“ Address: Damrak 58 / Amsterdam 1012 / Netherlands „
On our most recent trip to Amsterdam, I spotted a restaurant on the Damrak advertising ribs and steaks. This wasn't of interest to me as a vegetarian, but I knew it would be to my partner. What was of interest to me was the fact that it was an Italian restaurant - which meant pizza for me.
So one night we decided to try this restaurant for dinner. The sign named it as Ristorante Italiano, but I thought that must be there so that people knew what it was without having to look at the menu. However, having checked online before writing this review, I have come to realize that it is, in fact, called Ristorante Italiano. Imaginative.
There are seats outside the restaurant, but as it was still a bit cool at the end of March, we went inside. We were shown to a table by a waitress; the restaurant has some tables just inside the entrance, but most of them are up some stairs at the back, on a kind of mezzanine level, something I've seen in a few restaurants in Amsterdam. The decor was fairly simple: some nice pictures on the walls, and red and white checked tablecloths. The lighting was bright, unusual for a restaurant like this.
While we were browsing our menus, we discovered one of the best things (for us) about the restaurant. A little black and white cat was wandering among the tables, and came over to us when we called. As cat lovers, we adore the fact that in Amsterdam (and probably the Netherlands as a whole) cats come and go from shops, cafes and restaurants at will. We've seen them perched on top of shop tills, lounging in windows full of cigars for sale, and roaming around a closed opticians (that one was concerning - presumably Dutch cats are better behaved than Scottish ones, because our three would have wrecked the whole stock within minutes). Anyway, Ristorante Italiano had an adorable little cat who wandered under our table and wound itself around our ankles. While this was something we liked, I appreciate that not everyone would. This is something to bear in mind in Amsterdam, not just the Ristorante Italiano.
With our new friend strolling around the restaurant, we placed our order. We ordered some bruschetta to share, my partner chose spaghetti bolognese, having decided he wanted pasta while in an Italian restaurant, and I of course chose a pizza, a vegetarian one with the usual veggie toppings.
The bruschetta was delicious, with lots of topping and the bread toasted just right, but we didn't really need it. My pizza was quite large, the crust nice and crispy but the base melt-in-the-mouth. The toppings were very generous, and it was all very tasty. I like my food, especially pizza, but it was a bit much for me and I couldn't finish it, despite my best efforts. My partner never had a chance against his spaghetti - the pile on his plate was mountain sized. Even to a vegetarian, it looked very good, and he certainly enjoyed it, although it was too much.
Service was good and very unobtrusive. The waitress was quite quiet and discreet, although perhaps we were just distracted by the cat. We both had soft drinks, and the prices for food and drink were fairly average for Amsterdam; the total bill came to around EUR 35.
We hadn't planned to visit Ristorante Italiano; in fact, if we had considered it beforehand, we would have said we were very unlikely to visit as we already have a favourite Italian restaurant in Amsterdam. However, we had a very nice meal and would consider eating there again next time we are in the city - and not just because of the cat.