorrento, in case you want to make your own granita or an icy-cold sgroppino.

RAP Italian Epicerie

I can’t do justice to the marvelous products on her shelves, but Alessandra is happy to explain if you stop in.

RAP Italian Epicerie

Even though my Italian larder was pretty well stocked from a recent trip to Sicily, I came home with the aforementioned chunk of smoked ricotta, and a supple, paper-wrapped rectangle of La Casatella, which has a shelf life of only two weeks. It was so gooey, when I took it out of the package, the whole thing threatened to spill all over the counter. Luckily I had spoon handy – to help “contain” it. In my mouth.

RAP Italian Epicerie

I also bought a container of fresh ricotta, something I learned to love for breakfast while in Sicily, spread on toast with a dribble of dark honey and a few crystals of sea salt scattered over on top.

RAP Italian Epicerie

After I had packed up all my cheeses, and a few other goodies, I noticed a curious – and beautiful – package, labeled Formaggio Al Radicchio Rossa, with leafy red radicchio sprouting from the paper wrapping, which contains bits of dried radicchio. I didn’t bring that one home, but it’s a good reason (as well as a shelf of Italian torrone – one of my biggest weaknesses, and that honey-hazelnut spread) to go back and do a little more shopping.

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Épicerie
4, rue Flechier (9th)
Tél: 01 42 80 09 91
Métro: Cadet
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30am to 7:30pm, Sunday 10am to 1pm

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie


    • Trini

    I am in love with this store from afar in Aus! Shopping in local stores like this is so much more enjoyable than in the supermarket chains. The produce is almost always infinitely better and artisan products more interesting by far.

    • susan

    Umm.. i have never heard of the polenta and buckwheat dish- post a recipe soon?

    that sounds intriguingly delicious!

    • Jess

    RAP is pretty close to where I work, and it’s hands down the best Italian epicerie I’ve found in Paris! I love popping over on my way home for ham and burrata or pecorino. I’ve never tried any of their sweets or wines though, the cheeses distract me every time!

    • CoffeeGrounded

    Yes, please post the recipe for the polenta and buckwheat item. Please, pretty please?

    Is that caramel oozing from the lovely croissant-style pastry? Can I have the tray full, please?

    Roasted pasta? Sounds like a challenge waiting to be met, but first I need the lovely pasta flours…oh, and the skilled hands.

    Again we are spoiled…


    • Three-Cookies

    I am wondering whether it would be easy to make creamed honey with hazelnut paste – just mix the two?
    Everything looks fantastic, though that instant polenta seems out of place.

    • Cathy

    Mouthwatering post, David. Some day, I want to go épicerie hopping with you!

    • Adriana

    Oooh,yum to all! Those sfoliatelle make my mouth water. They are very scarce in the US, most bakeries buy them frozen, maybe parbaked, and finish them in the shop.

    • mike

    Yum! Is that a 16 Euro bottle of passata lol??

    • Liz Sisk

    Hello David!
    Your blog is so very much enjoyed. Can you please share how you mix Polenta and Buckwheat to make the Italian specialty. I love both grains and would like to try it.
    Thanks so so much for your wonderful blog and books…all of which I have and enjoy. Keep up the great work!
    Liz Sisk

    • Gayle

    I loved everything about this article until I got to the picture of the sfogliatelles. I had to make them in pastry school and my heart still palpitates when I see them. Kind of like when you run into that awful teacher from 7th grade and she still gives you nightmares. Horrid things to make. Wonderful to eat, but I can’t ever enjoy them again…

    • Jake Sterling

    I have to ask, how fat are you? My God, if I ate a quarter of the things you rave about, I wouldn’t fit through my front door. And yet, I have this horrible suspicion that you are one of those dispicable people who do eat everything and still remain thin. If so, I may have to cancel my subscription.

    • Berli

    I had polenta taragna in (historical) Bergamo in 1999. i was in Milan for the week of my Birthday, last week of November and for Thanksgiving. It was gorgeous and the little stone front shops had their windows already decorated for Christmas. My cousin who lives in Brescia took us out for dinner. I had Polenta Taragna with mushrooms. I still dream of that meal…. so rich and warm…mmmmmmmmmmm

    I’ve often looked for recipes online without any luck!

    • kelly

    what a beautiful post to wake up to. makes me want to return to both italy and france!

