Over a few years, Copenhagen has grown from a city with a traditional gastronomic culture (and, let's say, little fascinating) to a food lover's dream, making Denmark one of the most sought-after destinations for those who love to eat well. It was the city that catapulted New Nordic cuisine to the world, thanks to restaurants like Noma and Relæ, which changed the rules of the game, focusing on a local, regional, and sustainable food.
Chef Christian Puglisi is one of the characters also responsible for transforming the gastronomic scene of Copenhagen by betting on the innovative use of seasonal ingredients of the Nordic larder. When he decided to open Relæ in 2010 on the residential street Jægersborggade, he had no idea that he would revolutionize the neighborhood of Nørrebro - and his career.
Born in Messina, Italy, he arrived in Denmark in the 1990s and attended the Danish Hospitality College. After Relæ, which has a Michelin star, the street has become a hip spot in the city, attracting shops, cafes, and other cool businesses. So Puglisi himself decided to cross the street, to the corner right opposite Relæ, to bet on a modern wine bar, which he named Manfreds. And then he has opted for a bakery (Mirabelle), and an organic, Italian-inspired restaurant (Bæst), and now a vermouth bar (Rudo).
One of the most prominent chefs and businesspeople of Copenhagen's food scene, Puglisi knows the city well before it even becomes a gastronomic mecca. And here, he divides his choices, from fine dining tables to street food.
Fine dining tables
Copenhagen is the city that holds the highest number of Michelin stars in the region, more than in any other Nordic city - Geranium tops the Danish list with three Michelin stars. So the gastronomic level of the city is always high, with fine dining restaurants serving amazing meals.
One of Puglisi's favorites is Jordnær, which, according to him, "brings heart to the plate." Housed in the historical, 350-year-old Gentofte Hotel, the menu merges French traditions and Danish ingredients – most of them foraged by the largely self-taught chef Eric Kragh Vildgaard. "They fought to get where they are, and it's very clearly displayed in the food," says Puglisi.
Gentoftegade 29, 2820 Gentofte
Flavors from abroad
With the highlight of the New Nordic cuisine and the many tourists it has brought to the city, Copenhagen seems to be more open to new concepts, new cuisines. Chef René Redzepi has bet on some of the talents that emerge in his kitchen and given a chance to take them off on their own.
It was with Rosio de Sanchez, Noma's former pastry chef, who has just opened Sanchez, a Mexican food restaurant, where she serves some Mexican classics, such as tacos with a refined touch. “Sanchez is great for her great flavors and vibe. I truly feel I am leaving Copenhagen when I am there," Puglisi explains.
Istedgade 60 · 1650 Copenhagen V
Coffee and breakfast
“I am biased but 99% of my coffees and breakfasts area at Mirabelle - and its pretty damn good”, says Puglisi. His organic bakery and coffee shop is located in the trendy Guldbergsgade neighborhood, and it’s a good option for breakfast, lunch, or just to hang out. They serve from croissants to Danish pastries, and the kitchen also supplies sourdough bread and pizza doughs to all other group places like Bæst, Manfreds, and Relæ.
Denmark, Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København
The quest for sustainability in food scene is also another feature that has become increasingly stronger in Copenhagen. Even small restaurants have sought to include in their menus the maximum of organic ingredients and to follow other environmental-friendly practices.
Even in hamburgers, as is the case with Gasoline Grill, the former gas station turned burger joint. With four units already in town, the focus is on serving good and sustainable burgers. “It is the best burger and best street food in town - AND it’s organic, of course”, Puglisi points out.
Landgreven 10, 1300 København
For traditional Danish food, Puglisi guarantees that Palægade “makes the best Smørrebrød in town.” The "open-faced sandwich" is a local icon and finds its best version (according to the chef) in the kitchen of this restaurant located in the heart of the historic city center of Copenhagen. The young team running Palægade tries to retell the story about the good, classic food traditions of their country, proving that heritage is important.
Palægade 8, 1261 København K
Puglisi also recommends a trip to Søllerød in search of traditional good. “It can also give you something special,”, he assures.
Søllerødvej 35, 2840 Holte