Posts for the 'Italian' Category


Rossopomodoro

Rossopomodoro is a chain of restaurants serving Neapolitan cuisine and pizzas. A global operation, Rossopomodoro had its origins in Naples and is a well-recognised brand name in Italy. It has seven branches throughout the UK and in a string of other countries throughout the world.

At the invitation of Rossopomodoro I ventured to both the branches in Wandsworth and Covent Garden. My visit to the Wandsworth branch coincided with ‘RossoMusica’, a singing competition sponsored by Ferrarelle where London-based Italian singers perform and compete for the chance to win the prize of RossoMusica champion. The last of the heats was last week, and the final will be held on Thursday, 26 September 2013. For £10, RossoMusica promises you not only get some good music, one drink and a buffet of pastas and salads, but a night of frivolity as well.

The Wandsworth branch is split over two floors. It is a spacious area with a modern industrial look, and the floor to ceiling glass windows on the ground floor allow in oodles of natural light. On the first floor there is a fabulous terrace area that is perfect for al fresco dining.

The Covent Garden branch by contrast is a little bit more compact and less spacious than the one in Wandworth. Being in Covent Garden, its more hustle and bustle. There is a rather hectic feel to it, but it is also more conveniently placed for the attractions of the West End. There are also some tables outside which allow for a spot of people watching.

Rossopomodoro stays true to its Neapolitan heritage by impressively importing all its ingredients from Naples including items such as the flour used in its pizza bases. The fresh buffalo mozzarella (£15.45) that we ordered came in that day and was delicious, especially with a drizzling of olive oil and fresh basil. Accompanying the mozzarella was some bruschetta with a yummy cherry tomato topping that was fresh, ripe and sweet in that superb Italian way. However, the bread was less appealing as it was a tad bland.

Buffalo mozzarella with bruschetta

Buffalo mozzarella with bruschetta

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Il Teatro and Al Mourjan, Doha, Qatar

On top of my meals at Opal by Gordon Ramsay at The St Regis Hotel and Blue at the Grand Heritage Hotel, I also managed to squeeze in some Italian and some Lebanese food whilst in Doha – all in the space of some 52 hours. Yes it was an extraordinary amount of eating, but I assure you that I did try and work this off with walks along the Corniche and around Doha’s main market, Souq Waqif!!

IL TEATRO

My Italian experience was at Il Teatro Restaurant which is part of the 5-Star Four Seasons Hotel. We went for Sunday lunch which proved to be a very quiet experience as Sunday is the start of the working week in Doha. Il Teatro serves upscale contemporary Italian food in a classically decorated dining room that can only be described as sumptuous. The restaurant backs onto the pristine gardens of the hotel and there is also some outdoor seating.

For lunch, the prices are based on the number of dishes and type of courses you order from the a la carte menu and are as follows:

Starter and dessert – QAR119 (about £22)
Main and dessert – QAR139 (about £25)
Starter and main – QAR159 (about £29)
Starter, main and dessert – QAR199 (about £36)
Starter, soup, main and dessert – QAR239 (£43)

From the starters, the baby octopus in a panzanella salad with focaccia croutons, fennel, tomato and onion was tender and tasty. The leaves were fresh and nicely dressed but were quite cold from having come straight from the fridge. The croutons detracted from this salad as they had not been freshly prepared and were unfortunately stale.

Panzanella salad

Panzanella salad

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Pendolino – Sydney, Australia

Pendolino is a refined upmarket Italian situated in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District. It’s an elegant looking restaurant – very dark, very intimate – the perfect type of restaurant for date night. Be that as it may, it has a welcoming attitude towards children as there were a few dining at the restaurant during our visit. This was nice to see as it’s so rare for such a swish looking venue to be so relaxed about child diners.

