La Merenda in the French Riviera
LA MERENDA RESTAURANT IN NICE, FRANCE
Picture a tiny little restaurant where nothing has changed in more than half a century—the food, the recipes, the decor. That is La Merenda.
Finding out the owners wanted to retire, Dominique saw his chance: not only did he want to return to cooking in its simplest form, he also wanted La Merenda’s legacy to continue. He then decided to purchase and take over La Merenda, all the while keeping the rare, authentic spirit of the restaurant alive and identical to how it had been run for 30 years.
Reasonably, the owners— Jean and Christiane Giusti— were skeptical. Would Dominique Le Stanc, a Michelin-starred chef, cook only the simple Niçois dishes of their tradition? Most chefs of Dominique’s caliber leave their own signatures on kitchens they run— this wasn’t Le Stanc’s desire.
With his appreciation of La Merenda more important than accolades, Dominique worked hard to earn the trust of the owners. Dominique even spent a few months with them, intimately learning every original recipe Jean kept over the years—and, during that time, they tried his take on their cooking at the restaurant frequently by eating there.
"Jean once told Dominique: “Don’t forget Customers will want to find the same taste of pesto as well as the ratatouille.”
Dominique didn’t change a single thing. He still hasn’t. After gaining their confidence, Dominique acquired La Merenda in December of 1996. Dominique and his wife Danielle, have been running it together for 23 years, and it’s still open—and still preserving authentic local Niçoise cuisine.
La Merenda has become an iconic restaurant in all the country and beyond. From Hollywood stars to curious tourists, people from all over come to feast themselves on the traditional cuisine carefully crafted by Le Stanc. The restaurant since then has also gained much press and world renown, including feature articles in L'Express , Paris Match , Le Point , and as a recommended destination dining spot in the French Riviera by both Vogue and The Times .
Even the greatest French chefs have come to taste his dishes— though the little restaurant already had a long history of hosting these famous culinary figures beforehand. La Merenda has seen the likes of Alain Ducasse, Jacques Maximin, Roger Vergé, George Blanc, and Pierre Troisgros, some of them occasional visitors, though you can also catch a good handful of them there on a regular basis!
A TRUE LOVE STORY BETWEEN DOMINIQUE AND HIS SUPPLIERS
What brings out Dominique Le Stanc’s culinary passions the most at La Merenda? If you asked him, he’d say the beauty, quality, and authenticity of ingredients—but he has other secrets, too.
Picture a 300 square-foot restaurant only seating 25 people. How do you store, cook, and serve the freshest traditional dishes possible?
Dominique claims there’s only one way: to buy everything fresh at market, every single day. The local Cours Saleya Market, barely 5 minutes from La Merenda, is where Dominque bikes to each morning.
He stops in to shop for the freshest foods, produce, and other products for the restaurant. While there, he meets with his supplier and farmer friends for the very best local oils, fish, fruits, and vegetables in the region. Indeed, the restaurant doesn’t just have suppliers—it has friends, one for every single ingredient.
Dominique has long sourced his eggs from Louisette, who sold them at market for 60 years before retiring at age 87. Growers Françoise and Jacqueline produce the beautiful tomatoes that go into La Merenda’s tomato coulis for pizza, as well as the citrus, zucchinis, peppers, and eggplants for its unique ratatouille.
With fondness for local products and the rare quality only the freshest ingredients provide, Dominique exclusively sources from these local small suppliers and friends of his. You could call this “secret” Dominique’s daily “tour de force!”
In our opinion, there isn’t a single concept as similar, as unique, or as simple as La Merenda’s in the world of cuisine. This is the real secret to La Merenda’s success: the food is simple, unique, but always comforting, “just like at home.”
Now you, too, can receive the very same products Dominique loves, and that made La Merenda’s reputation so distinguished, beloved, and admired— from the very own comfort of your home!
Just like at farmers market, you can browse along, make your choice, and have the type of comforting feast that can only be found with friends, family, and loved ones.