Category: Nat’s Restaurants

Whenever I come to Istanbul I stay at “Radisson Blu Hotel” in Ortakoy. All my friends know that it is my second house. I like it because the rooms are fine and Ortakoy, where it is located, is the center of lots of summer bars, restaurants and cafes. “House Café” which is literally few steps away from my hotel’s entrance is one of the nice hangouts. Imagine a restaurant by the sea, where there is always a nice wind, with great cocktails, and very tasty international cuisine. Their only problem is service; the stuff is lovely but not very capable. I guess they hire young students who don’t have any idea about restaurant business. Don’t worry after an afternoon serving me, either they quit or they become professionals ;) )))
So when I woke up on Sunday, I was dreaming of their eggs benedicts. Finally ended up taking a bottle of rose and share a pizza. Once again they proved my theory, food excellent, and the service poor. The crowd well this is Turkey, so while a tourist is sitting on one side, some locals enjoying their lunch on the other, you could easily see a woman with her head covered having tea with her husband, sitting next to the table of the girl who has a mini, or I might say micro shorts sipping her chilled rose.
So I guess it shows very well what Turkey is about; a combination between Europe and Asia ….

That night we decided to go to my favorite Kebab Restaurant called “Venge”. Normally the restaurant is in 4. Levent area, but this summer they decided to rent a spot at Sortie as well. Very good idea because with the heat wave in Istanbul right now, the bosphorus air is always a blessing.
I would have thought it would be empty, but I was wrong. The crowd was composed of some French tourist that I believe the hotel sent some locals, some locals with non Turkish guests and us…
The system is simple, when you sit to your table, they bring you warm pide bread with cheese, and a lahmacun (mini Turkish pizza w ground beef and spices), and then the mezze plate comes where you chose your Turkish tapas to accompany your meat.

Once the mezzes on your table, your Raki (Pastis) chilled with ice you can start thinking about your main dishes… Venge is famous for their Doner Kebap (Turkish döner kebap, literally “turning roast”), is dish made of meat cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order. Unfortunately they didn’t have any, so we decided to take lamb chops and minced meat, no need to say delicious.
And finish dinner with their famous deserts to share, Irmik helva (Semolina helva) with vanilla ice cream inside, and Peynirli Künefe which is a sweet shredded pastry with cheese…. Well no need to say that these deserts are very light… I am sure if we follow eight watchers, we will get minus points with them ;)

Although the weather was too warm and humid it was a great night, I mean how you can not enjoy it…. Great food, great view, great company and amazing music….

I have spent my first day in Istanbul with my mother and sister. We did some shopping and from there we went to have a lunch at “Papermoon”. The Milanese restaurant that opened in Istanbul, and since had a great success. It is located by “Akmerkez”, which is one of the first shopping malls in Istanbul. Whenever I visit the city, I need to have lunch there with my girls. My lunch is generally composed of lots of wine, and “Spaghetti alla Bottarga”, (botargo) which is a cured fish roe delicacy. I love it so much that even if it is not on the menu, I ask the chef to make it for me… and guess what this is Turkey, where service is the key word, so I always have it

This time, as I have spend so much time in Italy eating pasta in all its shapes and ways, I decided to change and took a “Carpaccio of Pesce Spada” (swordfish carpaccio) followed by a “Cotoletta Milanese”, the classical breaded veal that you can also call Wienerschnitzel. But let’s admit sounds less sexy and appealing.

So after having good food, good wine, watching the Istanbul socialites having their lunch, we left the restaurant to continue our errands. And go back to our hotels for some rest.

In the evening I was meeting some friends at Biber, which is a bar, restaurant where you can taste good wines or drinks while nibbling tapas. It is situated in Sortie
For the ones who have never been to Istanbul in summer and saw those spots let me try to describe it for you. Imagine a great space by the Bosporus, in the middle of the space you have a big lounge bar, and around you have 4 – 5 restaurants. And each year great restaurants rent for summer those spaces (no kidding, they have to afford the rent…) and Biber is on the right of the main Bar, just by the water.

