Set in a contemporary, fresh environment, Popolo is one Lebanon most recent Italian restaurants. The interior of Popolo is stunning, with high arches, creative wall doodles, a wood-topped stone counter that runs the length of the interior. It's fresh and inviting with an open view of the kitchen.
Located in Ain Mreiseh with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea, Popolo is an open space where you can see your pasta and pizza being prepared…
The menu is interesting. Made of fabric and imprinted with the Popolo logo, it proposes items to share (a centro tavola), antipasti, insalate, pizze, paste, carni e pesci, I dolci, bevande. DInner starts with a paper bag filled with fresh olive oil focaccia. Dip it in olive oil and balsamic and let the enjoyment start.
Choose between pizza, pasta, risotto, fried starters, seafood, meat and salads. On the table are the week's specials: San Daniele salad, frog legs, foie gras raviolone, salmon and spinach calzone.
On the menu you can read:
- S for small plate
- L for large plate
A beautiful space...
- Patatine Al Tortufo, truffle fries, famous at Popolo is a mountain of thinly cut French fries topped with hints of truffle cream. The fries are not crunchy and not tender, a bit too small or not small enough, they lack fluffiness and crispness; it is intriguing to say the least. Now for the truffle sauce, it should be more for the quantity of fries. I would have personally served it in a bowl with a reasonable quantity of cream at the bottom for the fries to get soaked and add maybe Parmesan cheese on top. They even lack the rich truffle smell.
- Il Polipo: Good quality octopus served on a square plate with roquette leaves. With a little bit more pepper, a hint of lemon and the flavors would have been better.
- Carpaccio of Beef: A round plate, thinly sliced meat decorated with mini mushrooms and roquette leaves. It looks beautiful but I couldn’t find anything special to write home about. where is the lemon and olive oil?
- Tomato Bruschetta: Marinated tomatoes with olive oil served on a tender piece of slice of bread. Shouldn't the bread be crunchier or the tomato mix less soggy to avoid mushy result?
- Crostini of buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto ham: Cheese, fresh ham, some pepper, light olive oil and crispy bread. I suggest adding a bit more pepper, a bit more olive oil, toast the bread a bit more and you will have a superb plate.
- The Lobster salad is huge in portion and includes roquette leaves, fresh mushrooms with a tiny little portion of lobster. It's a fresh salad, beautifully seasoned, lemony with just the right amount of salt. I would add more lobster to the salad though for sure, or else change its name.
- Pizza: Generously filled, the pizza looks great. Thick borders and perfectly round, this pizza is filled with ingredients and tastes very good. But you can't eat it with your hands like pizzas are usually enjoyed. The middle part of the pizza is thin and soaked like soup while the borders are not crispy enough. I would make the middle crust thicker, use less watery ingredients and keep the borders a bit smaller to enjoy the crunchiness. The flour elasticity is what should be improved.
The main plates:
- Pasta Carbonara presented in a large plate topped with Parmesan cheese. Fresh pasta cooked al dente, light cream and, enjoyable bacon... But again there is something missing. Maybe it would be better to use De Cecco pasta? Add a bit more pepper, some more flavor from the Cheese...?
- The salmon is the most beautiful plate of all. Spinach, leak chips and grilled fennel. But there was a bitter taste coming from somewhere. Where from?
- The meat: Although prime in quality and very tender, the meat had zero flavors. Actually there was an unpleasant lingering blood flavor that I did not like.
Deceiving indeed. I expected better. The knowhow and ingredients are clearly there. But the end results need some tweaking.
- Crunchy chocolate bits, coffee juice, moisten cake and cream. That's called a tiramisu served in a glass cup.
- Calzone Al Forno: Nutella mixed with mozzarella is what makes it special and good but the bread is way too thick and chewy. It spoils the enjoyment. It's like eating Nutella in a baguette after school.
- It’s a beautiful place and the dishes are generous and appealing.
- Perfect lighting. Bright and fresh, you can clearly see what you’re eating while taking color-rich pictures.
- I loved the menu design and content.
- Unfortunately everything lacks flavor and taste.
I expected much more from Popolo. Something has to be changed. They need to find a way to add those missing flavors… and I don’t think that, is hard to accomplish.