Restaurant review: Pjazza – Italian cuisine at its best

16 05 2015

Pjazza - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Pjazza was opened in Autumn 2014 providing Italian cuisine in quite impressive facilities. Restaurant area consists of several dining spaces like main dining room, loft above dining room, so called boulevard right after main entrance and small round table.

New Bepop Bar & Lounge was just opened on Ascension Day Eve providing better use for separate space. There is also VIP Lounge available and if you need Ballroom or seminar room, G18 is rented by Pjazza. And new terrace when ever the weather allows dining outside.

First visited the newly opened bar and tried Aperol Spritz. It is the best drink to review bar drinks and Pjazza did good job.

One interesting detail is that bar offers some snacks on Friday between 17-19. Typical for Italian bars, but not before in Finland.

Aperol Spritz at Pjazza

Pjazza personnel - reijosfood.com

On Sunday you can enjoy brunch buffet and what is definately welcomed speciality, live jazz three times a week! Even during brunch you can listen live jazz, which makes event lively and distinguish Pjazza from other brunch spots.

Pjazza bar - reijosfood.com

Menu consists naturally of Italian dishes. You can start the dinner with Antipasti, continue with Primi Piatti (pasta), enjoy Secondi (traditional Italian meat or fish) for main course and finalize ensamble with Dolci (dessert). But what differs Pjazza from other Italian cuisine restaurants in Helsinki?

Pjazza dining room - reijosfood.com

If you like to eat pizzas then you must try Pjazza. Dough used is left to rise for a minimum of 72 hours, and even up to 96 hours. And you can order all pizzas glutein-free. Nowadays quite necessary option. Tried neighbours pizza and it was one of the best in Helsinki.

First you are served some just baked bread with olive oil. One good example of Pjazza’s commitment to Italian cuisine. And when it comes to red wine you can buy a bottle of it with the price of 29€. And this time I mean wine is not basic carrafe wine, it is definately better than basic red wines you might think to be drinked.

Bread. olive oil and wine - reijosfood.com

For starter had Affetati Italian Misti Cold cuts including ham and salami. Especially liked procioutto cotto, which was delicious and fresh without any ham fat. Perfect starter as also olives were small and tasty with stones.

Antipasti at Pjazza - reijosfood.com

For main course decided to taste pasta, as it is best proof of capability of providing Italian kitchen for customers. Chose FETTUCINE GAMBERI E ZUCCHINI Fettucine with prawns, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and garlic.

What were pleasant surprises?

First of all pasta was al dente, which is not the case typically in Finland. People prefer unfortunately over cooked pasta. Then there was big king prawn included in the portion, which made the dish perfect. One of the best pastas available in Helsinki.

Pasta at Pjazza - reijosfood.com

Had to try Tiramisu for dessert. It is the only Italian dessert I can really compare. And Pjazza survived perfectly!

Excellent serving bowl, which completed enjoyment.

Tiramisu at Pjazza  - reijosfood.com

Food at Pjazza is excellent. If you are friend of Italian kitchen, then you go to this restaurant.

Maybe it is due to personnel working at Pjazza enabling Italian flavors really to carry the country on to your table.

And take a look at wine list. One of the best red wines is really under 30€ per bottle. Tasted also pinot grigio with pasta and it had enough character. Grappa selection is also reasonable. Without that digestive restaurant would not be Italian.

Grappa at Pjazza - reijosfood.com

When summer comes the terrace will be the spot for next dining experience. Improvement from previous a little bit “cold” restaurant is significant. Different spots for different moods. Please prepare to book table in advance.

Pjazza terrace - reijosfood.com

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 4,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 5-/5

etusivu | Pjazza.





Restaurant review: Tony’s deli

9 05 2015

Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Tony’s deli was re-opened in April 2015 after an extensive renovation. Italian cuisine continues to be the main attraction, but restaurant includes now more space due to the new spot at street level.

Main restaurant, Tony’s deli, serves more sophisticated portions like it did in the past.

Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

Lounge diVino with shop has a antipasti buffet and new in restaurant concept, Italian Street bar, is most relaxed, when it comes to athmosphere. There you can order antipasti trays and even listen modern music.

Lounge diVino - reijosfood.com

Antipasti Buffet - reijosfood.com

Tony’s deli (restaurant name) was founded already in 2005, but after some changes in restaurant location and ownership, Ravintolakolmio http://www.ravintolakolmio.fi/ operates it.

