Trattoria Pomo D'Oro
Opened in 2002, Trattoria Pomo D'Oro is a wildly popular Italian restaurant in Budapest's downtown that marries a red-sauce, old-school Italian trattoria with a modern restaurant. This means that the place draws everyone from middle-class Hungarian families looking for Italian comfort food to foodies, business customers, and tourists. As a result, the ever-expanding space, which has managed to retain a cozy vibe, 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 caliber.
Here, it's hard to go wrong with anything, but I most enjoy 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, skew Neapolitan-style with an airy crust. Do save room for dessert as the profiterole and the good old tiramisu are among the best you'll find in Budapest. The long wine list features both Italian and Hungarian bottles.
Note that Pomo D'Oro is most 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 a sought-after restaurant in Budapest. Reservations are an absolute must.