    • Judith Basham

    Evil, just plain evil to read this at 15.50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • suedoise

    But do they have the divine CUNEESI, the dark dark chocolates filled with a great deal of rum, each heavenly piece wrapped in festive red? I have checked online on the homepage of the RAP but found nothing. Ah what would I give for a chance to get the CUNEESI in Paris!!
    One finds them all over Italy in the pasticcerias and the coffeeroasting delights called salumerias (where they sell all kinds of goodies). The CUNEESI must be fresh.One finds them of doubtful age in the shops catering to visitors in the border town of Ventimiglia in the South of France.
    They are made in a chocolate paradise called Cuneo, an old town and stop on the breathtaking little railway going from Nice (and Ventimiglia) to Turin passing through an endless amount of tunnels.
    Stranger, do not miss.

    • Claire

    David, are you familiar with La Tete Dans Les Olives ( I’d be very surprised if you weren’t, but I had to share in case. Sicily in Paris! I went for the tasting menu with my boyfriend last August, and it was one of the best meals of my life. Thanks for this and all of your beautiful posts!

    • MrsG

    Buy me a bottle of the Honey Noisette creme too please. How could you pass it up? Please write about TENTATION cheese. Returning from Paris, I can kick myself for not bring some home. You lucky guy! Mrs. G

    • Sharyn Dimmick

    Beautiful photographs, David. Now I want to go there…

    • BelleD

    This post makes me nostalgic for Le Village monthly sales in Burlingame (?), CA. They supplied retail and restaurants with just about everything, from petit suisse to foie gras to big blocks of Valrhona chocolate. A couple of weekends a month, they opened to the general public. French expats, foodies, and baking students lined up early to get in and stock up on goodies like pistachio paste, a whole roll of pancetta, and 10 kg blocks of dark chocolate. The warehouse, and it was indeed a warehouse, was eventually sold about 5-6 years ago. People missed it so much that the former owners opened a little retail shop in San Mateo (?) but it just isn’t the same.

    • guglielmo

    I wanted to go there! I m in search for bitto! to do pizzoccheri a typical italian (northern) dish :D

    • Philip

    I was given a tin of Sicilian pistachio paste for Christmas. It’s such an odd green I hesitate to bake with it. Should I make ice cream?

    • kathy

    Naturally, the one I am most curious about is the wrapped radicchio one. At least you could have unwrapped it! I also liked that smoked ricotta. I have never seen ricotta that isn’t loose like cottage cheese. Looked like Cotija Mexican cheese. So many wonderful items, so far away!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    jess: Yes, it’s a pretty great place and rather different than the other Italian épiceries around town.

    susan, Liz and coffeeGrounded: The recipe is in my upcoming book, and it’s a great twist on regular polenta.

    Claire: I do know that place and it’s charming (and tiny!) Glad you liked it, and glad you like the posts ~

    ThreeCookies: I normally dislike instant polenta but I had some from the Savoie a few years ago that was quite good and close to regular polenta. I imagine if she carries it in the shop, it’s good too.

    Phillip: If it’s true pistachio paste with sugar, you can try making Italian almond cookies with it. But hard to say without seeing it. (Almond paste is about 35% or so sugar, so check the percentages on your package and see.)

    • Starry Night

    That runny cheese made me swooooon. I volunteer to come help you make a dent in your wine stockpile – someone’s got to do it. Thanks for this marvelous post. I’m not likely to ever get to that store but you made me feel like I was right there with you.

    • Melly

    This shop seems to be very interesting and the prices are really good, pretty much as here in Italy.
    So bad we don’t have this kind of French shop here in Bologna!

    • Anne

    Great post as usual David. I gladly sourced some excellent gluten free pasta from RAP but If you are fond of Italian charcuterie try Pozzetto’s 24 months Parma ham. If there don’t miss their warm sfogliatelle, tiny neapolitan pastries and their hazelnut only heavenly Giandugia spread

    • Kate

    I could spend all day and all my money in food stores of this kind. Dangerous! But thanks for the tip.

    • Maria

    You are a lucky man, Dave, :)

    • Phyllis

    Moro makes a Polenta Taragna, imported into the US by a company called Italian Harvest. Their whole line of artisanal Italian foods is gorgeous.

    • Mike

    They sell Occhipinti at Bi-Rite in SF and I have a bottle in my house. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Elena

    RAP, excellent food, but prices for some products with long shelflife are too high compared with same products in Italy.
    If we consider that the average price for a Siccagno in Italy is 18€ …. how do you consider 34€ in Paris ? 75cl of passata di pomodori at 16€ ???

    It’s different if we speak about cheese and salumi, here prices are honest considering the short shelflife.

    Anyway, both Cisternino and RAP are good adresses in Paris !

    • Deborah

    Dear David,
    Where, oh where can we find fresh and real Italian sausage in Paris? Is there a law against it? (Seriously.)
    Wonderful post, as always. they just get better and better, many thanks!