First hiccup came when asked recommendation for aperitif and if restaurant has Aperol Spritz. Waitress had to go ask if they have it….. Decided to order Campari soda and glass of house champagne, which was Mumm.

Campari soda - reijosfood.com

Started dinner with Antipasti as in Italian restaurant you should do. Depending on the amount and size of these small Italian snacks, you soon know if you have to skip Primi Piatti, pastas, which are also on menu.

For antipasti had Tony’s delis beef carpaccio with raspberry vinegar, Olives with basil and rocket and Grilled gem lettuce with parmesan and pine nuts.

Beef was tender but taste was covered under sweet vinegar, salt and parmesan. With less of those, this dish would have been excellent. Olives are good example of basic Italian antipasti and Tony’s deli managed well. Gem lettuce could have been more grilled, but it must be difficult to avoid burning of soft lettuce leave.

With starters restaurant serves delicious foccaccia and even gluten-free bread if needed.

Beef Carpaccio - reijosfood.com

Olives at Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

Salad at Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

For main courses ordered Braised entrecote of beef with thyme and red wine sauce and Pan-fried white fish with white wine sauce. For main courses you have to choose side dish from 8 different alternatives. Part of them are the same as starters.

Entrecote was braised well so that grease had almost gone. Only problem was that lettuce was softening in sauce. Suggest to serve it in separate bowl as potatoes for whitefish. Fish was well prepared but maybe side dish suggestion, potatoes, is not the perfect match.

Braised entrecote - reijosfood.com

Whitefish at Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

Wine list is modest consisting mainly from Italian wines. Chose for red wine Chianti which paired well with meat starter and main course. Montiggl riesling instead was dissappointment. Tasted almost like sauvignon blanc and it was served too early. Had to ask ice for it.

Noticed that restaurant offers wine tastings, but if 4 glasses are filled with 16cl at once, what happens to temperature of white wines?

Chianti at Tony's deli - reijosfood.com

Tony’s deli antipasti buffet is the one you must choose, if you visit restaurant. It is most popular among diners. Main courses are of course most difficult to prepare.

As restaurant has been opened month ago, waitering needs still some guidance.

Italian pizzeria music in the background might attract most and main dining room is quite impressive due to glass roof. There are many paintings on the wall’s and Sophia Loren is still on men’s room wall.

Sophia Loren - reijosfood.com

REVIEW: FOOD 3,5/5 – SERVICE 3+/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5

Restaurant Tony’s Deli – Italian restaurant, Helsinki

 





Restaurant review: La Bottega (Tallinn, Estonia)

16 07 2014

Trattoria La Bottega offers a cross-section of the Italian cuisine, with a special emphasis on Italian food and wines consistency. Sardinian origin chef Nicolo Tanda favorites, fish and seafood are represented in restaurants menu.

La Bottega is part of Sparkling Group which owns several fine dining restaurants in Tallinn.

In Italian restaurant you must start the dinner with aperitivo. As Aperol Spritz was not available, we enjoyed Campari Soda’s.

Campari Soda's at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

For starters we ordered Antipasti and Prawn tails in spicy fresh tomato sauce and grilled focaccia.

Antipasti plate was generous including salami, Parma ham, eggplant, bruschetta,…..one of the biggest antipasti portions seen for a while. Tomato sauce with prawn tails was really scrumptious. It could have been used as pasta sauce, on top of a pizza or even to be eaten as such. Best flavor kitchen servedduring our visit.

Antipasti at La Bottega - reijosfood.comPrawn tails at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Primi Piatti, or actually pasta, Spaghetti with garlic oil and chilli and Tomato salad with mozzarella buffalo cheese.

Had to order pasta in order to try how kitchen manages. And it managed well; spaghetti was al dente and garlic and chilli tasted nicely. As restaurant does not serve gluten-free pasta ordered caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella) for another Primi Piatti. Genuine Italian mozzarella di bufala beats cheeses made of cow milk.

Spaghetti at La Bottega - reijosfood.comMozzarella and tomato at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Main courses this time were Herb marinated quail with oven baked eggplant and Braised rabbit in white wine and olive sauce, potato-spinach puree.

As La Bottega had quite challenging and rare meats on it’s a la carte list, had to try couple of them.

Two small quial legs made us mention to waitress that portion should be starter. The answer was separate side dishes are because of that. You have to choose them with certain portions. We had ordered two side dishes; Baked aubergine with garlic and parsley and Rucola and tomato salad. Unfortunately quail legs were also a little bit dry and should have been starters, with or without side dish.

