In other oh-no news from Budapest’s Ó utca, I’ve just made my second – and for the time being, last – visit to Il Ristorante, which opened sometime earlier this year in the sleekish space previously occupied by the apparently final incarnation of Segal. Since I live quite nearby, I had been hoping that this would turn out to be a great local spot for mid- to high-end Italian. Unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out that way.
I can’t find any pics from my first visit, which was for a special dinner some months ago featuring summer truffles. To be brief and blunt, aside from a truly lip-smacking dish of green pasta with Limoncello, it was nothing special. Above and below are some pics of what I and two companions had during an unhurried lunch last Friday.
Third from top is a plate of spaghetti al pesto (Ft 1,350/€5), which tasted like it had come from a jar, and was delivered without an offer of extra cheese or fresh pepper, three cardinal sins as far as me and pesto are concerned.
This bowl of minestrone soup seemed to be more Hungarian than Italian. It was also Ft 650 on the menu and Ft 850 on the bill.
At this point in my life I can’t say I am shocked to get a Caesar salad (Ft 1,050) that is slathered in mayonnaise, or which otherwise bears little or no relation to the original. But I’m still bummed.
The three mains were all improvements on the appetizers, but none was particularly compelling. Saltimbocca (spelled “Salto in bocco”, Ft 1,550) should be a cutlet (preferably veal) topped with prosciutto and sage. This one just had the wine and sage, and I’m not even sure the sage was sage. The Ricotta stuff-chicken (Ft 1,650) was pretty good, but nothing special, as was the Cotoletta Bolognese, a.k.a. fried slice with ham and cheese and tomato sauce, also Ft 1,650. For sides, we all got a mixed veggie thing that tasted suspiciously – though perhaps not surprisingly – like plain ‘old lecsó.
As with the soup, there again seemed to be a small discrepancy between the menu and bill prices for these last two items. But for some reason I think this is more a sign of disorganization than any organized attempt to fleece customers, as the white wine we had was a quite reasonable Ft 200 a deci, and the San Benedetto they force bubbly-water drinkers to buy a non-extortionate Ft 350 a (small) bottle. Service-wise, it was all very subdued and lax, despite the almost complete absence of other diners.
So all in all, not the worst place to have on the block. But also no reason to make the trip, even if you already live there.