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Matto: The Spaghetti Carbonara and Bottarga Linguini
It’s where Italy is showcased in a fun way, where decor transports you into another dimension; it’s where the view is fantastic and where music is soothing... it’s Matto, the latest Italian Experience and talk of the town, now open on Aishti seaside inside the new Aishti home. Loved the first impression, especially the welcoming, decor, and music with the rich aromas coming all the way from Italy to charm you. “Matto” for crazy! I was ready to be enchanted.
Come into this wide space decorated with industrial materials, black metal, and natural wood. Wine bottles here, photos there, yellow glass squares bringing colors in the room, with the “Matto” red logo used as a decoration item in three different spots. The restaurant is built around an open kitchen and a bar, bringing people together in a fresh and vibrant ambiance of positivity. Look at the chairs; all from the same color with one different on every table.
Start with the bread; a metal can filled with warm olive oil focaccia bread served with olive oil balsamic vinegar and salt. Prepare your sauce by adding a bit of balsamic to the olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper. Loved the bread, tender and airy with an enjoyable yet non-chewy fluffiness.
On the menu: “English is our second language. Beware of hand gestures.”
- Carpaccio and tartare
- Pasta and risotto
- Meat and fish
“It might get a bit louder than usual, welcome to Italy.”
Start with the hand-cut truffle fries covered with Parmesan. Thinly cut unpeeled fries, covered with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, served with a creamy sauce on the side. Grab couple sticks, dip them in the sauce and enjoy. This plate many restaurants propose is different due to the fries size and side sauce.
Another appetizer also landed on the table; the artichoke cake is all about a puff pastry cup filled with a creamy mix of artichokes and pecorino cheese. A crunchy dough, fresh artichokes and the kick off that cheese exploding at the end to caress your palate. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some arugula add finesse and style to that plate. I was not expecting Italian fine-dining perfection, but in fact, I got something even better; Italian love and the feel of home poured in every plate.
There are things in life that impress me and people who memorize things come on top of the list. Meet Ali Kheshen, a professional waiter who remembers everything by heart in a second. A table of twenty, he can take the order, remove the items you don’t need and repeat it by heart! Poetry would have taken me a week to remember during school days.
Now for the more serious things! That’s a great pizza they have here. Spicy, thin, fluffy borders, a load of cheese; a real Italian Pizza. A slice then another, I could stop until the pizza was erased from the table. The fried seafood nibbles are awesome especially their lemon mayo sauce which feels homemade. Even though I’m not a fan of salads, the fresh vegetables one is excellent; balanced and full of flavors.
The Pasta is exceptional! One of the best, not to say the best Carbonara I’ve had at a restaurant in Lebanon is found at Matto. Extremely al-dente -and I love them this way-, hard textured spaghetti mixed with egg yolk, Parmesan cheese with bits of bacon; the real carbonara without cream. Bravo chef for such an outstanding creation I’ll surely come back for. Two thumbs up for such a marvel! I’ve also tasted from my wife’s Arrabiatta, a succulent plate.
Again... another plate! I was offered another plate of carbonara; yes, two portions in one lunch! It’s breathtaking. Feels creamy without cream, eggs are not felt, bacon is well pan-fried, adequately peppered and the spaghetti are as thick as they need to be. I’m Impressed!
Make sure to keep some space for dessert; it’s a show as well as a mouthwatering experience; the “Matto rock” is about a dark chocolate carapace embracing a cold chocolate mousse. Good quality chocolate, mousse, temperature and crunchy nuts. Popolo’s famous mozzarella and Nutella Pizza is still as good as it always was; I always enjoy its chewiness and load of flavors. The Mille-feuille is special, a crumble of puff pastry served in a mountain shape with strawberries and red fruits. A yummy tiramisu followed, watery and light with a bed of moist cake.
Even the coffee is great: they use Caffe Vergnano!
Loved it; the food, the mood, the service... bravo chef, bravo team and thank you dear manager for your attention to details.
Smoking is the only problem! Why would people want to smoke while others enjoy their food? Happy to do it against the law, at least divide the restaurant into two parts.