Biber is the hot spot this summer, everybody goes for happy hour and stays until wee hours, and I understood why… Service great, music and crowd great. Great selection of wine and yummy food…. And the best? It is not expensive!!!! So no kidding it is the happening spot, they found the secret ;)
So after staying there for a very long time, we decided to leave but were not ready to sleep yet… and some of us were hungry after all that chatting and drinks. So we took a cab and went to Kircicegi, which is in Ortakoy. It is a restaurant open 24/7, and has the best pide. The best way to describe a pide is Turkish folded pizza, the fold the pastry like a little boat and they fill in with whatever you want. The best combinations starts with Kasar cheese (Turkish parmesan), and then you add sucuk (Turkish spicy sausage) or pastirma (Turkish cured beef), or simply ground beef… I mean you have thousands of possibilities, and they are all yummy yum yum…

To sum it all, another “healthy” day, lots of food, lots of drinks and lots of shopping… but guess what, it is the pleasure of life…. so it is worth it. I would be healthy again when the sun would go away. And it is a crime to not eat in Turkey, and a bigger crime to not drink when you are with friends… and well you know me and shopping ;) ))

On my quest to find the beach where I had incredible food last year, I found another one. The restaurant of the “Bagno Angelo”. You could see that the food was good, cause it was full… with locals.
We started with a focaccia and some salad… you know to pretend that we are healthy ;) off course with our Italian Rose…

Then we all took pasta, I had with my spaghetti with mixed sea food; and it was delicious. My friends took al astice and al arselle. They really enjoyed theirs as well. Telling you that restaurant is a keeper, and I am gonna make sure to not forget the name this time.

That night we went to Pietrasanta, which is located few kilometers from Forte.
The area, like most of Tuscany in general, has long enjoyed the patronage of artists. Pietrasanta grew to importance during the 15th century, mainly due to its connection with marble. Michelangelo was the first sculptor to recognize the beauty of the local stone.
Today, the Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, the Dutch-born sculptor Hanneke Beaumont, the Danish sculptor Jens Flemming Sørensen as well as the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj and Polish F1 driver Robert Kubica have residences in the commune.

My friends had booked at “L’Enoteca Marlucci”, this restaurant run by a family literally means wine shop and has wooden tables in the wine shop and on the terrace.
Even though we arrived at 10pm, it was still buzzing with people eating and drinking. When we finally sat on our table… directly a plate of Tuscan cold cuts arrived. Their flavor is much more salty than the usual cold cuts from Italy. My friend explained me that it is why in Tuscany they make the bread unsalted, just to balance the taste.

As appetizers we shared zucchini flowers filled with cheese, and my Italian friend took the “papa al pomodoro” which is truly, one of the most delicious and simple soups you can make, originating in Tuscany and consisting of not much more than tomatoes, bread, and olive oil. He said it reminds him of his childhood, and grandmother cooking for him. I taste it, memories or not it was simply delicious.

Later we had a “la Bistecca Fiorentina”. A recipe that epitomizes the rustic simplicity of Tuscan cuisine, this Italian-style T-bone steak, is perfect for sharing.
The perfect way to describe it…. heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef… and they are resting it for a long time before cooking it.

No need to add anything, perfect food, perfect wine, perfect service, and on top of it great company. I heard that “Enoteca” is Paul Smith’s favorite restaurant, he even talks about it on his blog, now I understand why….

My second day in Forte dei Marmi started with a late breakfast followed by a great day at the beach. The beach that my friends spend the day is called “Bagno Beppe”. In Forte dei Marmi you rent a cabana and a area on the beach for the season. They give you a table some long chairs and some other chairs. At the end of your day at the beach, you leave your towels; they wash it and install the whole setting for you again.
The whole coast is full of beaches, some regular ones, some fancies, and some super fancies… very easy to spot them, they all have their towels. The very fancy ones are easy to spot, it is the spots where you only hear Russian… Our beach was a family one, so thankfully we only heard Italian around us ;)

At the end of the day we hit the town for aperitivo at “Sambo”, and yes the Milanese style, where while you drink you can eat from the buffet all kinds of delicious pizzas, cold cuts or vegetables… After being yelled because we almost sit on a table, who could “block” the service. Our lovely waitress spill the drinks on my friend, and instead of apologizing blamed her. Oh yeah because she was incapable of taking the right order, and as it was our fault.
Seriously at a point needed to check if I were in Paris or in Forte… I guess she had a bad night or it was that period of the month… anyway we ended up more laughing at it than anything else. But they say Sambo is famous, oh well … not sure if I would put my foot there again….

