The original language of Nice is called Nissart and it is still used in parts of the Old Town. The roads signs in Old Nice are written twice, in French and Nissart - the Nissart looks a little bit like Italian - a reminder of when Nice was not part of France. Lou Pilha Leva is Nissart for The Take-away.
Lou Pilha Leva is in the heart of the Old Town at a crossroads. The 'restaurant' is a simple serving hatch and there are tables and benches outside. You will need to suss out if you want sunshine or shade; we went in April and managed to catch a bit of welcome sun at the end of a table. It is very simple and basic. You queue up, get served on a tray which you take and sit down - just fill up any spaces at a table, you will probably share with others but that is ok. Drinks are served at your tables by waiters from a bar opposite the serving hatch on the other side of the road. We ordered two lots of drinks over lunch and although normally you would pay the drinks bill at the end, the waiters seemed happier to take payment with each order, which seems sensible enough. I have always wanted to try here as the menu looks excellent value and it is a lively, buzzy place with good scope for people-watching; the world and his wife seem to pass through here. The down side is the queuing. It has always put us off. Today it wasn't too bad plus there were obvious spaces available at the tables - another thing that put me off was the possibility of acquiring food and having nowhere to sit. There is a slight element of people baggsi-ing tables BEFORE queuing up for food, not really fair, but utterly understandable. In fact, we did this ourselves - the husband queued (briefly, only two in front) and the daughter and I sat down. To make it look better, I caught the eye of a waiter and got the drinks in quick so that we felt were legitimate paying patrons. It does state on the board that you must buy a drink if you intend to sit and eat your food rather than take it away - 'boisson obligataire en terrasse'.
Favorite Dish: I had a Nicoise Salad, it was fresh and bright and a big plate full. There was plenty of tuna, egg, peppers, tomatoes etc and even the lettuce was nice - sometimes it can be a bit manky in these salads, but I could have eaten every scrap (as usual) It also came with a bread roll so it felt even better value at 7 euros. The daughter had a chicken Panini - an Italian toastie (her second choice as they had run out of ham and cheese!) and the husband had sardine fritters called beignets. I had 2 coffees, good value at 1, 10 euros each and the husband had a beer - there was a good selection of continental beers from 3-5 euros. The drink prices are written up clearly all over the outside of the bar; likewise the food prices are clearly marked up on large boards surrounding the serving hatch. The food is cheap and cheerful with portions of Socca (chickpea flour savoury pancake - delicious) for 2 euros, paninis for about 3, 50 euros, salads and various nicoise fast-food specialities like beignets sardines - battered or fritterd sardines about 4-5 euros a portion. A Pan Bagnat, another nicoise speciality which is basically a large bread roll stuffed with Nicoise Salad, is only 3, 50 euros. It is a popular place so you need to choose your time or not mind queuing. Plenty of French seem to eat here which I always take as a good sign; mind you they are likely to be tourists themselves rather than locals. A half-litre of local wine is about 4-5 euros and a bottle of Cote de Provence rose wine is 12 euros. Nice food, and if you can't get a table get a take-away Pan Bagnat and have a picnic on the beach or up on Castle Hill.
My husband and I read restaurant reviews of Lou Pilha Leva by other tourists visiting Nice, France that recommended the reasonably priced, tasty fare. We decided to try the restaurant for ourselves on Nov 1, 2008. The results? Unbelievably awful! We will never eat there again or suggest this restaurant to anyone. (In fact, I write this review as a public service. You have been warned.)
Who cares how inexpensive the food is if you cannot eat it? I ordered "moules frite", ie., steamed mussels with french fries on the side. The mussels were totally inedible and I left them (minus the 3 that I had sampled) in their bowl. They had been overcooked earlier in the evening and were now rubbery with a dried out exterior. Having eaten the same dish at Pecherie Saleya where they were delicious 3 days earlier, I knew what they should have tasted like. What surprised me was that the kitchen staff knew that they should have been thrown out but instead they had clearly been instructed to serve them to tourists. The volume of tourist business is so great that the restaurant can afford to serve lousy food and lose customers (who are overwhelmingly tourists, not locals.) Bottom line - you are a sucker if you eat at Lou Pilha Leva.
Just got back from Nice and lunch at Lou Pilha Leva. We were terribly disappointed to have been charged for 2 drinks and one dish which we did not order for a total of 7 extra euro on the bill. When you consider that the total bill was 27 euro, this is quite a substantial overcharge. I speak French fluently so it was not a question of the cashier not understanding me. You order at the counter and you are told the total amount and you pay and then you get your receipt. Unfortunately, I did not check my receipt until I was at the airport several hours later (shame on me!) so I could not do anything about it. The food was good but the blatant ripping off of a tourist has turned me off to this place. I urge you to be careful if you do eat there.
Sort of local cuisine fast-food, so don't expect much. The queue is usually long, especially in the summer.
Favorite Dish: Their crispy socca used to be delicious. The last time I've been here their socca was awful! It looked like a crepe (not crispy at all!!!) and the borders were burnt. One portion: 2 Euros. Pepsi: 2,50 Euros.
If you want a table, you have to order drinks.
Piece of advice: Before choosing a table, look up and see if there are no potential places above for pigeons or not potential pigeon at ALL Pigeons are usually good at shooting!!!! LOL!!!
Wonderful authentic nicoise basic dishes. Wonderful in the summer to sit (and sweat) outside and enjoy socca (local pizza) and enormous quantities of vino! Located in the heart of old Nice.
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