Rabbit included side dish but rucola salad paired nicely with it. Meat was overdone, otherwise it tasted like rabbit should be.

Quail at La Bottega - reijosfood.comRabbit at La Bottega - reijosfood.comSide dishes at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Wine list consists only of Italian wines. We chose Gavi di Gavi Fossili which paired well with all dishes. The dinner was finalized with Italian digestives, Grappa and Limoncello, of course. Taste of lemon was quite thin in Limencello and the color was not so deep yellow as it should be.

Espresso and grappa at La Bottega - reijosfood.comGreen tee and Limocello at La Bottega - reijosfood.com

Dining rooms are cozy and first one behind entrance is really high in old historic building. We arrived so early that dinner time had not yet started.

La Bottega dining room - reijosfood.com

If weather allows you can also have lunch at the terrace; why not even dinner if evening is warm. Terrace is also perfect place to observe by-passers and other terraces close to La Bottega‘s one.

La Bottega terrace - reijosfood.com

La Bottega is good Italian restaurant with ambitious menu. No pizza’s which of course prune customer base. But you get a chance to eat in more peaceful athmosphere than in many pizzeria/trattoria type of restaurants in Old Town. When it comes to food, would classify La Bottega as ristorante but based on decor more trattoria type.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://labottega.ee/





Restaurant review: Toscanini

25 05 2014

Campari Soda at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Toscanini has received its relaxed atmosphere from Tuscany, Italy. Menu is based on essential elements of Italian kitchen, such as olive oil, herbs, tomatoes and Tuscan cheeses and cold cuts. In addition, bread is baked daily by restaurants own baker, or is it?

Location is perfect, almost opposite of Svenska Teatern and Stockmann. Famous BW- restaurants, Gaijin and Boulevard Social are neighbors. Being part of Klaus K hotel means that many of the dining customers also enjoy luxorious hotel premises. Design hotel with white decoration in the lobby. Klaus K and it’s restaurants were recently acquired by Kämp Group which might have been the reason for lame service.

Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Because of excellent weather we had late lunch at the terrace. No one wants to eat in as you can see from the picture above.

Started lunch with Campari Sodas which is always appropriate way to lead to the right mood. Bread basket came right away after ordering; foccaccia was not as fresh as it should have been, but tapenade was delicious.

Bread basket at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Lunch started with Antipasto variety for two including two type of salami’s, parmesan cheese, small olives, artichokes, grilled sweet peppers and mushrooms.

If restaurant is Italian, it can not flop in serving traditional Italian starters. Nor did Toscanini. Everything on the plate was perfect, fresh and you could imagine to be in Tuscany.

Antipasto at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

For main courses we had Sautéed fillet of cod with seafood flavoured Nerone rice and Braised lamb neck with fried lemon polenta and Marsala sauce.

Unfortunately these portions brought us back to Helsinki and Bulevardi. Cod was way too much over-salted but shrimps and octopus pieces in rice compensated a little bit. Lamb was tender but dry and it seemed that salt had been completely forgotten. Wonder if polenta had been prepared at the restaurant kitchen, because it tasted and felt like industrialized product?

Cold at Toscanini - reijosfood.comLamb neck at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

Service was this time the weakest link. We have been at Toscanini several times before, but now there were too many failures.

We had to order mineral water twice, had to remind waiter to bring wine glasses (soave and chianti of course) we had ordered and never got menu back again in order to be able choose desserts. Therefore just ordered coffees and chardonnay grappa. As I wrote earlier company has new owner, which may have impacted to the service, if employees are worried about restaurant’s future.

Toscanini used to participate in Taste of Helsinki, but not this year. Will miss tiramisu they have served there.

Grappa at Toscanini - reijosfood.com

It is always great to eat outdoors, at nice terrace, therefore overall grade is higher.

REVIEW: FOOD 3+/5 – SERVICE 3-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5





Restaurant review: Presto – A mangiare!

29 03 2014

Aperol Spritz at Presto - reijosfood.com

Italian restaurant Presto was opened on the 19th February, 2014. Restaurant concept consists of trattoria, caffe bar, prosecco lounge and shop.

Location is excellent, next to the Espa (Park Esplanade) and in the same building as restaurant Savoy. Presto replaced at the same time restaurant Katsomo, which used to serve Savoy theatre customers.

