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 tourists with "traditional Hungarian tourist menus," the correct reaction is to move on swiftly. La Botte is somewhat of an exception. Only somewhat, because parts of the restaurant mimic the neighboring places: goulash soup tops the menu, and the interior, featuring red-and-white checkered tablecloths and rustic wooden banquettes, is an uninspired attempt to recreate a Hungarian countryside ambiance.

But La Botte is no tourist trap. It’s actually one of the better Italian restaurants in Budapest with a trattoria-like menu. Their hand-made tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach is perfectly al dente and comes topped with cherry tomatoes and a tangy tomato sauce (€10). I only wished the plate had contained more than five oversized pieces of the navel-shaped pasta. The oblong, medium-crust pizzas that come out of the wood-burning oven exhibit an incredibly soft dough and yeasty depth. Don't miss them. The raspberry panna cotta (€4) 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? - sit at the outdoor tables during the warmer months for a front-row seat of the throngs passing through 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.