Al Barattolo occupies a rather fine spot looking onto the Piazza San Antonio in the heart of Trieste and for that reason it is perhaps a little more expensive than it should be. However, the ambience and the decor is so nice that one doesn't really begrudge a few euros extra. I was alone and didn't feel that I was hidden away like you can be in some establishments. Instead, I was seated in the heart of the restaurant at a normal sized table - just as well since the pizza took up so much space when it arrived! The restaurant was lively with a few family groups and, more bizarrely, several people with their dogs - usually in Trieste pink poodle-ish dogs with daft hairstyles!
The decor is quite rustic - stone walls, wooden tables - but with elegant touches and the tables were laid out very smartly. Service was swift and friendly, the waiters indulged my attempts to speak Italian with a dreadful accent. This is essentially a pizzeria that also does a few meat based main courses. Seafood is prominent on the menu. I went for an octopus salad to start; it was beautifully dressed - just the right amount of vinegar to cut through the tangy olive oil and what a portion! This would have made a more than acceptable main course. It was served with just warmed crusty bread which I had to drizzle with a little more olive oil (€7). I then had the seafood pizza or rather "pizza fondo mare" (which I think translates as "deep sea pizza"!) (€8). Add on a diet coke (€2.70) and a service charge of 15% (a bit steep I thought) and the total came to a shade over €20. However, a complimentary strega (a liquorice-tasting herbal flavoured liqueur) prepared me nicely to brave the cold outside and took the pain out of the bill. While the food was delicious, I could have the same meal further back in town for quite a bit less. My advice is to look to the back streets and find a local trattoria if you need to stick to a budget.
Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
December 4, 2006
From journal Short Trips to Trieste