Two days ago, tired of waiting for the dates of my friends for Turkey, I decided to go to Forte dei Marmi.
The best way to go there would have been to fly to Pisa, but as there were no direct flights, I decided to fly to Florence and rent a car for Forte (which is exactly 101km). so after an hour of Fly Baboo flight, I landed in Florence.

The airport in Florence is so tiny that the arrivals and the departures are almost from the same door. And the car rental place is two steps away. I don’t know if they give a better deal or simply with my luck, the only line was in front of Avis.

I had some good memories (by good memories I mean good food experience) in Forte so I was looking forward to go back and have some more :) Unfortunately couldn’t find the restaurant on the beach that I loved last year, and believe me checked a lot of them…
So the first day we were my friend who invited me, her man and her baby daughter who is my new “friend” and we had some friends from Milan who joined us.

Our first lunch trial was at Bagno Graziella, we were all a bit disappointed as when we ordered our seafood spaghetti, we needed magnifying glasses to find the actual sea food… but after 2 bottles of prosecco, to be honest nobody cared about the food anymore.
We spent our afternoon at the beach where my “friend” of six months did her first sea experience; while another friend had her beach massage experience. And off course the rest of us continued our drinking experience…
Forte dei Marmi is a real family vacation spot, the thing that I love about it is that everyone, from 3 to 73 years old circulate with bikes… and f you go to restaurant with kids nobody looks at you, as if you committed a big crime… off course there are “playgrounds” for only adults: La Capannina di Franceshi and Twiga; or as I call them them Twingo and Copacabana ;)

Our first night we went to “Maito”. Honestly, even if you don’t want to go to Forte for vacation, you need to pass by Maito to eat…. I am still dreaming about their food. We started with a pizza Maito (pizza where each slice has a different taste), then everyone one took appetizers and entrees. The highlights???
“Crudo olio e limone” which is a mix of raw fish carpaccio, “The spaghetti ai scampi”, which is spicy pasta with scampi; “Filetto al aceto balsamico” which is a filet mignon that literally melts in your mouth with a balsamic reduction and also the”Cotolette alla Milanese”, which is a basic breaded veal scallop.
The only disappointing dish was the “Spaghetti all’arragosta”, lobster spaghetti, as it was too salty.

We went to eat it was 10pm passed and the restaurant was still full. The crowd… a bit of everything; some families with their kids falling asleep on the table, some people who were dresses to impress and some foodies like us.

After dinner we decided to choose the third adult playground: ” home” where we had the music we wanted and the drinks we wished… and believe me our party lasted way long after the others finished ;) ))

My friend wanted to invite me for lunch for my birthday, and as it was a kind of rainy day, we decided to not risk and instead of doing a terrace, eat somewhere inside.
“La table du 9” is a restaurant that I normally go in winter, as they have great starchy fresh food. And it always hits the right spot in cold winter days.

When we arrived a great smell was coming out of the kitchen, which didn’t help calming our hunger. Unfortunately 20 minutes later, no one had come to take our order, neither brought us bread.
I started to lose my patience… don’t mess with me when I am hungry. Every time she would say I am coming and would run to another table. With all the fairness she was the only one zig zaging and serving the room. The only help she had was someone just taking out the dishes.

When she finally came to our table, I told her that if she had came 5 minutes later; we wouldn’t be there as it had been already 20 minutes that we were waiting. She asked me to not “exaggerate” and continued by saying “anyway, what you want”. She was lucky it was already late and we were really hungry (and my friend had invited me), otherwise we would have left the place right that minute.
So I just replied to her that it wasn’t a way to talk to clients and thought that she can dream about any tip.

We shared an appetizer, and only then the bread decided to join our meal. She had taken a wrong order for the entree, so I ended up being the only one with a dish. My friend had to wait 10 more minutes before having hers…. Oh and no apologies!!!

