Giving a name to a restaurant is not that easy. There are many ways in which one can start the thought process.

How much should it convey the atmosphere and style of the restaurant? Should it be named after the owner, the chef? Should it be named after the type of cuisine it is renowned for? Should it be short or long, one word or two, foreign or hungarian sounding?

How the owners of our favourite, new Italian restaurant came up with the name Il Terzo Cerchio is beyond understanding. For one it is very long, complicated to pronounce and has very little meaning to Hungarians at first glance. It actually means the third circle or layer of hell in Dante's Divine Comedy, where gluttonous people wind up after eating themselves to death.

Because that's what we come to do here. To start with we order up mountains of hand cut Italian ham, fresh parmesan cheese, salads, "sepia all diavola" - a delicious baby squid in a spicy chili and garlic sauce and some focaccia from the brick oven. By that time we're almost done, but can't resist having main courses.

Time goes by quickly in Terzo, because it's ideally suited for large, loud groups and not intimate discussions. On a regular weekday evening the huge, almost hollow place fills up quickly with Italians and locals having a great time at large, sometimes 10-12 seater tables. There is a good buzz about the place that is kept up by the ever watchful eyes of the Italian owners - always there to greet guests, help out where possible and just to be there at all times.

Pizza is one of the best Budapest has to offer with a definite smoky taste due to the wood-fired brick oven it is made in. The paste comes with seasonal and market-fresh ingredients and the restaurant has an amazing variety to choose from. A not so memorable experience was the mixed plate of roast meats.

I should have listened to my good friend M, a local there, who suggested I skip the big, "touristy" plate and just go for the main thing: the Tagliata of beef. The tagliata was heavenly on the plate, too bad it was just three slices all together. The rest of the meat was forgettable: the lamb had a strong taste, the salsiccia was tasty but nothing spectacular and the pork ribs were fatty, no more.

I should write a separate chapter about the wine. We picked a Sicilian wine called Mille e una Notte from 98. It was the second time we had it and the Nero D'Avola didn't let us down this time, either. It simply is one of the roundest wines around. From the 9 years since its bottling I would guess it's peaking right now and it won't be the same in a couple of months, so go try it now if there are still bottles available. I should add, that a friend bought two bottles at the restaurant instantly.

Terzo is no longer a well kept secret in the Italian community, it is a destination in its own right and will stay like that as long as the cuisine maintains its superb performace and consistency.

Overall - 6,5/10

Il Terzo Cerchio
VII. Dohány u. 40

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