February 11, 2015

2014: Best Italian Restaurants in Lebanon


Mario e Mario: Homemade, the Italian Way

"Mario e Mario has been a love project in the making for 30 years now. My earliest recollection of watching my father concocting passionately his delectable Italian dishes, dates back to when I was a little boy. It's been a dream of mine, ever since, to open one day a little restaurant, where our infatuation with traditional home cooked Italian food can be shared with loved ones. This is the place," expresses Mario Junior...

Marinella - A Delicious Italian Lunch

Marinella has been the talk of the town for the last couple of months as the owner Sophie Schoucair provides high end service and quality to customers seeking a true and simple Italian experience. Marinella is the only Italian restaurant in town which doesn't offer Pizza to her customers. On my last visit, my wife and I were shocked by the tasteless food served especially the Al dente pasta that needed a lot of seasoning. But things have now changed, the Safran Risotto and Vitello Tonnato of this week were delicious. A lot of my friends visit Marinella on a weekly basis to enjoy the simple and light preparations this place has to offer, I know why now.

La Piazza: The Italian Village in Beirut

La Piazza, one of the first Italian restaurants to have opened in Beirut, has become a place a very few people visit. We have to admit that Lebanese always like to try new places forgetting about the real places with authentically unique concepts. Last week, I felt like going back there as I wanted to experience the taste I miss and have enjoyed for more than a decade. 

The Peninsula: An Italian Country House in Dbayeh

The Peninsula, Italian restaurant in Dbayeh is one of those places we tend to forget sometimes, only because several other Italians have opened around town and maybe in more convenient places like malls or closer to Beirut. The food is good, the location and whole set up is fresh, a perfect spot for a Sunday family reunion lunch. I haven't been there in a while, I was impressively surprised.

La Posta Beirut

La Posta, in Achrafieh, has fine-tuned this concept welcoming you every Saturday for brunch and lunch from 11 until 4pm around a rich Italian buffet in a pleasant atmosphere. For only $35, you can indulge in an open buffet; add an additional $15 and receive an open Italian sparkling wine. Children pay $22. Just sit back and enjoy an wonderful ambiance hosted in the heart of Achrafieh, where a mix of different cultures and hundreds of musical sounds blend together along a wide scope of colors and shapes transporting you into a third dimension.

Tavolina: Back for the Pizza and More

Tavolina is an unpretentious trattoria, serving traditional Italian food including wood oven pizzas, pasta, risotto as well as poultry, fish and meat dishes. The decor is simple and atmosphere is homey although the lights are too dimmed for my taste. I like the idea of the table in the center, referred to as Dalla, of the restaurant which is used to prepare some of the signature dishes (grating parmigiana, slicing charcuterie etc) which relate to the name of the place.

Al Dente: A Fine Italian in Beirut

Al Dente, the only Italian fine dining restaurant in Lebanon has never seized to impress guests for the past decade or so. Located in one of the finest hotels in Lebanon and the only Relais et Chateau, the quality is up to the standards of this fine establishment. For The Academia Italiana Della Cucina first dinner in 2014, all guests lived a memorable experience.

Pzza.Co… Will Put a Smile on your Face… I was Overwhelmed

BRGR.Co started in Lebanon and found its way into the international market... The same people who brought you BRGR.Co now bring you PZZA.Co, a gourmet accessible Italian concept with a focal element being the all time favorite; Pzza! PZZA.Co is cutting its route into the Lebanese market with plans to redefine the meaning of Italian restaurants, as we know it. Serving the finest of pizzas, pastas and salads, Pzza.Co will simply put a smile on your face.

TOTO: A Special Italian Spot in Beirut

A 50's vibe, and an interesting combination of black and white fabrics on the chairs welcome you to Toto. Three wine coolers to the right next to the entrance and a long bar usher you in. The main pizza oven behind it, white wooden tables, a grey tiles floor, and two big round tables and some square ones fill the space. The same old Lebanese arcade house with its classic feel, while oval plates, thin stainless steel cutlery and beautiful Stolzle wine glasses decorate the tables. Lunch or dinner, Toto is always fully booked despite its noisy environment and bad ventilation... it seems people have a weakness for this place, its service, professionalism and food. Previously Toto was Chez Sophie, the only fine dining restaurant in Beirut. After the departure of Sophie to open her restaurant in Montreal, Samir Tabet, her brother, took over the premises to open up an Italian restaurant, that’s truly unique. I say unique because of its setup, decoration, way of dealing with things, wine list, crispy pizza and professionalism. Welcome to Toto, this Pizzeria nestled in the heart of Mar Mikhael, occupies an old Lebanese stone house restored to its original state.

Nonna's Delectable Pizza now in Dbayeh

I wanted to go back to Nonna, a pizza place I discovered almost a year ago down in Achrafieh. Thankfully they are now closer to home as they recently started serving their thin, generous and flavorful pizzas with crunchy borders in Dbayeh. Nonna didn't open a restaurant on its own but serves its pizza at Goutons Voir down in Junction 5, on the Dbayeh highway. Goutons Voir has now installed a pizza oven that's both wood and electricity fired at the same time, the latest in Italian technology innovation. You can now enjoy the full French menu of Goutons Voir along side a choice of 18 pizzas.

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