Little Italy in Colombo is a modest little Italian cafe in Wellawatta that opened recently. It's a cozy little space off Marine Drive, serving up Italian staples along with a decent selection of coffees. The food had both highs and lows, but they've got potential if they can iron out the kinks.
Little Italy is quite new, but many people actually refer to it as Caffitaly. However, Caffitaly happens to be a brand of coffee makers which is sort of the sponsor for Little Italy. The cafe itself is small, but not in a way that it feels stuffy. The interior decor is simple but it suits the atmosphere they're going for with wooden furniture, a black and white theme and some decorative window panes. If you prefer a cafe that's private, akin to Charcoal, then Little Italy will likely work for you.
The service is handled by one gent who cooks, prepares the coffee and waits on the tables, all with a smile on his face. There was only one other table occupied at the time we dropped in, but this isn't the kind of place that would get overly crowded. He's also apparently not a newbie to the Italian restaurant scene in Colombo, having worked at Regina Margherita (RIP). We were told that they're planning on setting up a pizza oven on the rooftop which sounds exciting as well.
Little Italy doesn't really look to change up the status quo with either their food or beverage offerings, so you'll find the usual repetoire of coffees and a bunch of pasta dishes as well as more mainstream cafe options like burgers and sandwiches. We wouldn't exactly call them cheap but expect pay around Rs. 800 if you're looking to grab a coffee and a main. One recurring sentiment here was that while each of the dishes had positives, they also had elements which let the dish down in other aspects.
We started off with a cappuccino (Rs. 320) which was quite amicable, all things considered. While I would have preferred slightly less froth, the ratio of espresso to milk was more or less fine, with more emphasis on the former while still retaining that creaminess. They also add a bit of chocolate (or something that tastes very close) on top of the foam which adds a bit of sweetness which actually turned out well.
The preparation of the bruschetta (Rs. 350) was a bit different from what most places serve up. Where others generally go with raw tomato, Little Italy opts for a cooked topping with tomato and basil. On the plus side, cooking it did bring out more from the tomato and the basil. However, it also released a lot of that liquid in the tomato, which in this case seeped into the bread making it soggy. The type of bread didn't really help the cause either since a French baguette (which is the norm) would have retained that crunch longer.
Our main, the carbonara (Rs. 650) fared a lot better. Unlike the bruschetta, they stuck to the classic carbonara recipe with spaghetti, egg yolks, parmesan and bacon. We were actually a bit surprised to hear that there wasn't any added cream, since it was quite creamy. The spaghetti was cooked al dente which added a slight, yet noticeable contrast in textures with the crunch of fried bacon. The seasoning was on the milder side, but nothing a bit of salt couldn't fix. The one minor issue we had here was that the bacon was slightly overcooked but we wouldn't consider it a deal breaker. This is a bit pricey at Rs. 650 but the portion was quite large.
We finished off with their maximilians (Rs. 180), which is a sort of baked patty with chocolate filling. This honestly looked great when they served it up, but it didn't deliver in terms of flavour. The main issue was that the patty was dry and over cooked, which meant the chocolate in the center was more a paste than that decadent oozy texture that we were hoping for.
Little Italy in Colombo is a bit of a mixed bag, but a bit more finesse in the cooking department could see them doing quite well. For the time being, we'd go for the coffee and the pasta.
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