The food is still good and fresh, although a bit too much olive oil in everything. I agree it gives a good taste, but don’t make swim my food in it.

So in summary, ok food, bad service, and “I don’t care attitude” which is the worst for me. Maybe they should make the staff live on tips like in the US. I am not saying the service would be better but at least they would work better to earn their tip, and even do it with a smile to have a bigger tip…

Hello everyone, I know I know it has been a while that I didn’t give you news. And believe me there are lots of news to give. First of all thank you to all my friends for their wonderful messages for my birthday!!! You know it is really good to be me ;)

Now let me tell you what I have done the last few weeks. I enjoyed the sunny weather and went out a lot in Geneva. I did a crazy week-end in Milan, and I had an amazing week in Sardinia.
I will talk about my trips later; but for now let me talk to you about my birthday, and what I did …
Last year I did a big thing in Istanbul, so this year wanted to go mellower and I wasn’t really in the mood of organizing a big party. This year my sister, who kept asking me what I wanted to do, decided to stop waiting on me and called some friends and organize a small dinner at the Hotel President Wilson.

Hotel President Wilson is situated by the lake on the rive droite, and has a great lounge/terrace around the pool, and a restaurant called “Bayview”. This summer they do every Thursday night happy hour and they bring little canapés from their Lebanese restaurant, “Arabesque”. I never managed to go to any and I really wanted to try it, so I could talk about it.

The place is really beautiful; you have a great view of the lake. The only inconvenient; and this is more for the hotel guests, the “pool” view is actually “room” view. The pool is built in the middle of the building, so one side of it has the rooms with no tinted windows. This basically means when you ask a room with lake view, you have the pool and the restaurant view as well. And you have the opportunity to offer a peep show to the diners ;) Joke aside I think it is a pity to have a beautiful view, but never enjoy it because you keep your curtains closed as you are scared people might see you in your room’s intimacy…

At my table I was sitting pool/room view side as I know how the Leman Lake looks like and I am more curious what happens in the rooms…
You can chose between two menus and a la carte dishes; as we like to be complicated, my mother asked the Maitre d’ to talk to the Lebanese restaurant and that we wanted some food from them as well. Yes yes I know, the apple never falls to far from the tree, why do you think I became whom I am :)
What I like about the restaurant is that instead of giving us the typical answer “oh we cannot do that, house rules”, they right away called someone from the other restaurant so we can be happy. Believe me, it might seem so what to some of you, but in Geneva, it is a big plus.

We ended up sharing few appetizers from the Bayview restaurant, and few dishes from the Arabesque restaurant. The food was quite decent, we had bubbles to celebrate. I think the only thing that I can criticize would be the service. They are all lovely but they should come and check on us more often. We ended up doing our own Champagne service, as we would have died of thirst waiting for them to pay us attention. I am happy that they were not like my water filler waiter (the one from La Finestra) but come on, find the middle. Especially when you consider that the income of a restaurant is based more on the drinks than on food….

Oh well, I had a good evening, great company and the most important great gifts ;) and if you are still curious, no peep show from a hot guest, just someone who was very into dental hygiene (he brushed his teeth for at least 6 minutes)…

Thank you sis to organize, thanks mom to invite and thanks guys to be there!!!!

The rest of my trip in Costa Smeralda passed between shopping and tanning and having “Bellinis” which is a long drink where you mix prosecco and peach puree at the piazzetta in Porto Cervo.

I tried several beaches, but ended up most of the time at the beach of Hotel Pitrizza, with white sand and Liscia di Vasca Bay’s transparent water… do I need to add more? Well if you really insist, full of merchants who sell hats, jewelry, pashmina and beach dresses…
All my vendor friends come from Pakistan and besides helping to do my shopping fix; they let me do my bargaining fix as well ;)

