A Deli for the Pond

MTIl Cucinino offers expensive deli items and desserts to eat in or to take out.
The area surrounding Spiridonovka at posh Patriarch's Ponds is rife with upmarket eateries and swish cafes, but until now there was no true delicatessen. The recently opened Il Cucinino seems to have filled that niche.

The deli/cafe resembles a miniature version of a Correa's in its design, with just a half-dozen or so small tables. The interior is extremely simple, with plain, yellow walls lined with shelves of foodstuffs that provide decoration. There is an open kitchen where the various deli goods are prepared. Standing in front of the kitchen is a large table displaying all the prepared food stacked in little bowls inside wicker baskets. Salami hangs above the display table.

None of the delicacies are marked their with prices in line with a rather strange price-listing policy. The menu, what there is of it, is not fixed and changes regularly. There is no beverage menu at all -- guests will need to ask the waiter to list the drinks and their prices. If you ask about alcoholic drinks, the waiter will direct you to a wall of wines -- none of which have their prices listed, again you need to ask. Wine is the only alcoholic beverage, and is only available by the bottle.

The brief hand-written menu lists almost everything by weight, with the exception of the desserts, which include semifreddo (350 rubles), tiramisu (350 rubles) and apple pie (350 rubles). Rib-eye steak sells at 440 rubles for 100 grams, and t-bone sells for 330 rubles for 100 grams. The antipasta selection costs 350 rubles for 100 grams. Pastas include various varieties of "bio-pasta" (410 rubles for 120 grams) and the eatery's regular pasta (450 rubles for 120 grams), while sauces range from 150 to 600 rubles.

Given these prices and with most dishes sold by weight, guests should expect a hefty bill at the end of the meal -- but then again, that comes with the neighborhood.

24/1 Ul. Spiridonovka, 291-9398,
9 a.m.-11 p.m., M. Pushkinskaya.