You can find traditional Italian dishes from the a la carte list like bruschetta, pasta, risotto and pizza. One speciality are mozzarella starters, which are served on a wooden plate with side dishes like salami, bresaola or parma ham.

Best way to evaluate the level of Italian kitchen in Finnish restaurant is to try those traditional dishes.

Started the dinner with Aperol Spritz, glass of Prosecco and excellent Focaccia, which was served after placing the order. First restaurant in Helsinki in which I have seen serving Aperol Spritz as aperitif and it is on the drinks menu. Unfortunately it was too dry, not enough Aperol.

Foccacia at Presto - reijosfoo.comAperol Spritz at Presto - reijosfood.com

Continued with Italian trattoria dishes and ordered for starters Bruschette with Bresaola and from Mozzarella bar Mozzarella di Bufala with artichokes and olives. We did not choose any cold meats with Mozzarella, as we had Bresaola with traditional bread.

Bruschettas were excellent and pieces of Bresaola tender. Could not be better in Italy. Also Mozzarella with side dishes was enjoyable. Soft and moist cheese comes from Italy; therefore difficult to screw up. Some restaurants use mozzarella made from cow milk and that is inexcusable.

Mozzarella at Presto - reijosfood.comBruschette at Presto - reijosfood.com

For main courses chose Pasta Orecchiette all’arrabiata Pasta with spicy tomato sauce and Salsiccia sausage and Melanzane alla Parmigiana Eggplant casserole.

As pasta’s and one risotto are not listed as “Primi Piatti”, expectation was that they would be enough big to be main courses. Pasta was enough big, but unfortunately it did not meet Italian pasta requirements. Tomato sauce was not enough spicy and it lacked sweetness. Or at least sausages should have been spicy, if sauce was not. Eggplant casserole was luckily delicious which compensated dissappointment is pasta.

Pasta at Presto - reijosfood.comEggplant casserole at Presto - reijosfood.com

Had to try desserts and selected from the list Torta alla Presto Pie of the day and Gelato Self-made ice-creams.

Both were mouth-watering! Lemon pie was really delicous and Peanut ice-cream and Cherry ice-cream one of the best ever tasted. It is possible just to drop by for espresso and dessert, which we shall certainly do.

Lemon Pie at Presto - reijosfood.comIce-cream at Presto - reijosfood.com

Presto claims to be trattoria, not ristorante, which is true. Recommend to ask table downstairs or from the small plateau between ground and second floor. You can see Park Esplanade plus downstairs is anyway more lively. Trattoria is on the second floor. Choose that if you want to eat at more restful dining room.

Prosecco Lounge in the 3rd floor has special hours between 16.00 – 18.00 on work days, but is is mainly reserved for theatre visitors. It was empty when we checked it at about 22.00 on Friday evening. The decor is the same as it was in restaurant Katsomo, not Italian type. If you take a closer look at the figures in the pictures on the wall, you might found some interesting.

Presto - reijosfood.comPresto bar - reijosfood.comProsecco Lounge at Presto - reijosfood.comDecor at Presto Prosecco Lounge - reijosfood.com

If pasta would have been better, Presto would have got 4 for food grade.  Higher overall grade 4+ comes because of nice concept which has not actually existed in Helsinki before, when it comes to Italian kitchen. Reasonably priced fresh and delicious food (most of them) in an relaxed athmosphere.

Wine list is short but again prices for wine glasses are reasonable. Some local, so called Italian restaurants, serve wine from barrels with low prices but the quality of wines is lousy. Presto serves proper Italian wines, no reason not to choose house wines.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://www.ravintolapresto.fi/

https://www.facebook.com/prestohelsinki





Restaurant review: Ristorante Como

13 09 2013

Como - reijosfood.com

Ristorante Como, spacious promising Italian restaurant located on the 2nd floor between shopping centers Forum and Kamppi.

Ristorante Como was established 9 months ago in the same location where there used to be theater restaurant which did not gain on popularity. Therefore dining room is spacious, maybe even too big in order to achieve Italian type athmosphere. On the other hand it is sometimes convenient to be able dine in privacy because in most cases you have to listen what other diners shout because of background noise. Como is owned by same the Tampere based company as Stefan’s Steakhouse (review can be found at reijosfood.com by using search). First Como restaurant was also established in Tampere.

Ordered for starters 6 Antipasti from 9 different alternatives which were grouped in Verdura, Carni and Pesce. Our choises were Pan fried zuccini rolls, Artichoke and mascarpone, Pan fried scallops and water cress, Lemon marinated white fish, fennel, peas and carrots, Prawn tails and endive salad and Prosciutto with melon. 

