Following on the trend of strange named Italian restaurants in town comes Millenium da Pippo. Why call it simply OK Italia when you can give it such an exotic name as Il Terzo Cerchio or Peccati di Gola or Millenium da Pippo. You may wonder where the strange name comes from. Millenium comes from the location, which is Andrássy út where the Millenium subway runs beneath the ground. The restaurant’s interior mirrors the interior of the subway stations with colourful tiles, the name of the side street in the famous tiled letters - even the columns or pillars in the restaurant seem to have come straight from beneath the ground. What this has to do with Pippo or Italy escapes me but it surely adds some nice atmosphere to the place. The tables, chairs emit the feeling of your local Italian trattoria and this is the scene where Millenium competes in. It doesn’t want to be a high end Italian like Krizia or Fausto, it settles for the trattoria ambience, pizzas from the wood fired oven and lots of pasta. Good, homey food. As in all better Italian joints in the city there is a constant flow of Italian speakers in the restaurant, which is a good sign and (hopefully) also a mark of good food.

We start off our lunch by eating some of the very tasty and fresh olive ciabatta brought to the table in a basket and order some starters: a caprese, a minestrone soup and an „antipasti” of spaghetti all’amatriciana. I tell the waiter that I am having a serious meat dish for my main course and would like a smaller portion of pasta to start. The bad news is that the waiter cannot bring me that smaller portion „because it’s not on the menu”. I tell him to bring me a smaller portion for the same price, he nods without apologies. The soup has a healthy portion of vegetables inside, although it is a bit too thin for my taste. The caprese is what it is, just tomatoes and mozzarella with only a small little flower of basil in the middle –the oil and other flavouring is left up to the guest at the table. The caprese that I put together in my kitchen every evening looks far more intriguing than this one. The amatriciana shows us a solid performance from the kitchen although it falls very short of the one I had in Rome in the Jewish district. Somehow the one there had a tiny bit of spicy kick, the onions were sautéed longer and the bacon was more fatty, smoky and tasty. I can’t complain about the quality of the pasta, it was cooked well and the amount of sugo with fresh tomatoes was just right. This shows a steady and experienced hand in the kitchen, possibly hailing from Italy who does not want to drown his pasta in sauce like some of his Hungarian counterparts gladly do.

As we wait for the main course I ask for a glass of the home Pinot Grigio, which passes for an OK vino di tavola.We don’t have to wait long for the three dishes: a home ravioli filled with mince meat in a tomato sauce, a spaghetti carbonara and my favourite: a tagliata con ruccola e grana or sliced beef with rocket and parmesan shavings. My beef has a great smoky flavour and the outside is charred nicely, which indicates a use of the wooden oven not only for pizza. Even though the taste was good overall and the meat itself was cooked in one piece and then sliced into individual pieces, I felt that it had been slightly overcooked and some parts became a bit chewy towards the edges. The rocket and cheese were doused with some aged balsamic and the presentation of the dish was interesting. Both pasta dishes were cooked al dente. As with my starter the carbonara wasn’t swimming in cream, but had a nice smoky, bacon flavour, perhaps this also lacked a bit more seasoning and punch. The ravioli filling of minced meat was also sufficiently light and creamy and the tomato sauce added a spicy tang to the dish dish. No worries about the quantity of food: everything comes in healthy portions.

The only downer during the lunch was the tiramisu, which looked really promising when they put it down before us, but left us with a quizzical expression once we tasted it. Something wasn’t right... the mascarpone was „floury” rather than being nice and creamy. We left it on the plate. On the other hand the black and white profiterol balls were huge, the cream filling was great and so was the chocolate sauce. Too bad it came from a plastic container from the freezer.

We all felt good at the end of the meal, but were left with thoughts of having had better meals at some other Italian eateries around the city. Nothing we had made us think that we would be back the next day or the next week begging our friends or family to try it out. I think Hungarians have a word for this and its called „korrekt”. Nothing amazing, nothing wild, just good and simple stuff. I would be happy if they had Italian restaurants like this on every corner serving food at half the price of this one.

Overall: 5,5/10
Millenium da Pippo
Andrássy út 76

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