Trattoria Pomo D'Oro

Pomo D'Oro, which opened in 2002, is a wildly popular and beloved Italian restaurant in Budapest's downtown, marrying a red-sauce, old school Italian trattoria and a modern restaurant with gastronomic ambitions. This means it appeals 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 retained a homey atmosphere, is packed to capacity with a mixed crowd every day of the week. While not cheap by Budapest standards—mains range from €10 to €20—price points aren't outrageous for its calibre.

Here, it's hard to go wrong with anything, 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). Do save room for dessert, as the profiterole (€4) and the tiramisu (€4) are among the best in Budapest. Pomo D'oro's long wine list includes selections from A-level Italian and Hungarian wineries.

Note that Pomo D'Oro is more enjoyable in the evenings as it's often overrun by business people from the nearby financial district at lunchtime. 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.