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Restaurant Reviews
Planning to dine out? Visit the Expat Site Restaurant Guide
for a listing of restaurants and menus in English and Russian.

Every two weeks the Moscow Expat Site presents yet another Moscow eatery for your consideration.
If you'd like to suggest a restaurant for review - or even review a restaurant yourself - click here and we'll consider your suggestion.
 Il Patio 

Cuisine: Italian
Address: 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya ul., 2, str. 1
Metro: Mayakovskaya
Tel: +7 (499) 251-0884
Open: Mon-Fri from 08:00 until 24:00, Sat-Sun from 11:00 until 24:00

Address: Arbat ul., 1
Metro: Arbatskaya
Tel: +7 495) 790-7170, 790-7169
Open: from 10:00 until 24:00

Address: Pushinskaya pl. , 5
Metro: Pushkinskaya
Tel: +7 (495) 694-3604, 650-7077
Open: Mon-Fri from 11:00 until 24:00, Sat-Sun from 12:00 until 24:00.

Web: il-patio.rosinter.ru
All major credit cards are accepted.

By Robert Lees

There is a certain something about the Patio Pizza chain that somehow fails to spark much enthusiasm. I've passed the rather tacky looking Belorusskaya branch numerous times without ever feeling the need to pass through its doors. Whether it is the cheap plastic exterior or its close proximity to Rosticks, I have always felt the need to avoid its charms. However once, without really knowing why I decided to try it. I suppose it possessed a strange familiarity, maybe it was the fact that the final bill was unlikely to cause financial ruin or probably it was just because my partner was an avid pizza fan.

On entering the door we were immediately greeted, not by grotesque steroid-filled gorilla intent on implementing face control, but by a sincere smiling waitress who politely asked whether we wanted smoking or non-smoking seats. Oh what a relief it was to have the opportunity to actually taste my food rather than my neighbour's nicotine. We were sat in a quiet corner nicely tucked away from the open plan kitchen but arguably too close to the disturbing plastic waterfall. However this was a minor disagreement. The interior was, at worst, anonymous but nowhere near as offensive as the outside suggested it might have been.

The menu was brought to us by a charming (if slightly robotic) waiter who introduced himself, wished us a pleasant meal and gave us his own personal recommendations. Of course by the time we arrived this welcome had probably passed his lips a hundred times.

A quick glance of the menu suggested that it was rather limited to the staple pasta and pizza dishes. There were a few non-Italian sounding specials such as Steamed Salmon (485 roubles) and an fried Lamb Chops (596 roubles) but anyone who was expecting the lively regional specialities from Umbra, Tuscany or Lombardy would have been left despondent.

However there is little point bemoaning what a menu lacks rather than focusing on what it does well. Unfortunately time prevented us from choosing starters. The selection was a rather uninspiring affair, consisting of old favourites such as oven-baked Focaccia, garlic breads, Gazpacho, but the portions were admittedly impressive. I looked on enviously as a freshly made Bruschetta topped with a generous helping of chopped plum tomatoes drizzled with deliciously pure virgin olive oil was delivered to my neighbour's table. The Minestrone Soup, viewed from afar, was a delightful cocktail of deep-co loured broth swimming with thickly cut fresh vegetables. It filled the air with an earthy, herby, sweet pungency.

Alas we went straight to the main course. Nowadays the popularity of Italian food means that you can find a margarita in Poland, a Hawaiian in Brazil, or even a four seasons in Vietnam. Patio pizza is no exception. Whatever your favourite pizza is you are unlikely to be disappointed here. The prices are very reasonable too (Most are in the 200-350 rouble range). All pizzas are freshly prepared on-site and then cooked in the restaurant's own wood-fired, stone-based oven. Many restaurants now boast of similar classical cooking methods, the same attention to detail but it seems that Patio has managed to go that little bit further than many of its rivals. A deeper delve into the menu is rewarded with the discovery of the pizza specials boasting names such as the Michelangelo or the Valentino. These are prepared with the same love and care but unusual shaped pizza bases and the clever selection of extraordinary coloured ingredients enhance not only the taste but also the visual experience. The triangular Michelangelo with its succulent brown mushrooms, fresh black olives and the unusually fragrant basil leaves was a sumptuous bargain at less than 300 roubles.

No Italian meal can be truly enjoyed without the accompaniment of a good wine. The wine list rather like the menu itself was more functional than exciting. The expected heavyweights such as Pinot Grigio (850 roubles), and Soav e (675 roubles) were all present as were a few young reds from France. The inclusion of Lambrusco (560roubles), in my mind at least, was unfortunate and unnecessary. One had hoped that it had long ago gone into retirement. For those who feel the need there was the inimitable Sovetskoe Shampanskoe' at 250 roubles. Be reassured that if you do go for this option (as we ourselves did) you won't be classed a social leper. In fact will get a snazzy ice bucket and be treated to a very theatrical opening.

All in all Patio Pizza was a complete surprise. As I walked in I have to admit that I was expecting the worst. The uninspiring outside gives no clue as to the quality of both the food and the service that you will receive. The menu isn't wide-ranging nor particularly inspiring but what it does do, it does well. Large tasty portions are served by polite staff in a friendly environment. It obviously won't be to everyone's taste; for some it will be too formulaic, for others it won't carry enough prestige. I for one hope they stay away. Let me keep Patio Pizza for myself! On the other hand, I wonder how many people like me have taken one look and decided not to go in. Do they know what they are missing? It's time they found out.

03.11.03

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