Caffe Gian Mario
As soon as you enter, Caffe Gian Mario will conjure images of a stereotypical, family-owned Italian restaurant. A charming man in his 70s, wearing a finely cut wool jacket and a smile on his face that hints of a life well lived, is usually in charge of greeting and seating guests. The service staff, most of whom are also Italian, scurry around and shout half-uttered words to one another over the cramped tables. But despite the seeming chaos, food arrives quickly at Caffe Gian Mario.
The wallet-friendly Italian staples, while not earth-shattering in flavor or appearance, are prepared simply and well. The menu is mainly dedicated to pizzas, and a range of salads and pasta dishes. The highlight is the pasta carbonara (€6), which, the waiter hastens to declare, is strictly the no-cream variety, using only eggs, parmesan, guanciale, and black pepper over the spaghetti. You're probably better off skipping the unremarkable pizzas, and going straight for the desserts, of which the cannoli (€3) is the best. Caffe Gian Mario also serves breakfast. It's a modest affair, but the lively atmosphere carries over to the morning.
Caffe Gian Mario's crowd is an interesting mix of tourists, local Italians, and Hungarian partons. Reservations are a must, and note that they close at 4 p.m. on Saturdays.