Caffe Gian Mario

Caffe Gian Mario is a family-owned restaurant in Budapest run by Italian natives. A charming man in his 70s, wearing a finely cut wool jacket and a smile hinting of a life well lived, is usually in charge of greeting and seating guests. The service staff, most of whom are also Italians, scurry around and shout half-uttered words to one another over the cramped tables. Despite the seeming chaos, the food arrives quickly.

The wallet-friendly Italian staples are by no means earth-shattering in flavor or appearance, but you can have tasty pastas and pizzas here, and the cannoli were especially tasty. Gian Mario also serves breakfast — it's a modest affair, but the lively atmosphere carries over to the morning. The crowd is a mix of tourists, local Italians, and Hungarians. Reservation is a must, and note that they close at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and remain shut on Sundays.

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