Saturday, May 5, 2012

Keeping it Classy

A look at two restaurants with a stylish touch in the UNYP neighborhood

By Baia Dzagnidze

This month’s column focuses on two restaurants with  elegant interiors. Located close to each other, Don Ciccio and Royali offer international cuisine, as well as some Croatian, Russian, Uzbek and Ukrainian specials on their daily menus.

Don Ciccio
  • Type: Restaurant
  • Address: Londýnská 29
  • Open Hours: 10 a.m. –  11 p.m. daily
  • Special Offers: Daily specials starting at 119 CZK, served 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Cuisine: International
  • Price: Starters from 79 CZK, Main meals from 170 CZK
  • UNYP Benefits Program Member: No
  • Web page: None
Located one stop from I.P Pavlova, Ristorante Don Ciccio offers international cuisine along with special meals from Croatia such as Pljeskavica (a grilled dish made from a mix of lamb, beef, pork or veal)

Pleasant environment
The restaurant has a terrace open during the spring and summer in front of the main entrance. Inside, it divides into two parts – the left side for nonsmokers, and the right for smokers. The stylish design creates a pleasant atmosphere and a nice place to have lunch.

The weather was good on a recent visit, so my friends and I chose to sit on the terrace, where we were given menus right away. Although the restaurant was only half full, it took the waiter another 10 minutes to finally take our drink and meal orders.

The menu offers a big variety of international cuisine, along with many typical restaurant dishes such as Caesar salad, various Italian meals, steaks, risotto and fish. What makes Don Ciccio interesting is the daily specials offer. Every day, there are three different combinations of soup and a main course. On the day of our visit, the specials were tomato soup and Greek salad for 119 CZK; minestrone and gnocchi with spinach for 129 CZK; and lentil soup and grilled pork ribs with baked potato for 149 CZK. The prices for all of those seemed quite reasonable for two courses.

My choice was the minestrone soup and gnocchi with spinach. The soup came a bit warm with plenty of vegetables, including tomato, potato, paprika, celery, two kinds of beans, zucchini and carrot. Although the typical Italian recipe calls for thick stock, my soup was far from having any kind of denseness; instead it was very brothy, like an ordinary soup. The vegetables were diced and lightly cooked.

Gnocchi with spinach
The main dish was delivered shortly after the soup, presented in a large bowl. The gnocchi itself was well-cooked, very soft and light. It included a decent amount of spinach, also well-sautéed in a creamy white sauce. Flavors of parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic came through in the sauce without weakening the taste of the spinach. Definitely, it was the best gnocchi dish I have ever had.

Overall, the service was good, though it took a bit of time to place our order. However, the waiter was quite polite during the meal, smiling and asking if everything was fine or if we wanted something else. 

Don Ciccio is a very good lunch venue, because the daily specials offer two courses for a good price, and the meals are very well-cooked and presented. However, ordering something from the main menu can get pricey and excessive for a student budget.

  • Type: Restaurant
  • Address: Šafaříkova 18
  • Open Hours: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday
  • Special Offers: None
  • Cuisine: International
  • Price: Breakfast from 69 CZK; Salads from 115 CZK; Main courses from 135 CZK
  • UNYP Benefits Program Member: No
  • Webpage: http://www.royali.cz/
While searching for another restaurant for this column, I came across Royali’s web page, which looked really nice. However, pictures can be deceiving!

One of the deceptive web photos
Upon arrival, my friend and I saw immediately that it was not what we expected. First, the restaurant seemed smaller than it looked in the pictures. Second, there was no one to greet us and lead us to a table; the only free one had a cigarette pack and smoked cigarettes in the ashtray. As we hesitated to sit there, somebody from another table told us that the table was free. That was the start of an unpleasant lunch experience.

After 5-10 minutes, we were finally given a menu, but the dirty ashtray remained. It took the waiter another 10 minutes to clean the table and take our order. The restaurant, if I can call it that, offers international cuisine that includes local as well as post-Soviet specials such as Ukrainian chicken Kiev, Uzbek Plov, and typical Russian soups. Overall the prices were very reasonable, though not enough to compensate for the bad service and atmosphere.

Caesar Salad
I chose a Caesar Salad for 135 CZK, which consisted of lettuce, chicken, bacon, croutons and parmesan cheese, garnished with three slices of cucumber and tomatoes. After waiting for our meal approximately another 10 minutes, the salad arrived on a big plate, missing one ingredient – bacon. Also, it had very little dressing, making half of the salad dry. The chicken was well-grilled and seasoned with salt and paper, but the croutons were too dry, as if they had been baked without oil and oregano.

From the very beginning, the service was definitely not satisfying; our waiter was disorganized and late with our orders. We left with the impression that Royali is a place for close friends who don’t care about the small details that made our lunch such an unpleasant experience. Definitely not recommended!

No comments:

Post a Comment