Alessio Restaurant

Never mind the black-and-white photos of Italy on the walls, little of Alessio’s interior will remind you of 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. If you feel like you need a break from the bustle of the city center, Alessio is a perfect hideaway, offering excellent food and a cozy atmosphere.

Alessio’s claim to fame, the garlic shrimp, is actually a Spanish classic (gambas al ajillo): the shrimp is served in a sizzling sauce of olive oil, chili, and garlic (€11). 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 (€15). It arrives with a charred crust and a perfectly chewy flesh.

Another seafood, the branzino tops the entres (€17). 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 fish 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 the home-made pappardelle drizzled with slices of filet mignon and porcini mushrooms (€12) is very tasty. The only dud I came across in Alessio was the tiramisu of all things: it 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).