    • Anne

    Orzo? Fontina? Two things I can never find in Paris.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Anne: You can get orzo at most Arab markets, such as Sabah. I’ve seen Fontina although it’s certainly not common. I don’t remember where though…it may have been here, but not sure.

    Elena: Things in Paris are expensive for a variety of reasons, one being the price of renting/real estate, and Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world for that. It’s always surprising to me to go to a city in Italy (or Spain) and find an espresso is 80 centimes whereas in Paris, it’s usually at least €1,20 (at the bar). Prices on that, and other things, are often higher than elsewhere.

    Mike: Bi-Rite is great – enjoy!

    Anne: I know they just opened a small restaurant but I’ve only been there for gelato. Thanks for the tip.

      • guglielmo

      Anne: i ve been told you can find fontina there :) i will let you know if i go there

    • ault

    Anne: for Fontina you may want to try the Ave Wilson market (Wed & Sat mornings) in the 16e (right in front of the Palais de Tokyo). There is a stall that specialises in Italian cheeses, and I am fairly certain that I’ve seen Fontina there.

    • guglielmo

    I ve been told you can find fontina at RAP

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

    What great pics! I lived in Sardinia Italy for four years and miss it for many reasons…the healthy, organic, delicious FOOD being one of the main reasons ;-)))

    • Steve Martin

    I’m going to have to implement a new rule for myself before I come over and read your blog posts, David.

    Rule #1: Never read David Lebovitz’s blog unless I’ve had a very satisfying meal.

    (lest I care to spend good time, and possibly money, to clean the drool from my keyboard)

    • Barbara

    Dear David,
    it’s always a great pleasure reading your posts.
    I’m writing from Italy and I’d like to give you my recipes of Polenta Taragna and Pizzoccheri from Valtellina, made with buckwhat flour as well.
    Perhaps you could try them, improve them and, obviously, correct my translation!!


    Flour (for polenta taragna) 400 g ( approx. 16 ounces)
    Water 2 litres (approx. 2 quarts)
    Salt 1/2 teaspoon
    Butter 150 g (approx. 6 ounces)
    Cheese (Fontina, Casera, Branzi, Bitto,Formai de Mut) 600 g (approx. 1 pound and 6 ounces)

    Pour water into a copper pot (or a steel pot with a thick bottom) and bring it to the boil, then add salt and pour the flour slowly, while stirring up continuously with a long wooden spoon to avoid lumps.
    Go on stirring up the polenta until almost cooked (50-60 minutes) (the polenta is ready when it comes off easily from the pot sides). In the meanwhile, cut butter and cheese into small pieces, then add them to the polenta, while lowering the heat to the minimum; stirr up until all ingredients are completely melted and mixed together (5-6 minutes). If necessary, add salt.
    Serve the polenta hot into ceramic or terracotta small bowls or spread it on a round wooden board.

    Tip: Pour some melted butter with some sage leaves and a clove of garlic over the polenta and serve hot.

    Information: the polenta taragna, a local dish from Valtellina, Brescia and Bergamo valleys, is prepared with mixed flours from corn and buckwheat (generally 50% cornmeal and 50% buckwheat flour, sometimes 30% and 70% or 25% and 75% – the more you add buckwheat flour, the more you add water) and a good amount of butter and medium-fat cheeses, like Branzi, Casera, Bitto, Formai de Mut and Fontina (depending on the places).
    The polenta taragna, usually served hot, creamy and melting, is a very nourishing and tasty dish, which can be savoured alone (more butter is added) or accompanied by sausages or roast pork spare-ribs.
    The word “taragna” comes from the substantive “tarai” or “tarel” which was the long wooden stick used to stirr up the polenta cooking into the copper pot on the fire.


    Buckwheat flour 300 g (approx. 12 ounces)
    Wheat flour 200 g (approx. 8 ounces)
    Savoy (or Swiss chard, spinach beet) 500 g (approx. 1 pound and 2 ounces)
    3 medium potatoes
    2 cloves of garlic
    Sage leaves
    Casera cheese (approx. 16 ounces)
    Parmesan cheese (grated) 100 g (approx. 4 ounces)
    Butter 200 g (approx. 8 ounces)

    Mix together buckwheat flour and wheat flour by kneading them with water until you have a rather thick dough. Roll it out on a wooden board until you obtain a dough half a centimeter thick. Cut the dough into strips, so as to obtain tagliatelle (noodles) half a centimeter wide.
    Pour water into a pot, add savoy and potatoes (previously cut into small pieces) and bring to the boil. Add salt and then the Pizzoccheri. Let them cook for 10 minutes.
    Once cooked, strain the Pizzoccheri and the pieces of potatoes and savoy and serve them with small cubes of Casera cheese, grated parmesan cheese and melted butter with garlic and sage. Eat hot!

