2, Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 01
Open 10.00 AM - 11.00 PM
Il Ponte at Hilton is one of the older Italian restaurants in Colombo. It may not be as popular as it was back in the day, but their Italian fare is pretty solid all-round.
Il Ponte at Hilton is one of the older Italian restaurants in Colombo. It may not be as popular as it was back in the day, but their food is still pretty solid all-round, although the setting could use some work.
The last time I was at Il Ponte was back in 2008, and I quite literally forgot about it until I realised that we hadn't reviewed it. Coming back, it seems like nothing much has changed in terms of ambience, at least not for the better. The poolside setting is still pleasant but it lacks the charm it once had. The dining area is plain with generic furniture and nothing else to really emphasise the Italian theme. However, most of the hotel is being renovated, so hopefully this section will follow suit soon.
While friendly and brisk, the service was inconsistent. We found ourselves having to look around for the waiters (who were busy watching the match at times) when we were the only customers.
True to its name, Il Ponte offers a small, almost entirely Italian menu, besides a few oddities like fish and chips. The prices vary widely but we'd recommend Il Ponte for the pizzas, which are quite reasonably priced between Rs 1,100-Rs 2,200 for a large, eight-slice pie. The mains, on the other hand, are definitely pricey in comparison, with most costing upwards of Rs 2,000. That being said, we didn't really come across any major flaws in the dishes we tried.
We started things off with the spicy cheese croquettes (Rs 495), which were well seasoned and crispy with a soft and creamy cheese filling. They were not excessively spicy, but had enough heat to justify the description. These were served with a side of what was meant to be a tomato confit, although I'd say it tasted more like a thick tomato sauce.
The pollo picante pizza (Rs 1,350) was surprisingly large for the price. Considering the flavour and quality of the ingredients used, we'd say it's good value for money. Nowadays, stringy mozzarella pizzas are found mostly just on TV adverts (thanks Pizza Hut -.-), but that's exactly what we got with this one. It came with plenty of roast chicken, a good amount of bell peppers and sautéed onions for added texture. The only minor issue we had with it was that the chicken was a bit dry, but it was seasoned perfectly. With eight substantial slices, this can be shared among two to three people (provided it's not the only thing you order).
Another affordable menu option was the beef lasagna (Rs 1,395), which was actually our favourite dish of the lot. Once again, we got a generous amount of mozzarella baked over a substantial portion of lasagna, which was cooked just right. We also liked the fact that they didn't skimp on the minced beef, which was moist and flavoursome thanks to the tomato sauce. The sauce also added a hint of sweetness, balancing out the flavours nicely.
To wrap up our very Italian meal, we went with the tiramisu (Rs. 695) for dessert. It's still quite tough to find a good tiramisu in Colombo, but Il Ponte's certainly makes a strong claim. The standout element of this tiramisu was undoubtedly the mascarpone cheese, which was light and smooth with the slightest coffee undertone. The coffee hit came through with the cake, which could have been thicker. But the overall flavour was still excellent.
Though it may seem like Il Ponte is old news, their Italian fare is still top notch. They aren't the cheapest place in town and the service has room for improvement, but their pizzas certainly offer good value for money.