All antipasti were delicious except artichoke stuff because articchoke did not taste at all, main flavor was mascarpone. Each starter costs 7€ each which would be too much but as you get volume discount by ordering 2 or 3, it makes sense to try them.

Bread basket was brought after antipasti plate which was a mistake. If basket includes Grissinis which should be eaten with aperitif not with starter, it is served too late. In this case waiter forgot to bring bread basket in time. Foccacia was great and olive oil complemented wholeness.

Starter in Como - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.com

Main courses were Pike-Perch pan fried in olive oil, lemon and rocket and Como’s raw sausage and tomato salad. For side dishes (one included in the price) we chose Green salad with olive oil and Potatoes.

Fish was well prepared but too salty. Otherwise it would have earned high scores. Sausage was perfect and even better end result would have been achieved if one side dish would have been Potato, zucchini and spring onion which was on the restaurant web site. Boiled potato did not match so well as for instance potato salad would have.

Como - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.com

Because portions were not so huge there was room for desserts. Tried Rhubarb with sorbet and Limoncello pie. Desserts should be prepared at the restaurant, but think they were not in this case.

Sorbet was icy, full of “hailstones”. Limoncelle pie was tasty and dessert was well placed on the plate. Something seemed missing, maybe flavor of limoncello should have been stronger.

Como - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.com

Restaurant Como competes toe to toe with best Italian restaurants in Helsinki, would say mostly with Sasso and Gastone. With some improvements in portions Como might be leading restaurant when it comes to Italian food.

When paying the bill we were given gift card which offered one main course for free when purchasing two by end of 2013. Lack of customers or attempt to grow loyal customer base? We might go again to try pizzas because they seemed to be polular and looked promising.

REVIEW: FOOD 3,5/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5

Como - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.comComo - reijosfood.com

You can not find this restaurant on English pages http://www.ravintola.fi/en

http://www.ravintola.fi/como_helsinki





Restaurant review: Sasso

25 05 2013

Sasso

Sasso, we have dined there before reform, but never have had so conflicting opinions as we had this time.

Royal Restaurants Ltd make up one of Finland’s largest private enterprise in the restaurant field with 27 restaurants in 21 locations. One of them is North Italian kitchen restaurant Sasso which Palace-Kamp Group sold to Royal Restaurants early 2013. After restoration Sasso was re-opened on 1st of May for May Day lunch.

Sasso chef Eero Vottonen, chef of the year 2012, was hired from Michelin restaurant Luomo. Ambitious objectives for the kitchen, obviously. Restaurant and its widened terrace are located in Pohjoisesplanadi 17 in Torikorttelit. Restaurant Fishmarket downstairs has same address.

Dinner started with Campari sodas and some bread. Butter or margarine had really salty olive groats on it.

Campari Soda

For starters ordered Mortadella di coniglio con ciliegie e pistacchio and Spigola marinata con olive verdi e basilico. Rabbit was confusing because of bitter cherries and salty olive paste, it did not taste at all. Seabass was great, it was ripe although waiter said it would be raw. This portion could also be main course if bigger with new crop potatoes.

For main courses had Salmone all’olio di oliva con carciofi e limone and Vitello ai ferri con asparaghi e pomodori. Again fish was well prepared and tasty. See the position of veal, is the new trend to place food on the other side of plate? Did something forgot from the plate? Veal was like entrecote, too greasy.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Because of small portions we had plenty of space for desserts; Tiramisu and Rabarbero all’arancia con latte di mandorle. Tiramisu was a relief for meat course, delicious and sweet with soft biscuits. Again, see the new trend in placing the food on plate! Almond milk was replaced with sorbet because of milk. Remember that in Spain we got almond milk without cow’s milk.

???????????????????????????????Dessert

Because of totally different views we had to judge meals (meat and fish) separately. Overall grade is 4 because of location and window table we had; opportunity to watch Havis Amanda statue and  Market Square. WInes are mainly Italian but moderately priced. Got first too warm white wine which was replaced without asking, polite gesture.

REVIEW for FISH: FOOD 4/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4/5

REVIEW for MEAT: FOOD 2+/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4/5

http://www.sasso.fi/etusivu (website is still unfinished and only in Finnish)

MantaRestaurant SassoMarket Square








%d bloggers like this: