What we had
Simple and romantic spot with great Italian fare
Opened by the same owners who started the Bavarian, this new Italian venture located where the Off The Hook once was, opened in December and has become quite popular for its authentic Italian fare and simple elegant surroundings. With indoor and outdoor seating, this establishment has some pretty strong date night qualities. The establishment sports an authentic wood fired oven, and a bar with an exposed brick wall as well as several creatively racked up wine bottles on the wall. The outdoor seating is spacious with fairy lights running across the top for a whimsical touch. If you’re looking for a simple yet romantic place to wine and dine this is a solid option for you!
Aranchini (LKR 480)
Though the portion of the starter was sizeable, with 4 hefty mounds drizzled with a fresh tomato and basil sauce, the Aranchini was a little mushy in texture and in terms of flavour, was bland. The dish could have done with more chicken and mushroom, seasoning and maybe some cheese. However the sauce helped it out a fair bit – punchy, bold and fresh, it was a necessity.
Minestrone (LKR 420)
Obviously, since we rarely come across minestrone here in Sri Lanka, we had to try this. A punchy tomato soup, this is ideal for a cold day, mixed in with rice and plenty of veggies like carrots, peppers, celery and beans, this soup could be quite filling and incredibly healthy. Obviously tasting very fresh, with the tang of tomato being at the forefront of the flavours this soup was like a very bodacious hug in a bowl.
Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce (LKR 1300)
The ravioli portion was relatively small (you get 5 plump pieces), but the pasta was soft with just the right amount of chew to it, and the smooth, soft and sweet filling was reminiscent of a pumpkin pie without all the sugar. The Gorgonzola sauce though lacking in quantity was a good contrast to the sweet filling – the sharp, nutty and slightly ripe taste of the blue cheese gave the dish a funkiness, slightly fermented tasting punch that was much needed. We would have preferred to have more sauce and more ravioli but this dish was nicely balanced and had an interesting flavour combination, especially for the adventurous. However, if you’re hungry or a big eater, this might not be the best dish to opt for.
Quite delightfully when we ordered our pizza we were offered a choice of 2 crusts, a thin crust or a Neapolitan crust, which was described as an authentic Italian style crust that was raised on its edges. Intrigued by this, we decided to try both crusts.
NEOPOLITAN STYLE CRUST
Neapolitan (LKR 1150)/Margherita (LKR 1450)
Originating from Naples, the pizzas are known for their raised, soft, airy, slightly charred crusts, in an effort to try as many flavours as we could, we decided to go half-and-half on this pizza, and try their Margherita along with the Neapolitan pizza. The Neapolitan pizza was strewn with salty delicious chunks of anchovy, pearls of juicy capers, and slivers of fresh, herbaceous oregano. Strong in flavour, this pizza has a bold, strong flavour that work well with the mild stretchy mozzarella cheese. The Margherita pizza was simple with just tomato fresh mozzarella and basil. The mark of a good pizza place is often how well they can do the simplest dishes, and this was delightful! They were generous with the fresh mozzarella, which was gooey and stretchy and the basil and tomato gave the pizza a freshness and brightness that made it feel healthy and light. The crust held together well at the centre where it was thin and soft, and the airy charred outer crust was crisp on the outside and soft, airy and chewy on the inside.
Homemade Pork Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella, Grana Padano (LKR1790)/Spicy Italian Chorizo (LKR 1890)
The thin crust pizza was slightly crisper that the Neapolitan style crust and didn’t have a raised crust but it tasted just as good. Holding together well under the weight of the toppings, it was covered in a generous layer of cheese and sauce. Deciding to go half-and-half on this pizza as well, we opted for the pork sausage and the chorizo. The homemade pork sausage was plentiful and well-seasoned and every bite had meat on it. The roasted peppers were soft and sweet, and the grana padano offered a sharpness to the whole experience. The spicy Italian chorizo was salty, sweet and ever so mildly spicy, the cured discs of meat were plentiful and clearly of excellent quality. The chorizo discs were crispy on the edges from the heat in the pizza oven and the fat released from it spread across the cheese making you lick your lips. If you’re a fan of your meaty pizzas either one of these are a solid choice – or go for both like we did!
Tiramisu (LKR 660)
The tiramisu (meaning ‘pick me up’ in Italian) at first bite wasn’t fully saturated with the custardy mascarpone cream and espresso, and I’ll chalk this up to the fact that it seems to have been freshly made and didn’t have enough time to saturate the sponge. But something about it had us shovelling spoonfuls into our mouths, the delicate sweet cream was custardy, creamy and only slightly sweet. This and the soft airy sponge mingled well with the bitter espresso – the flavour was simple and familiar and incredibly comforting. Disappearing fast, this tiramisu lives up to its name and is most definitely a good ‘pick me up’.
Spacious and simple, the establishment emitted a welcoming and relaxing vibe. With warm lighting, simple white linen table settings, exposed brick walls and wooden furniture, the establishment exuded an air of elegance whilst also lending to its charming Italian bistro aesthetic. On the far end of the restaurant is where they had their big wood fire pizza oven so that you can witness your pizzas being made right before your eyes. The Bistro also boasts a selection of cured meats and cheeses on display in glass cases, as well as shelves stocked with imported Italian items like dried pastas, nuts, oils and sauces for sale at pretty reasonable prices.
The service here was friendly and attentive, the staff knew their menu well and were patient and confident in their recommendations. The night we went on was busy, but the service remained spot on, though the wait for the food was roughly 20 minutes. After that initial wait, the food came out fast , warm and beautifully presented.
Tip – The pizza is a winner, whatever flavour you opt for, but a personal favourite was the Spicy Italian Chorizo.