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. Food usually takes a back seat in places where hostesses, dressed in folk outfits, lure you with "traditional Hungarian tourist menus." La Botte is somewhat of an exception. Only somewhat, because part of the restaurant mimics the neighboring tourist traps, serving goulash soup from an interior adorned with rustic Hungarian countryside decor.

But La Botte is no tourist trap. In fact, bizarrely, it's one of the better Italian restaurants in Budapest. Their handmade tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach is perfectly al dente and comes topped with a tangy tomato sauce (€10). The oblong, medium-crust pizzas come out of a wood-burning oven and exhibit a soft dough and yeasty depth. The raspberry panna cotta is light and creamy, unlike the jelly-like versions so common elsewhere.

If you enjoy people watching, 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 here.

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.