Porcellino Grasso Ristorante

Porcellino Grasso is a popular Italian restaurant tucked away on the serene Rózsadomb hill. The neighborhood is the most exclusive residential area on the Buda side of Budapest, if not the whole city.

Most dishes on the long pan-Italian menu at Porcellino Grasso are reliable, but I’m hard-pressed to single out an unforgettable plate that’s worth crossing the Danube from Pest. It’s fitting that most patrons at this spacious ristorante, boasting a sizeable outdoor patio and even a private playground, are local residents from the surrounding verdant hills dotted with grand villas.

You can’t really go wrong with the tasty, but indistinct plates at Porcellino. The tomato bruschetta, the wood-burning oven pizzas, and the spaghetti ai frutti di mare of the home made pasta selections are all good choices. Notwithstanding the tableside spectacle, however, the salt-crusted baked branzino stuffed with lemon and herbs was a bit dry, the flavors in the “Livorno” fish soup never came together and lacked piquancy, and the classic Italian dessert choices like tiramisu and panna cotta were bland. The burrata cheese missed what's normally the best part of it: a delicious creamy center.

Porcellino's hillside location and attentive service staff could naturally make it the go-to place for Italian food in Budapest, but first the kitchen would need to make the leap from neighborhood-restaurant type cooking to offering more nuanced and convincing flavors.