Italian cuisine is a prominent factor in our restaurant scene, although it's a bit difficult to discern why. We've got a lotta spots that dish up awfully executed pasta dishes just because they can, so the whole 'Italian cuisine' tag is a bit questionable in most cases.
Park Street Trattoria ain't the new kid on the Park Street block anymore. We've heard many different opinions on the place, ranging from good to bad, so we decided it was time to go back and see what everyone's on about for ourselves. They aren't a resto just for show, mind you, they're the real deal when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine. So why the mixed reviews? The YAMU team decided to investigate.
I have to state that I'm no aficionado when it comes to Italian cuisine, but I can tell a good pasta or whatever, from a bad one. Also, the lighting at night is wonderfully romantic, but horrible for photography- so be prepared for some atrocious photos. I will state that the food and place look far more picturesque than what we managed to capture here but our camera died, along with our expectations to get a good photo out of the entire experience.
Their menu's changed since our last visit here. They now include a whole other range of pasta and mains so we stuck to one from each category.
Every table is served a side of complimentary bread and olive oil for dipping. I've been here on one other occasion, and during that time we got a whole range of multigrain and white bread along with soft rolls and even a few breadsticks. I was a bit excited for the bread basket this time, but alas- we first got exactly three slices of baguette.
I felt a bit weird doing this, but I had to ask for more- and ended up being served the same amount again. I'm pretty sure this is because it was a bit later in the night (we went in at around 9:30, and the kitchen closes at 10:30) and they probably ran out by that time. Sigh.
This disgusting photo showcases the portion of Patatine we got as a starter. It costs Rs. 550 and is a great option for finger-food if you're only here to grab a drink. The dish comes piled with fresh, crisp potato wedges with a soft centre. You also get a side of mayo (I think, I might be wrong) and pesto in olive oil for dipping.
While this certainly looks like a smaller portion, don't be fooled and get this ahead of your meal like we did because it'll fill you up fast. Then again, if you want to go ahead and plow through- just use your cocktail as an excuse. ;)
I hate this photograph. It looks horrendous, but in fairness, risotto is seldom photogenic. This rather off-putting dish is the Risotto Porcini & Abalone. It's basically a union of the most luxurious ingredients from imported Italian porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and Arborio rice, along with abalone and button mushrooms. What ensued was a magnificent umami symphony with flavour boosts from the truffle oil and abalone+porcini duo.
The rice is soft, but not overcooked- it yielded an excellent texture to compliment the sauce. Don't eat too fast or you'll get too full. It's such a rich dish- you're meant to take your time with it.
If you're a vegetarian, boy, this is your fix. For Rs. 1,900 it's worth every cent.
Our second main was the Arrosticini. This was the pricier option out of the two we got, and clocks in at a cool Rs. 2,220.
You're served two lamb skewers (Australian, if you want to get specific) along with a small salad featuring rocket leaves and tomatoes, a small side of potato wedges, and a mint+parsley sauce. The lamb was tender and whatever it had been marinating in, seeped through delicately.
It was a burst of spice and tang, but not too harsh where it was overpowering. You could still taste the fresh lamby-ness (eloquent, I know) through its flavourful enclosure. Also, make sure you don't douse your lamb in the mint+parsley dip provided because while it certainly adds up in terms of flavour, it's better to have that as a subtle undertone rather than take away from the meat in itself.
The rocket leaves were crisp, and the salad in its entirety was a welcome refresher.
One thing I noticed that was prominent in all their dishes was the subtle use of Worcestershire sauce. I absolutely love the stuff, so I'm not complaining. However, I'm not too sure if Worcestershire sauce holds a prominent place in Italian cuisine. Something to ponder when you're busy chewing on fresh, A-Grade lamb.
Their dessert menu really does the trick of seducing you with all its fancy promises, so naturally, we succumbed and got a classic Tiramisu (Rs. 850).
This is the prettiest photo we managed to take. It's got such great ~aesthetic~ value as well. The tiramisu itself is a big shock of cream at first bite. It's really good, I cannot lie, but it's just far too...creamy. Like, 3/4ths of this bowl was just rich, sweetened mascarpone cream. The ladyfinger layer was very slight and lay hidden at the bottom.
It's a delicious dessert, but I would have loved a bit more cake. The whole thing is topped off with a dusting of Illy coffee and possibly the kiss of an absent-minded Italian nonna. If there even exists such a thing.
Now for the best part: the cocktails.
The one on the left is the Expat. A simple drink. It's a combo of Jim Bean, bourbon, lime juice, orange bitters, and simple syrup. This one was quite refreshing and tart, but towards the end of every sip it'll make you go 'WHOA THAT'S STRONG'. But it'll make you go on sipping- a telltale sign of a good cocktail.
The one on the right is probably the greatest drink I've ever had. I'm not much of a drinker, but never have I ever been so interested in a drink before. For one, it's a tiny serving- just a quarter of a glass and comes with a whole load of ice. It's named the Mexican Squad and is a party of Corralejo tequila, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, Giffard pomegranate liquor, and Angostura bitters.
I don't know how the bartender did it, but he managed to take all these ingredients and make sure each of them had its own layer, so you get a taste of every single ingredient. The taste of pomegranate was evident and overall; this was a wonderful, wonderful treat.
Both cocktails cost Rs. 1100 and Rs. 1000 respectively.
The waiters are extremely professional and polite. Their knowledge of the menu is on par, so feel free to ask any questions. I was a bit perplexed as to what cocktail I wanted to order so I asked our waiter a very vague question with the words 'sour and 'flavourful' being the only keywords he could work with. And whaddayaknow, he delivered. The Mexican Squad I was served was every bit the 'sour and flavourful' drink I wished for.
The place combines rustic elements with a modern touch. It boasts lots and lots of ventilation and natural light during the day. It's a great spot really, it touches on all the good things that a restaurant's ambience should be without trying too hard. The upstairs area is nice and airy with a clear view of the ground floor and the cobblestoned street outside.
Look, I'm not saying this is the best spot for Italian cuisine in Sri Lanka, but their new menu is promising and well curated. So perhaps give them a try, or opt for a cocktail or two instead.
Park Street Trattoria is a great spot at the popular Park Street Mew Stretch. We recommend it if you're looking for a spot for date night!
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