    Thank you very much for your attention and excuse me for all translation mistakes.
    Hope to read you soon!

    • Barbara

    If you like italian salumi, (should you haven’t aldready done it) perhaps you can try those produced in our Emilia Romagna Region, such as: Coppa and Pancetta from Piacenza, Fiocchetto fron Parma, Culatello from Zibello (Parma), Spalla cotta from San Secondo (Parma), Salame from Felino (Parma), Prosciutto crudo (Ham) from Langhirano (Parma), Cotechino and Zampone fron Modena.
    The pistachio spread shown in the 6th picture seems to be the one we use to serve pasta, especially spaghetti, like a basil pesto, or to flavour a vegetable soup.
    We have also a sweet pistachio spread we use to prepare delicious fillings for cakes and Christmas Panettone (alone or mixed with mascarpone, whipped cream, sweet condensed milk and hard chocolate drops).
    The Rocca d’Asolo cheese shown in the 10th picture is traditionally produced with high quality cow’s raw milk from Pedemontana Trevigiana, the area at the foots of the mountains around the province of Treviso (north-east). Milked and processed in the same day, this milk contains Omega3 because the cows are feeded with hay, corn grains, flaxseeds and soy. The typical polygonal shape with merlons represents the Rocca d’Asolo, the famous fortress situated on the top of Mount Ricco, dominating the village of Asolo (province of Treviso).
    In addition to Lardo from Colonnata, we have a marvellous product from Valle d’Aosta Region (north-west), i.e. the Lardo from Arnad, which is exclusively produced within the municipal boundaries of the commune of Arnad. In 1996 this lardo awarded the European Union Protected Designation of Origin Status. During the preparation It’s aromatised with herbs and spices like juniper, bay, nutmeg, sage and rosemary. It may be served very thinly sliced on hot grilled Polenta slices, so as to savour its sweet and delicate aroma, or on a slice of rye bread, toasted (grilled) in a baking pan and then spread with honey (the so called “bocon du diable”).
    The salame in the 11th picture seems to be very similar to Sopressata PDO from Calabria Region (south), which is prepared with lean pork mixed with bacon, natural spices (including black pepper, red or hot pepper) and salt.
    The Casatella DPO from Treviso is a delicious cheese which is good either eaten alone or used to prepare tasty dishes, such as risotto with red radicchio and speck or stuffed potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cinnamon.
    The sausage from Sardegna shown in the 26th picture comes from Regione Campidana, that is the area around the province of Oristano (south-west of Sardegna).
    I hope you’ll understand my english…!
    Have a pleasant evening.

    • Kara

    I live in the Riverina, NSW, Australia. The area has a lot of Italians, and they make sure that the right ingredients are on hand. So I’ve been chowing down on Italian food since I was a kid, at that time I didn’t know that it was Italian food. So in the Italian food department I was lucky. Now I wish the area was invaded by Thais.

    But I’ve never seen Smoked Ricotta.

    • Kate

    Pretty sure this post is the definition of the term “food porn.” That second picture, with the cheese, is making me salivate. The fact that I live in the middle of Idaho has never seemed more tragic.

    • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

    Would love to try that pistachio paste! And the smoke ricotta and fire roasted pastas…but Italians eating gluten free? Now that’s something surprising…

    • Daniela

    Just stumbled upon your blog and I’m very glad I did.
    Beautiful pictures, fun to read and very interesting information for global foodies.
    Will be back!

    • Sylvia

    Everything looks delicious (love the picture of the whale eating anchovy paste). But the nougat. Oh. Such a weakness. When I was in Hoboken, NJ recently I stopped to get a fresh muzz sandwich at my favorite salumeria and snagged some nougat, which I hid until I was all by myself and could eat it with total concentration (and without sharing…).

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I love that torrone (Spanish and Italian) – and nougat, too. It’s kind of a challenge to make and a lot of it depends on the quality of the almonds, honey and pistachio. I often stock up when I go to those countries. I have some torrone from Bonajuto in Sicily that is incredible. Fortunately I had bought about 8 packets of it, without even tasting it first. Was glad that I did!

    • Kristi

    I stumbled upon your site by looking for a French tart dough recipe.
    I love the pictures and can’t wait to try some of your recipes. Also….pistachio spread. I need to find this! Love at first sight.

    • Adrian

    Yummmmm! Ricotta affumicata! Told you it was good :)


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