Food in Monaco is influenced by its idyllic location and access to the seasonal produce abundant in the rolling landscapes of the Cote d’Azur. The favourable climate and fusion of French and Italian influences are apparent in everything from Monegasque aperitifs to desserts. Besides the Principality’s numerous high-end restaurants, bars and patisseries, you can also find Monaco specialities in smaller shops and markets.
Barbaguan is a small savoury snack comprising puff pastry filled with Swiss chard, ricotta, leeks, garlic and herbs. In the Monegasque language, Barbaguan means ‘Uncle John’ (or Jean) and its creation is attributed to someone of that name who improvised when he didn’t have sauce for his ravioli. Legend says he stuffed it with Swiss chard and fried it, and the crisp, tasty treat has been popular ever since. In fact, it is so popular that it’s become Monaco’s national dish and is eaten daily as an appetiser and with gusto on Monaco’s National Day (19th November). You can also find other variations of Barbaguan fillings such as rice, onions and parmesan.
Socca is a popular street food in Monaco and it is a ubiquitous presence at markets and roadside stalls. The thin crêpe was originally from Nice, but the Monegasques have taken to it so it’s virtually a national dish now. Cooked on a round griddle with just olive oil and pepper, it’s a blank culinary canvas for adding herbs. Serve it warm and pour a glass of rosé to accompany it on the balcony of your Monaco property. Socca’s an ideal gluten-free snack as it is made with chickpea flour. It is also high in protein and fibre; not to mention vegan-friendly.
The most recent Monaco speciality is a premium liqueur made from oranges grown on Monaco’s very own boulevards. L’Orangerie Monte-Carlo a 100% Monegasque-made alcoholic drink that connects Monaco’s almost-forgotten agricultural heritage to the sophisticated and cosmopolitan city-state it has become. L’Orangerie is an all-natural hand-crafted liqueur with no added colours or preservatives. It comes in an eye-catching Art Deco style bottle, which perfectly captures the old-style glamour of the Principality. It should be enjoyed chilled on its own or as a cocktail, perhaps with Prosecco.
There is only one brewing house in Monaco, but it has established itself with a world-class reputation. The Brasserie de Monaco is located in a prime position on Port Hercules and has a history that spans more than a century. It produces luxurious organic beers which have earned a loyal following of locals and travellers alike.
The bar has a happy hour from 6-8pm and adds nice touches like a casino chip coaster to place your beer on. This Monaco speciality comes in three styles: pilsner, wheat and red fruits. All are made on site and can be served with food in the restaurant or enjoyed on the harbourside patio. If you can’t make it to Monaco, the beers are also served at the tables of Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury hotels and other select establishments worldwide.
Chocolaterie de Monaco
Food in Monaco doesn’t get any more delicious than its sweet treats. Located in Monaco-Ville near the Oceanographic Museum, the Chocolaterie de Monaco is an institution that has been open since 1920. In 1999 it was granted a royal warrant as a supplier of the Prince’s Palace. Indeed, they take their connections to royalty very seriously and many of the chocolates have a royal theme with collections dedicated to Princess Grace and Princess Charlene. Other collections give a nod to Monaco’s other associations, such as the Grand Prix and Casino.
Fillings include everything from praline to strawberries, champagne, and caramel and all the products are exquisitely packaged, making them ideal gifts. Although it’s a Monaco speciality, chocolate production had to move to Italy to make more room for all the amazing products they offer. The Chocolaterie sells the chocolates and operates a tea room where, naturally, the hot chocolate is the speciality.
Originally from Provence, fougasse is a bread that now comes in several different versions. The Monegasque fougasse is a sweet-tasting brioche that is popular at Christmas. It is covered in red and white aniseeds, almonds and raisins before being baked and finally sprinkled with orange blossom water or orange juice and powdered sugar. La Condamine Market is the best place to discover Monaco specialities such as socca, barbaguans and fougasse.