Growing up in Croatia and eating the finest of Mediterranean cuisine, including my mom’s and grandma’s impeccable cuisine, I was born to be a self-proclaimed foodie master! 😀 I’ve always loved good food and my standards to what tastes good have developed through the years, so by this age, if I’m eating at home, I make sure to buy only the high quality ingredients when cooking my lunches and dinners because I’d rather buy something bit more expensive in the food aisle and save on that 10th, unnecessary skirt for the Spring/ Summer “wardrobe refreshment”!
Yeah, I know, not so fashion thing of me to do. When I do go out for a lunch or dinner, I wanna go to places which deserve a dollar to be spent there… There’re way too many restaurants nowadays but not many do give what they ask you to pay for. Bummer, I know, so that’s why I’m more than happy to once again bring you an article from my cycle of “Visit Helsinki” posts in which I’m presenting you the best places to visit, dine at, hotels to stay at, etc. in case that you find yourself visiting my city this Summer perhaps! 🙂
If you are a local or somebody who’s living nearby, even better, then you get to test these places even sooner and share your experiences with me!
Going back to me growing up in Croatia, I have practically lived on an Italian food for a good amount of my life. I know how “the real” Italian food should taste and look like, so upon moving to Helsinki, Finland almost 9 years ago, I didn’t really have a chance to satisfy my Italian cuisine cravings. What was presented to me here as “Italian food” was a far cry from that. Ever since, I’ve been on a hunt for the real deal and I finally found it at Toscanini restaurant ran by a proper Italian chef! Hallelujah!! Pasta perfection here I come!
Toscanini restaurant is a “house restaurant” of a design hotel Klaus K which happens to be one of my favourite hotels ever. That’s how I came in “touch” with Toscanini for the first time about a year ago, by ordering in a room service for dinner. I remember thinking that my dinner was so delicious that I must pay a visit to this restaurant in person and not only via room service delivery.
I did it… Ok, a year later, but I still did it and guess what? The food is absolutely amazing and if I wasn’t looking outside the window on the Boulevard street and seeing the Finnish “Spring weather”, I would totally think that I’m in Italy, by the sea and any moment now Eros Ramazzotti songs will start blowing from the speakers. 😀
Besides weekly changing lunch menu, Toscanini are serving a full course, a-la carte menu in the evening times and over the weekend. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody and I’m so happy to see a menu which is not 3 meters long one with various pasta and pizza options, as it’s usually the case with all of the touristy versions of Italian restaurants I’m used to see around.
As starters we’ve opted for fish and seafood soup aka bouillabaisse flavoured with chilli and garlic bread and San Daniele ham cured for 18 months and a modern version of crispy bruschetta with Buffalo mozzarella cheese. The soup was one of the most delicious fish soups ever. I could “taste” the sea, it was so fresh and a perfect starter for a fish lover like me while ham + mozzarella might have looked like a simple combo but the explosion of tastes was incredible.
Main courses were perfect follow ups to starters – fresh spaghetti chittarra with oyster mushrooms and crispy Parmesan cheese and fresh rigatoni pasta with juniper flavoured hare ragu.
My mushroom pasta was so simple, but perfectly creamy and satisfying perfection of mushroom and cheese taste while the hare ragu made in red wine and tomato sauce was cooked to perfection and had a wonderfully balanced and rich taste. I don’t have to mention that both pastas were cooked al dente, which is also something I had problems with finding in Helsinki.
To complete the already successful Italian feast, we couldn’t pass on classics like Tiramisu which is truly the best one in this city and Citrus semifreddo with chocolate cake and berries. We loved every single spoonful and left back home with smiling faces and dreams of Italy.
*This post has been made in collaboration with Toscanini restaurant, all of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you to Miss Sissi E. for making this collaboration happen.
*Photography by Natali K. photography