Address: Povraznícka 18
Cuisine: Italian and International
Credit cards: over 500 SK
Located just out of the centre opposite the YMCA cinema , Saranda looks like an ordinary restaurant. But once you take a trip up the stairs to the first floor, Saranda's plush red carpets and spacious lay-out will tell you that this place is far out of the daily eatery routine.
The first thing that greets you as you enter is a warm and airy atmosphere, created by the wooden decor andthe enormous windows, which gaze down on the uninspiring environs of Šancová Street. Though this is supposed to be an Italian restaurant, the place is strewn with historical chairs and massive dark wooden tables, capable of seating six people comfortably. The walls of the room are painted a pleasant yellow, and are hung everywhere with small drawings.
While enjoying a glass of Slovak wine, take a look around at the clientele, which seems to know it has stumbled onto a good thing. Old men nursing a beer rub shoulders with businessmen wolfing down their meals and shouting into their mobile phones. Everywhere you hear foreign tongues, mostly Italian and French, praising the quality of the food and calling for more vin rouge.
Saranda's greatest asset is its food, followed closely by the quick, helpful and polite service. If you have a hankering for pizza, you will need a few minutes to select from the 20 thin-crust varities on offer, ranging from 70 to 150 Sk (except for the "Pizza bambino", a children's pizza for 55 Sk). The Pizza Regina (Royal Pizza), a combination of tomatoes, cheese, garlic, oregano and prawns, was particularly fine on the day we visited.
If you are in the mood for something more exotic, try the fish dishes, especially the Calamari Fritti with salt for 250 Sk, or the Scampi alla griglia (grilled sea lobsters) with salad for 350 Sk (this is the most expensive dish on offer).
The pasta dishes, predictably, are superb, with Spaghetti alla marinara (sea food) or Rigatoni "Lecca baffi," which means "Lick your mustache," with meat and mushrooms for 125 Sk. All the traditional Italian dishes are here, including various kinds of tagliatelle, lasagna and tortellini, all bathed in tasty heavy sauces. Try the Tortellini dello chef with cream, meat and ham for 120 Sk. And in the end, if nothing on the menu grabs your attention, ask them to make something to order. My companion, who was dismayed to find that Spaghetti arabiata (a very hot dish) was not offered, demanded that the kitchen prepare something spicy, which they did with gusto, reducing him to a weeping, water-gulping embarrassment. Bravo Saranda!
Meat dishes won't disappoint. Try the Bistecca Vienna (Vienna style roast beef) with onions and roasted potatoes for 190 Sk, the juicy Filetto con broccoli for 220 Sk or the Petti di Pollo Ripiene - stuffed chicken breasts - for 160 Sk.
To finish off, if you acually have any room left, try an ice cream dish or one of the many sweet desserts on offer. They're not as good as the main meals, frankly, but go agreeably with a coffee and amaretto.
Don't forget, finally, to take a few of the restaurant's business cards to give to your friends. Dining in the capital is rarely better than this.
9. Nov 1998 at 0:00