“Ita” for Italian and “Lee” for Japanese, the restaurant on Antelias internal road is Italian and Japanese combined. I’ve passed by the restaurant several times... never felt like stopping... until today. With a view on the main road, I sat to have lunch.
The first impression:
- Italian food, black Japanese decor, and American music! Music is too loud; the decor is too cold. A bizarre place.
- Unpleasant smell sprays over your head and food; “psh-psh” I wouldn’t even use in my own toilet. Three machines in one corner are a headache guaranteed.
- The menu is loaded with mistakes, probably a hundred of them, written in small letters even a youngster couldn’t read.
- Plates have nothing Italian about them, simple white porcelain plates serving food as you do it at home; feels like a homey restaurant.
The restaurant: white walls painted with Japanese designs. Black on white joining two countries together, Italy and Japan. On the other side, walls of white brick and a television. The restaurant proposes two kinds of seating, benches, and chairs around wooden tables.
On the menu: a selection of Italian specialties, pizzas, spaghetti, risotto, international sandwiches and salads alongside the standard sushi menu found at local Japanese restaurants.
- Caprese: Mozzarella, thick slices of tomatoes and basil leaves. As good as it should be, ingredients from the market, a simple, uncomplicated plate with no pretension. Good quality of tomatoes and cheese.
- Bruschetta: Pain de Campagne topped with warm goat cheese, crunchy fried bacon and grilled peach. An interesting combination I enjoyed. Tender and sweet peach, soft yet crunchy bacon, smooth cheese and fresh bread; well done. I would have presented the plate differently, with more class.
- Good sushi; a bit creamy, looking stale but good. Good quality rice, crunchy crisps, not chewy and good quality seafood. Bizarrely, I was not expecting to eat good sushi in here; and they don’t use the ugly green plastic leaves to decorate the plates, bravo for that.
- Steak sandwich: hard bread, probably from the night before, dry and hard thinly-sliced steak, arugula and mayonnaise. The sandwich comes with crunchy coleslaw mixed with mayonnaise -needing a load of lemon and some sugar- and a side of oily fries.
- Spaghetti; overcooked non-aldente spaghetti cooked in a readymade supermarket sauce. Cheese... never add cheese to seafood!
- The salmon pizza looks nice: the cheapest salmon quality out there, undercooked and chewy bread, with cheese that’s not indicated in the menu, sweet fresh cream and lemon zest. Not my kind of pizza at all!
Service: cutlery and plates were not changed between sushi and Italian. Tables remained dirty until after desserts with no effort to clean it. Uniform: Cheap street outfit from the restaurant next door. In one word; dramatic!
We were offered dessert, an appreciated gesture: something big, very big, extremely bulky... chewy and crunchy thick bread, an excess of sweetness, too much oil. Thank you for the gift but no! I’m not sure the chef knows what a pain perdu is.
It’s sad; the place feels dirty, the smell of toilets is unbearable, plates are bulky and lack finesse, service needs training, waiter needs to stop smoking and probably think of cutting his nails... food is fine, -almost everything is bright readymade from the market- but requires some attention to details and proper use of ingredients. Whoever is behind this plates doesn’t have the restaurant business expertise.
Oh My God! That smell!!!! Please remove it! Who the hell told you that a restaurant needs to have a smell!?