Trattoria Pomo D'Oro

Pomo D'Oro, which opened in 2002, is a well-known and beloved Italian restaurant in Budapest's Downtown. Pomo D'Oro isn't easy to categorize: it marries a red-sauce, old school Italian trattoria and a modern restaurant with gastronomic ambitions.

This means it caters equally well to middle-class Hungarian families looking for pan-Italian comfort food, foodies with more adventurous palates, business customers, and tourists. As a result, the ever-expanding space, which has managed to retain an intimate atmosphere, is packed to capacity with an eclectic crowd every night of the week. While not cheap by Budapest standards, the price points aren't outrageous for its calibre (mains range from €10 to €20).

It's hard to go wrong with any of the dishes, but I enjoy most the rich Tuscan tomato soup (pappa al pomodoro; €6), the strozzapreti hand-rolled pasta (€9), and the branzino fillet, be it charcoal-grilled (€12) or steamed and filled with pancetta and black mussels (€15). The pizzas, prepared in a wood-burning oven, lean toward the Neapolitan-style with an airy crust. If unsure, go for the "Emiliana," packing Parma ham, mozzarella, and parmesan (€11). If you save room for dessert, try the profiterole (€4) and the tiramisu (€4), which are among the best in Budapest. Pomo D'oro's long wine list includes both Italian and Hungarian bottles.

I prefer Pomo D'Oro during the evenings because at lunchtime the place is often overrun by business people from the nearby financial district. All in all, reliable Italian food and a friendly service rightfully make Pomo D'oro one of, if not the most sought-after restaurants in Budapest. Reservations are an absolute must.