One of the things I was most looking forward to in Nice was finally being able to try “Socca” a local unleavened chickpea pancake that I had read a lot about on D’s blog and had become moderately obsessed with trying!
Whilst there are many theories as to the origins of Socca, it is belived most likely to have originated in Genoa (where it is known as farinata) and made its way to Nice in the 19th century with the arrival of Genovese carpenters, bought to work in local shipyards by the Napoleonic army. To this day, many regional variations exist from the Tuscan torta di ceci to the Sardinian faine, even cropping up in far flung countries, like Argentina and Uruguay, who saw mass immigration from Italy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Chez Pipo is very much a part of this rich culinary history; they have been serving socca since they opened in 1923, and have a big local following amongst Nicois people of all ages, from all walks of life. Over the years they have expanded the menu to include other Nicois specialities such as Pissaladiere and Pan Bagnat, however I was there for the Socca alone (I had another lunch venue in mind!)
I had arrived shortly after opening and managed to snag a prime table on the terrace where I settled in with the obligatory glass of chilled rose (3.20 Eu) whilst I waited for the wood burning oven to warm up and the first Socca of the day to be prepared.
As I was still planning on having lunch later in the afternoon I decided just to have the single portion of Socca (2.90 Eu) which was the perfect portion size for snacking on, freshly prepared and piping hot from the oven.
For some reason I had been expecting the Socca to be thicker and spongier but it was in fact a bit more like a crepe (obviously had I have googled it I would have seen that it is described as an unleavened pancake!) I love chickpeas so the flavour was perfect for me, especially with the lovely smokiness from the wood fired oven. A good crack of black pepper & a pinch of salt was all that was needed and I ate my socca very contentedly indeed, happy to be enjoying a real Nicois experience!
I definitely wasn’t going to leave without a few photos of the kitchen….. I would have thought they’d be used to this by now from all the times D has visited but they still seemed surprised at my interest – that famous French nonchalance in action!
I loved Chez Pipo and would really recommend a visit when you are in Nice. It is located just a stones throw from the port in Nice Old Town so it is the perfect place for a late afternoon stroll and apero before dinner, definitely worth checking out!
Address: 13 Rue Bavastro, 06000 Nice, France
Hours: Open daily 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10PM
Phone: +33 4 93 55 88 82