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 feels like a charming neighborhood joint tailored to the tastes of the middle- and upper-class residents of this elite Buda neighborhood. If you need a break from the bustle of the city center, Alessio is a perfect hideaway, offering excellent food and a homey 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 impossible to stop eating—use the bread to mop up the rich leftover sauce to the last drop. The grilled octopus, arriving with a charred crust and a perfectly chewy flesh, is another standout (€15). Too many kitchens serve a desiccated fillet of branzino, but not Alessio, where this Mediterranean sea bass is firm but perfectly tender, and comes with a side of grilled vegetables (€17).

Of the pastas, I enjoyed most the pappardelle drizzled with slices of filet mignon and porcini mushroom (€12). The only dud I came across in Alessio was the tiramisu of all things—it was too crumbly and the ladyfingers weren't integrated in the mascarpone—but when I ordered it on another visit, it was much better.