Colombo lacks a really good Italian eatery. Echo and Bayleaf do their best but never quite reach la dolce vita. It’s really a bit of of an anomaly. Things are looking up in the big city, new restaurants open on a regular basis and CMB is getting more cosmopolitan daily but Italian food just isn’t as well represented as it should be.
Where the capital fails however there are instances when the provinces shine. The South with its beach-swarming tourists and reasonably large expat-Italian community is home to quite a few places run either by Italians or natives with a flare for making Italian food.
Spaghetti and Company is one of the oldest Italian-run joints on the coast. But while its been serving the tourist hoards Italian alternatives to cheese rotti and kottu for more than a decade it remains largely undiscovered by locals. This is a real shame as it’s honestly one of the country’s best Italian restaurants(sadly, this isn’t saying too much).
There’s an extensive selection of homemade pasta, antipasti, raviolis and pizza and with the Italian owners usually present the food is always authentic. It’s also inexpensive- you get a substantial pizza for Rs 800. Value that blows Harpos, Pizza Hut and Dominoes out of the water.
On our last visit- a vegetarian one due to company, we had a vegetable Calzone (Rs 1000), a primavera pizza (Rs 800) and some spinach/ricotta stuffed ravioli in pesto sauce (Rs 600). The calzone in particular was excellent. Enormous and full of cheese, aubergines, olives and general tastiness it would have left three people absolutely satisfied (at Rs 1000 better value than Kottu). The pizza was light with a perfect thin crust and generous toppings, it could have done with a better tomato sauce but still good enough to give Colombo’s pizza champs, Harpos, a run for their money.
I also enjoyed the ravioli, substantial and bursting with spinach and ricotta, though a harsher critic would point out they were a little too thick, to me that just added homemade authenticity. Basically they serve good home-style Italian food. We aren’t talking the gourmet Italian experience but I’d say the pizza and pasta dishes are as good as any you’ll find in Colombo for lower prices.
You do have to go all the way to Hikkaduwa for it but when you’re next heading south or spending a day by the waves keep this place in mind. The food is good and they have a lovely chilled out bungalow on the land side towards the south of Hikka’s main drag. Perfect after a day on the beach but also good for some more formal down-south eating/entertaining.