Italian Without the Frills

MTAssaggiatore's simple, light interior has a fresh, almost seaside feel.
Given its location in the middle of Ulitsa Ostozhenka -- also known as the heart of the Golden Mile -- Assaggiatore is something of a surprise.

Surrounded by apartments with sky-high price tags, this Italian eatery is remarkably down to earth. It has a light and modern interior that is totally devoid of gold, marble or rococo finishings. Instead, it opts for a totally subdued approach, with whitewashed brick walls, straightforward furnishings and shelves displaying various deli goods (the restaurant also sells a selection of various foodstuffs). It would seem that even the well heeled need a break from over-the-top opulence. Even the Wi-Fi is free.

The menu is large and includes all the dishes you'd expect to find in an unpretentious Italian eatery in Moscow. You've got the carpaccio (salmon -- 290 rubles, tuna -- 320 rubles and beef -- 350 rubles), a warm octopus salad (380 rubles) and it wouldn't be Moscow without ruccola with prawns (300 rubles). Soups include chicken noodle (180 rubles), minestrone (190 rubles) and seafood (350 rubles).

The sandwich selection avoids the pub-favorite club sandwich and instead offers the more interesting focaccia with grilled tuna (320 rubles) and a hot sandwich with artichoke and a choice of three different salamis (260 rubles).

The pizzas are particularly thin and particularly good, starting at 240 rubles for salami and going up to 350 rubles for seafood with pesto sauce. The pasta selection is also decent, beginning at 260 rubles for rigatoni alla norma and reaching 500 rubles for seafood spaghetti.

The wine list is extensive and includes some options that don't seem out of place when combined with a pizza. Glasses start at 100 rubles for red or white French wine, while bottles begin at around 600 rubles.

26/1 Ul. Ostozhenka, 767-5592, 24 hours, Park Kultury.