Alessio Restaurant

Never mind the black-and-white photos of Italy on the walls, little of Alessio’s interior will remind you that you’re in an Italian restaurant. Instead, the densely carpeted space with crammed tables and white linen tablecloths feels more like a charming neighborhood joint tailored to the tastes of the local middle- and upper-class residents of this elite Buda neighborhood.

Alessio’s claim to fame, the garlic shrimp, is actually a Spanish classic (gambas al ajillo): the shrimp is served in a rich sizzling sauce of olive oil, chili, and garlic. It’s a little sweeter than elsewhere, and it’s impossible to stop eating - use the bread to mop up the rich leftover sauce to the last drop. The grilled octopus is the other standout appetizer. It arrives with a beautifully charred crust and a perfectly chewy flesh. Another seafood, the branzino tops the entres at Alessio. Despite branzino being a staple across Italian restaurants in Budapest, too many kitchens serve a desiccated fillet of this Mediterranean fish. Not so at Alessio, where the grilled branzino was firm but perfectly tender and came with a side of grilled vegetables that were more tasty and varied than the wilted collection of greens Budapest diners are too often faced with.

Alessio’s pizzas meet the standards of comparable restaurants but not much else can be said in their favor. On the pasta front, the highlight was the home made pappardelle drizzled with slices of filet mignon and porcini mushrooms. The only dud I came across in Alessio was the tiramisu of all things, whose texture was too crumbly and the ladyfingers were dry and not integrated in the mascarpone filling (granted, when I ordered it on another visit, it was much better).