Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Cafe Grazie 義式屋古拉爵

Address: 1F, 29-31, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei (台北市羅斯福路三段29-31號1樓)
Telephone: (02) 3365-2966
Open: Daily from 11am to midnight
Average meal: NT$600 for two
Details: Chinese and English menu; all major credit cards accepted; dinner reservations strongly recommended

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

At Cafe Grazie, team ordering is the way to go.


The area around Roosevelt Road in Gongguan is moving up in the world. Old concrete block buildings that resembled nothing so much as military barracks are being raised to make way for modern structures. Even where the old high-rises remain, the first floors have been renovated to suit the tastes of consumers with money to burn.

With its post-modern decor, Cafe Grazie fits right in. On the right side of the entrance are several private booths that seat between five and 10 people. The booths are separated by wrought iron bars shrouded in translucent gray curtains which, though tasteful, seem somehow off-putting for an Italian restaurant where one would expect to see wooden tables and open spaces. The post-industrial interior isn't so much discomforting as it is disorienting. Corners pop up everywhere, and the further one ventures inside, the more discombobulated one feels.

But if the interior requires a map to navigate, the menu is simple. There are the usual selections of pizza (NT$140 to NT$180) and pasta (NT$140 to NT$200), along with many different appetizers (NT$60 to NT$200) and desserts. The portions are somewhat limited but the quality more than makes up for it. And at these relatively cheap prices, patrons are meant to sample a variety many appetizers or pizzas. In addition to ordering individually priced dishes, diners are offered a flat price for three different specials.

Cafe Grazie's appeal lies in sharing. If cooperation in decision-making is the norm of a service society then this place should be given an award for taking the concept into a restaurant. Be sure to leave picky eaters and those who want to dominate the menu ordering at home.

The "party special" (NT$1,300) is meant to serve four to five people, or fewer, more gluttonous patrons, the choice of ordering eight appetizers out of 23 selected from the main menu, five of the menu's 20 entrees and a desert for each diner. Included in the price are cups of coffee or tea.

The dinner for two (NT$880), or "couple festival," offers an equally large selection of items to choose from and is a perfect way to pass Valentine's Day with that special someone.

Staff said customers who plan on arriving between 6pm and 8pm should make reservations. This reviewer did not and on a recent Wednesday was seated half hour after arriving.

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