Imagine being able to stroll around, basket in hand and take your pick of imported chocolates, authentic Italian pasta, and cheese. Well, you can. Old Town Italy opened up shop in Menlyn Maine’s Central Square on the 28th of September and it is a foodie’s dream. Once you enter the restaurant, the space is bustling with people chatting away, detailed décor and signage, and various Italian treats stalls manned by friendly staff. The restaurant is whimsical with perfectly curated shelving that is home to a variety of imported culinary goods and freshly prepared baked treats. The owners successfully attempted to create a space where visitors can break away to the old world charm of the Italian countryside. As the name suggests, the restaurant is made to encapsulate some of what a small old town in Italy would be like, filled with fresh produce, your village butcher and of course the baker. Idyllic, right? If I had to imagine a hyperreality of perfect little Italy, this would be it. With so many to-do’s and appointments clogging up schedules, this is a welcome escape from the usual treading water.
Shop at Old Town
Walking around Old Town Italy reminded me of a very low key and intimate stroll around the food departments of places like Galeries La Fayette or Harrods. The fresh produce is almost too pretty to eat and the chocolates I would most certainly love to savour on a special occasion. Each food ‘stall’ is filled with alluring goodies. Choosing between the gelato, the baked yummies, the imported chocolates, olive oil and wines, the butchery and charcuterie and all the delicious cheeses it decidedly difficult. Not only, can you do some very pretty grocery shopping, this is the perfect place to do some gift or home decor shopping.
Dine at Old Town
The menu mimics the authentic décor with pasta dishes steering clear of the likes of clichéd Italian cuisine, but still keeping to its roots. With choices that include creating a deli board from the variety of imported cured meats and cheeses available or sticking to traditional antipasti, main and dessert. I’m never one to easily pick a pasta dish off the menu, so I decided to put theirs to the test. We chose a fillet carpaccio starter to start off the evening, after which I ordered the gorgonzola gnocchi. Now for someone who doesn’t like pasta with a cream base, I can attest to the fact that the gorgonzola gnocchi is beyond dreamy. In fact, I would be able to have some right now. We stopped by within the first week of Old Town opening and unfortunately the service was not fantastic. But, and this is a very big but, the staff are very friendly and helpful, which in my opinion trumps a mistake any day of the week. I look forward to going back and finding everything in tip top shape. For dessert, we had coffee of course! Great care has been taken to make sure that the drinks menu has a wide variety of authentic Italian beverages. The menu consists of an extensive selection of Italian wines, Italian craft beer, Prosecco, Limoncello, Grappa and imported Vanchi hot chocolate for the sweet-toothed patrons. La Dolcé Vita Caffé, the coffee of choice at Old Town, is available in three blends. Their house blend Lusso is a robust and rich coffee, the perfect end to a meal.
All in all, Old Town Italy was a great experience and I would highly recommend that you stop by. Even just for some gift shopping. The restaurant is open from Monday to Sunday 7:00 to 21:00. Old Town Italy operates on a first come, first serve basis so there is no need to make a booking.
All images copyright of Rita Hello. Please do not reuse without permission and give credit where it is due. All opinions are my own.