La Botte Budapest

I can’t blame you if your first instinct is to avoid all restaurants lining Váci Street, Budapest’s version of La Rambla. When hostesses dressed in folk outfits try to lure unsuspecting passersby with traditional Hungarian tourist menus, the right thing to do usually is to swiftly move on. La Botte is somewhat of an exception. Only somewhat, because parts of it mimic the neighboring restaurants, meaning that goulash tops the menu and the interior features the stereotypical bric-a-brac decor complete with red and white checkered tablecloths.

But La Botte is no tourist trap. It’s actually one of the top Italian restaurants in Budapest with a trattoria-like menu that boasts some of the best tortelloni, grilled branzino fish, and panna cotta in Budapest. Not to mention the oblong, medium-crust pizzas that come out of the wood-burning oven and sport an incredibly soft dough and yeasty depth.

The hand-made tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach is perfectly al dente and comes topped with cherry tomatoes and a tangy tomato sauce. I only wished the plate contained more than the mere 5 oversized pieces of the navel-shaped pasta. The grilled branzino's crackly skin enclosed a tender white flesh. The raspberry panna cotta at La Botte is lightly sweet, with a creamy, almost liquid texture, unlike the jelly-like versions so common elsewhere.

If you enjoy people watching (who doesn’t?) go for the outdoor tables during the warmer months for a front-row seat of the throngs of Váci Street. Finally, a word to the wise: even if the Hungarian dishes pique your interest, you're better off sticking to Italian food at La Botte.