At nights, after doing some more shopping in Porto Cervo, and believe me there are lots of temptations. My pleasure was to sip my Bellini while watching people, especially Flavio Briatore and his carefully selected guests (such as Valentino), followed by paparazzi. I guess Valentino Garavani is the reference person in Porto Cervo, as even when I would look for a jewelry, the owner would tell me with his Italian accent “you know Valentino Garavani bought this the other day”.
Happy for him, so would that mean that I need to color my hair like him as well? Oh wait my hair is colored like that already, although it looks more natural on me than him ;)

Anyway, and I tried some restaurants, nice fish restaurant in Poltu Quatu called Tanit. And my last night went to the most famous restaurant in Porto Cervo, “Gianni Pedrinelli”
Gianni Pedrinelli is when you want to indulge in the secrets of the sardic and italian cuisine. It’s not your usual bling-ridden eatery in Porto Cervo. Everybody is treated the same way. And you can enjoy the amazing food, while you see some celebrities with their families. I just saw Yamani celebrating his son’s birthday.
But girls, some sources told me that George Clooney loves it too.

It was the best way of finishing my journey. I fell in love again with Costa Smeralda, although I believe one week is more than enough. Looking forward to go back next year though ;)

In Costa Smeralda, you have few clubs that have been there forever, and Sopravento makes part of them. This yearthey have decided to give a new face lift and concept to it. The official birth date would be on July 23rd, but I had a sneak peak before…

I ended up there on my last evening with my friends. Someone had caught lots of tuna fish that day, so instead of cooking them home; decided to bring it to Cortes. The owner was happy to ask to his chef to cook it for us, and used the opportunity to have a pre-opening test run … And don’t worry I behaved ;)

The concept is simple; with over 2000 square meters, Cortes has a restaurant which is open for lunch as well; a show club where you can enjoy DJs as well as live music and shows; an art gallery and an exclusive luxury corner shops area.
So I can easily call it a “full option spot”!!!

As I was there before the grand opening, I can only say that the cook is quite talented and creative, because basing a whole dinner on tuna (3 courses plus desert), you need to have ideas. And believe it or not, we didn’t have it with pasta… The atmosphere was great, besides the beautiful setting, loved the live music accompanying the DJ.

My only concern was the trip to the bathroom; it is a good walk, so you have to plan ahead and maybe a pack a snack for the road… Joke aside, I wish I were still in Porto Cervo for the opening, so I could see and enjoy the night, and compare with my private one ….
And I guess the crowd would be more my type of crowd than the one Flavio attracts at the Billionaire ;)
So if you are around, you should definitely give a shot!!!

After a glorious first day and night in Sardinia, we decide to take our second day relaxed. So we spent the day on the boat getting tanned, and at night decided to walk around “Porto Cervo” before our dinner.

Porto Cervo is the main center of Costa Smeralda . It is surrounded by a marina, sport clubs, shopping promenade, luxurious boutiques, and nightlife of its own. I remembered from my last visit that they were great shopping spots, and you know me and shopping ;)
This time I just checked around as in few days I was supposed to stay at Cervo Hotel, so lots of time to shop.

After a short shopping session and a drink at the piazza, we went to a restaurant that my friends had already been couple of days ago, and couldn’t stop talking about.

It is called “Ristorante La Petronilla”, just a bit further of the bling bling of Porto Cervo. It is a small restaurant, that has a a big wine cellar, and the owner; Massimo Scardovi was the one who took our orders and served us. I am even suspecting that he even is the one who cooked.

If you are looking for a restaurant where you can see the “who is who” of the Italian and international jetset; then avoid La Petronilla. We were there for the food; we started with “vongole e mitilo”, which are clams and mussels cooked in a wine sauce, followed by pasta.
My friends were dreaming about their “spaghetti ai ricci di mare” (sea urchins spaghetti) and I went with “spaghetti al granseola” (spider crabs spaghetti). Result….. at the idea I am still salivating….

The restaurant was quite empty, I guess due to the lack of a decent terrace. Even though they say they have AC I have to admit it was a bit too warm; it must be the Italian way…. meaning a machine that blows the air that we the rest of the world call an “electric fan”.
You know me how I hate the heat, so if I am willing to go back, it means that the food was really delicious. And if you are around and want to spend a chill night with great food, give a chance to “La Petronilla” and please let me know how much you enjoyed the food ;) Bon appetit!!!!