Let me quickly point out that I’m a fan of the 'old one' - the Osteria -, which I’ve written about previously only using superlative adjectives to describe the food and the environment that got much better and far less stiff than before.

So the time came to check out the new one – Ristorante Fausto. It was a truly important occasion: a dinner with my all new, Italian boss and a lady colleague from the company. The Italian dignitary told me early on in the day that all he wanted was a steak and he’s had enough of all the ’local’ food that they’ve been offering him in Prague and in Moscow and elsewhere. So he wants to get back to basics and down a great, big, juicy steak.

Now, I find Italians really love to eat Italian food even when they go abroad. I know a couple of Italian hunters who come here every year bringing their own pasta, wine, olive oil, tomatoes, canned tomatoes, salsiccia, cheese and everything that they can lay their hands on. The only thing they source from Hungary is meat, which they actually shoot themselves, so I guess there’s no problem there. Italian eateries around town here are filled with Romans and Milanese and Sicilians who wouldn’t be caught dead eating a goulash or some tandoori down the road. They need homey Italian cooking, they need to talk the talk to the waiters and they need to feel at home and enjoy food, which is as close as possible to their mothers’ cooking.

So my idea for the evening was the following: grab a huge 800 g Fiorentina in the new, ristorante Fausto, get several brownie points from my boss and look forward to a bright future in the company. Easy as that! I called the restaurant ahead inquiring about the Florentine cut, but unfortunately they had none at hand and quickly offered a rump-steak on the bone instead sayig that it was just as tasty. I believed them and we were set for the evening.

We arrived in the restaurant – which is just off Király utca-at 19:30 expecting it to be relatively empty because of the early hour. That’s just what it was – empty. The problem was, that it stayed relatively empty even after that apart from a lonesome Italian maffiosi (according to my sharp sighted and well-hearing boss) having dinner alone.

The place doesn’t look good. First of all it’s located in a new office/housing block that has no style whatsoever. It’s just plain, „modern” and boring. The facade also resembles more of an office block than an elegant Italian restaurant. Once inside, the scenery doesn’t change dramatically: a large white curtain occupies one wall and shields the restaurant from... the office block I guess. The floor is parquet or faux-parquet and there are huge, red, rosy lampshades for every table, which are the only elements that emit a slightly warm and inviting feeling to the place. On several photographs of the restaurant -that I saw previously in magazines - there was also a strange green-spray-paint-thing going on on the big mirror behind the tables, but that seems to have been removed due to the negative comments it evoked. I can’t hide the fact that it still felt like eating in a posh office.

The food is a completely different story. It was fantastic from start to finish. Ok, nearly start to finish. I don’t get why a top level restaurant serves a dry, tortilla chip like, cracker imitation to crunch on while ordering drinks and food. It’s not great home bread, it’s not fresh pizza pane with rosemary, it’s not an amouse bouche and it’s dry like the desert. Closest I could think of was grissini. Perhaps I could take it with some cheese sauce or salsa in the movies, but not here crunching away like mice.

We had starters of melon and ham – a surprising gasp and exclamation of joy from my Italian boss when he tasted the succulent pieces of ham -, a testament to Fausto, who we know always does everything to hunt down the finest ingredients. The salmon and lobster tail that arrived as a starter also made our heats beat faster. Both were prepared with flair and sophistication.

A slight intermezzo and a minor malfunction in the service allowed them to open, decant and then serve our wine, which was completely off, almost like vinegar. The next bottle the waiter bought as a backup showed the real beauty of this wine from the Friuli region and we didn’t let this derail our mission to be dined and wined like kings and queens.

On to the mains. My steak with ruccola pesto and grana cheese melted on top was perhaps one of the best pieces of meat I’ve had – prepared to absolute perfection like I ordered it – pink allover. The sliced, baked potatoes under the sauce played well to the meat and enabled some good soaking up of the pesto. The rump steak on the bone was also devoured extra quick and the plate wiped clean of all meat juices.

Like any good international rating I should avoid spending so much time on the surroundings and the atmophere and just concentrate on the food, but I feel that this place needs to make up a lot in this aspect if it should carry on the Fausto name for years to come.

Fausto étterem
Overall: 8/10

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