(CNS Foodie): A trip out to West Bay looking for dinner with a serene view took us to Ristorante Pappagallo. We had booked, which on this evening was essential. We were given a friendly greeting at the door and offered the option to wait a couple of minutes for a table on the veranda or be seated at our booked spot inside. We opted to wait, which was worth it, as the veranda has a better view of the lit-up pond outside.
Ristorante Pappagallo has a vibrant feel to it with very friendly staff. Once we were seated, our server offered water and the menus. First off was the wine list, which is extensive and covers all the bases. There is a definite Italian feel to the list with some very interesting choices from that country’s major wine-producing areas. The prices, as wine lists go, were very reasonable.
We chose to be a little adventurous and requested a lesser known red (Nero d’Avola). It hit the right notes — rich, smooth and very drinkable. As a side note, the list covers most of the world’s wine-producing regions, including some of the top wines available, making the list accessible to the novice as well as the very discerning drinker.
Our server then promptly took our food orders, and as we had made our final decisions for starters as well as our main course, the admin side of the evening was dispatched with relative ease.
Three of our party of four ordered appetizers: conch chowder ($9), beet and cucumber salad ($9) and tropical salad ($9.50). The chowder, with clementine and saffron, was zesty and very tasty, the conch being wonderfully soft. The tropical salad, containing papaya, mango, grapefruit, radicchio, grape tomatoes and mixed lettuce, with a lime honey dressing, was colourful and eye-catching with a great assortment of flavours. However, it was missing that extra something to make us stop and take notice.
The beet salad — beets, horseradish mascarpone, with an olive oil and lemon dressing, and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and parsley — was also very tasty, with just enough bite from the horseradish without it being overpowering. This should definitely be considered a “must try”.
Enjoying the wine and the good company, we barely noticed the time before the main courses were placed on the table. The two pasta dishes we ordered were ziti, on special ($28) — lobster, octopus and shrimp with a tomato-based sauce); and maltagliati ($27) — slow-braised beef short rib, red wine sauce, forest mushrooms and parmesan flakes. We also chose risotto scoglio ($28.50) — carnaroli rice, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, garlic, diced tomatoes, olive oil and white wine sauce; and pork belly, also on special ($27), with Brussels sprouts and slow-braised onions.
The ziti had all the right flavours, with the pasta cooked perfectly; however, it was still a bit bland which could have been helped by a touch of acidity. In addition, the presentation would have benefitted from some colour. As for the maltagliati, the pasta was great and the short ribs beautifully soft, but once more I felt that the dish could have used a small boost, perhaps some salt to enhance the flavour and tickle the taste buds just a little bit more. The shaved parmesan on the top did pull it through and so the dish was enjoyed nonetheless.
The risotto was flavourful and cooked just a little al dente, as it should be. The ingredients were well balanced with all the different tastes and textures proving a perfect mix. The pork belly was also a hit, with the main ingredient crispy and delicious and set off nicely by the Brussels sprouts, which had not a hint of bitterness, and the braised onion base. This would be my recommendation for the diner who is not enticed by the pasta selections.
We moved onto dessert. We only ordered the tiramisu ($8) but that was fabulous and did not disappoint. It was a good thing we ordered two of those.
We were also served limoncello and grappa on the house, which certainly ended the evening on a happy note.
Overall, it was a great experience and we will definitely return to try other dishes on the menu as well as have another go at the wine list.
The bill for the evening for four people was $199 plus 15% gratuity.