Pendolino holds a ‘One-Hat’ (out of a maximum three) from the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s restaurant rating system. The menu makes for a wonderful read, the type that could easily tempt you to over order. There are a range of starters, pastas and risotto that come in both starter and main sizes, mains, and of course dessert. All the pastas are hand-made daily on the premises.

I went to Pendolino with FoodPornNation who has eaten there before and absolutely loves the food. She strongly advocated that we try a starter of Alba style free-range beef carpaccio with truffled white walnut puree, testun di barolo cheese, rocket cress, wild baby olives and handmade rosemary grissini
($24.90, about £16) which was a knockout. The way in which the paper-thin carpaccio melted on the tongue was sheer magic, and the aromatic hints of the truffle were a pure delight. This was a glorious dish that one could easily eat over and over again.

Alba style beef carpaccio

Alba style beef carpaccio

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La Pergola – Three-Star Michelin in Rome, Italy

La Pergola is the only restaurant in Rome to hold three Michelin stars and is probably the most famous restaurant in the eternal city. The restaurant is located on the top floor of the Cavalieri Hotel, which is part of the Waldorf Astoria Group. Perched on a hilltop in the Montemario area, the restaurant affords gorgeous views of Rome and the Vatican.

Executive Chef is German-born Heinz Beck who has been at the helm of La Pergola for the last 18 years. One of the most respected chefs in the world, there have often been attempts to persuade Chef Beck to export his La Pergola brand to cities such as New York and Tokyo in the same way that other famous chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon have done. Thus far, Chef Beck has resisted all calls with the exception of London. Apsley’s at The Lanesborough Hotel is his only subsidiary restaurant.

La Pergola is a magnet for the rich and famous. It famously hosted Michele Obama and Sarah Brown during the G8 summit in 2009, and it was reported that the First Lady claimed that her meal at La Pergola was the best of her life.

Prices are not cheap however, with a six-course and nine-course tasting menu priced at €190 and €210, respectively. Where relevant, the a ala carte prices have been listed in brackets below. Going for the nine-course menu, we started with an amuse bouche of beef carpaccio which was tender and tasty. It came with a hint of coffee powder and a deliciously light cappuccino cream.

Beef carpaccio

Beef carpaccio

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Il Pagliaccio – Two-Star Michelin in Rome, Italy

Anthony Genovese is Chef and part owner of Il Pagliaccio, a two-star Michelin restaurant considered to be one of the best in Rome. Born to Italian parents in France, Genovese began his career on the Cote D’Azur, after which came travels in Asia where he honed his skills before returning to Italy to deliver an eclectic menu at Il Pagliaccio.

Situated in the historical centre of Rome, the restaurant is elegant but feels quite stiff and formal. The doors to the restaurant are kept locked throughout the service, and one must be let out when leaving. There are only about 25 covers and the dining area is quite small.

Il Pagliaccio

Il Pagliaccio

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Rome, Italy – Five Mid-Range Restaurants

After Naples I made tracks to Rome. The wealth of research out there on Roman restaurants is staggering and it would take months to eat at all of them to work out the truly good ones from the not so great. So if you do go to Rome, it’s best to do your research and then hope that your picks are for the best. Anyway here is my round up of five of the mid-range restaurants I tried, some of which proved better than others.

PRIMO AL PIGNETO

Primo al Pigneto was an absolute cracking find. Located in the new grungy/trendy area between via Casilina and via Prenestina in the South East of Rome and away from the tourist hordes of centro storico, it means you have to travel a little. But I assure you the travel was well worth it.

A little taster of a deep-fried meat ball (veal and beef) was amazingly flavoursome. This was followed by a generous starter of warm tagliolini tossed with raw sea bass, lemon peel, coriander and parsley (€15) that was also fabulous. Fresh and aromatic, the fish had been combined in such a way so as to let its freshness sing. Lightly cooked veg of carrots and cucumber running through the noodles gave the dish a hint of crunch.

Meatball

Meatball

Raw sea bass tagliolini

Raw sea bass tagliolini

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