Fri, Feb 23, 2001 - Page 10 News List

Restaurants of the week

This week we look at three Western-style restaurants in varying price ranges.

By Ian Bartholomew and David Frazier  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Expect massive portions of chicken at Amaroni's.

PHOTO: IAN BARTHOLOMEW, TAIPEI TIMES

Ticino (瑞花餐廳)

2, Lane 82, Tienmu E. Rd., Taipei (北市天母東路82巷2號), tel:(02)2876-1101. Open:11am-2pm; 5pm-9:30pm (last order), a la carte throughout the afternoon on weekends; average meal: NT$1000; English menu; credit cards accepted.

Hidden away behind the noisy and brightly lit pubs of Tienmu East Road, Ticino provides an intimate atmosphere and fine food, ideal for leisurely dining. Owner and executive chef Peter Frauchiger provides a mixture of typical Swiss food such as fondue, along with the variations on German, Italian and French dishes that make up Swiss cuisine.

Among the wide range of appetizers, the steak tartar, raw beef mixed with herbs and served with thin slices of toast, has a fragrance and hint of spice guaranteed to tempt the appetite. For something a little more substantial, try the salad of cold cervelat sausage with cheese, which is tart and fresh with a variety of leaves.

Follow this with the ox-tail soup with sherry, one of the best clear soups to be found this side of paradise, or perhaps have the spicy goulash soup, which is almost a meal in itself.

Fondue is a centerpiece of Ticino's menu, with classic cheese fondue with white wine, or a modified version using beef consomme and flavored with morels, which Frauchiger says is particularly popular with locals venturing into fondue territory for the first time. For those who want meat, a variety of fondue bourgignonne are also available. The fondue theme can be carried over to dessert with chocolate fondue, in which fresh fruit is dipped into a choice of melted semi-bitter, milk or white chocolate. Washed down with a Kirish, a Swiss cherry spirit, there is no better way to top off a meal.

Ticino offers a wide range of main courses including pastas, schnitzels and even vegetarian dishes based on the Swiss staple of roschti (fried potato pancakes). Highly recommend is the sliced veal in mushroom cream sauce with roschti.

Experienced service and simple yet elegant presentation enhance the dining experience at Ticino, as does the wine list, which offers rarely seen Swiss wines, as well as a selection from most wine producing countries.

Amaroni's Little Italy (小義大利餐廳)

220 Changchun Rd., Taipei (北市長春路220號), tel:(02)2507-6967. Open:11am-12:30am (1:30am Fridays and Saturdays); average meal:NT$500; English menu, credit cards accepted.

The interior of dark wood, chandeliers and walls covered with portraits and family group photos could come from the set of The Godfather or Goodfellas. This is little Italy, and the management, the same group that brought Dan Ryan's to Asia, has taken pains to create a convincing atmosphere.

"Our food is basically southern Italian, but with American influence," said Amy Huang (黃雅惠), manager of Amaroni's. The restaurant follows the Dan Ryan's formula of offering large portions, so while the prices on the menu look big, most dishes are more than sufficient for two or three people. "The menu is particularly targeted at groups," Huang said. "Italian home-style dining, with its big plates of food that is shared around the table is very similar to the way Chinese people eat," she added.

The restaurant has only been open four months, but already a number of dishes have established themselves as hot favorites with customers. The rosemary chicken, roasted whole just before serving, is simple, but quite delicious. "We just use the basic ingredients of Italian cooking," Huang said. "But we do not pre-bake the chicken, so the meat is much more tender and does not become dry." A wait of 20 minutes is necessary for this dish, but it is definitely worthwhile.

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