In the latter half of 2013, Santoré was the newest Italian restaurant to join the fray. They've got high quality ingredients, authentic cuisine and a great location at the Tennis Association. We liked them then, and that hasn't changed after our second visit.
When we first checked the place out last year, they were still finding their feet. Now, one year down the line they've ironed out the small kinks and established themselves as one of the major contenders in the local Italian food scene. Authentic Italian food is ominous for being expensive, mostly due to the high quality ingredients that almost always have to be imported. This is where Santoré has an edge on the competition with some pretty reasonable prices, having actually reduced the price of their pizzas over the last year. They've got a very comprehensive list of Italian pizzas priced between Rs. 1350 - Rs. 2000 and pastas between Rs. 850 - Rs. 1300, with a pizza generally being enough for 2 or 3. So expect to pay around Rs. 1800 per head.
Penne con pollo
We got a half shrimp (Rs. 925) - half salami pizza (Rs. 725) and penne con pollo (Rs. 900). The latter is a penne pasta served with tomato sauce, parmegiano cheese and chunks of boneless chicken. We were happy with the dish as a whole but we felt the tomato sauce could have used a bit of sweetness. This is mostly a personal preference since I myself have gotten used to the added sugar in Sri Lankan tomato sauces. The pasta and chicken were both cooked very well, and all in all tasted quite authentic.
We were pretty happy with the fact that the option of having a half-half pizza was available to us, so we went with 2 contrasting flavours in the shrimp and salami (Diavola). One half had shrimp, pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese, while the other had salami, tomato sauce and mozzarella. The pizza was made while we were watching, in a large clay oven, something you don't generally get to experience in most places. The dough had a distinctly pleasant flavour which we couldn't wrap our heads around, so when we inquired from the chef he told us the flavour was from the cinnamon wood used in the oven.
Another thing we appreciated was the fact that the shrimp had been butterflied and had the veins removed before cooking. The shrimp half of the pizza was slightly oily but not in a way that it obscured the flavour, and it was clearly olive oil so you'll hear no complains from us on that. The salami was also of a very high quality, and there was a generous portion of it on the pizza. The slight spiciness of the salami complemented the mozzarella cheese for a great balance of flavours.
Ambience and Service
The Sri Lanka tennis association isn't a place you'd generally expect to find an Italian restaurant, but we found the location to work well with the simple bistro theme at Santoré. They've got outdoor seating as well, so if you enjoy watching a game of tennis, you can do that while you eat.
The service was also quite fast with everything being ready in under 15 minutes. On our earlier visit, the owner (Antonio) was manning the oven but this time around a local chef was running the service. Needless to say he did quite an impressive job. The staff was also friendly and had a good knowledge of all the different ingredients that were on the pizzas.
We're really glad to see Santoré having improved their already high standards over the past year along with reductions in prices, which is a rarity for any restaurant. If you're looking for authenticity and value for money, Santoré is a pretty good bet.