I may be in Morocco surrounded by cous cous, tagine and lamb, but the fact is that a restaurant down a dark alley in Marrakech has served up the best pasta I’ve ever had. Pepe Nero is it’s name, and a tiny sign in the crowded Jemaa El Fna souk pointed hungry passersby down a dimply lit side street. After myriad twists and turns down alleys ever decreasing in size and light, we were finally pointed to an unmarked wooden door deep inside the medina walls. When we stepped inside, we were suddenly transported from a grimy alley to a sparkling tiled courtyard. A fountain filled with fiery rose petals tinkled into a rectangular pool, drawing the eye to the riad’s (a riad is a traditional Moroccan home) lovely center. And this was merely the entry hall!
The fountain in the center of the restaurant created a mystical backdrop straight out of the Arabian Nights. Though the restaurant had a distinctly North African look, it served up Italian fare with relish. My quattro formaggi (four cheese) peparadelle was sheer pasta heaven, especially accompanied by a tart, dry Moroccan white wine. Followed by a complimentary selection of Moroccan pastries and a glass of champagne, Pepe Nero is my new favorite restaurant! Guess I’ll just have to fly back to Marrakech now and again to eat there.