Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Restaurant of the week: Viola Italian Restaurant

Address: 1F, 255 Nanking E. Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei (北市南京東路3段255號1F)
Telephone: (02) 2681-6398
Open: 8am to 12am
Average meal: NT$600
Details: Credit cards accepted. English menu

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

The sea bass at Viola Italian Restaurant is not to be missed.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VIOLA ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Adjacent to the lobby of the Brother Hotel is this landmark's small and comfortable Viola Italian Restaurant, where at almost all hours of the day one can catch a tasty and classy meal.

The restaurant's menu is expansive, encompassing seafood, meat, pastas and pizzas and is suited to breakfast, lunch or dinner. For greater value and for the sake of simplicity, most diners will want to jump to the set menus at the back of the menu. These offer a fine balance of dishes to make up a complete meal that, in the larger sets, would be enough to fill a sumo wrestler. The large portions, however, do not mean corners are cut when it comes to taste.

The most basic set meal, for example, comes with either a soup or salad, a choice from among eight pastas and eight sauces, fruit and either coffee or tea for NT$380. Many, though not all, of the pastas are handmade on site, which ensures their freshness and exquisite texture, while the variety of sauces can suit most any taste. The restaurant's pomodoro and pesto sauces are unique in their consistency and flavor, with an emphasis on basil to the exclusion of garlic.

Other set meals are more elaborate and consequently more expensive (up to NT$1,480), with choices of meat or seafood and small bowls of pasta, as well as the house specialty, tiramisu. It would take an extremely hungry person, or, two as is often the case, according to assistant manager Julia Yu (俞錦雲), to finish these larger set meals, because the roast chicken, rack of lamb, sea bass and lobster options for the main dish are quite suitable in themselves to satisfy most appetites.

All the elements of the set menus can be ordered a la carte for those who would like to sample the specialty main dishes but can't put down the whole set menu. Among these, the sea bass stands out in particular as a true delicacy, with tender meat seared to perfection on a bed of fresh mashed potatoes.

Being an Italian eatery there are, of course, pizzas, all of which are priced between NT$280 and NT$380. These come in seven, thin-crust varieties and the kitchen can add or remove toppings when customers have a special craving for something that may not be featured on the menu's pizzas. The restaurant also serves an assortment of Italian sandwiches for NT$180.

In its large servings and especially its heavy cream sauces and soups, Viola Italian Restaurant occasionally tends toward the grandiose to leave an impression. Provided one chooses the lighter items on the menu, however, the restaurant offers great Italian food at eminently reasonable prices.

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