Reviews

Colosseum Restaurant, Paphos

Restaurant review
By Nan Mackenzie, Cyprus Mail

Frederico Fellini once said that it’s easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman. I don’t all together agree with him; yes we might find that one perfect eatery, will congratulate ourselves on finding such a gem of a place, we visit regularly, family and friends will join us, we make friends with the owner, then, after a time the lure of another new restaurant tempts us and we forget about our once favourite eatery. We have all at some time or another been guilty of indulging in ‘restaurant affairs’ sometimes pretending loyalty to one but secretly sneaking off to try pastures or pastas new.

The bonus however of being a serial foodie adulterer is in the sure and certain knowledge that old loves will always welcome you back, will generously ignore past indiscretions, exactly what happened when I walked back into the Colosseum Restaurant. I first ate here 13 years ago when Nicos Charalambous launched his Italian-themed eatery and for several years I was a solid and regular fan of his cooking, until my taste buds started to stray.

Nicos, being the gentleman that he is, didn’t even raise an eyebrow nor did he demand an explanation for my extended absence but warmly welcomed me back, poured a glass of wine, then disappeared, only to return with a plate of his perfectly marinated beef Carpaccio nestling on a bed of crisp rocket, topped with slivers of glistening fresh parmesan. He had remembered my favourite starter. It was game on from then, with a follow up dish of perfectly cooked prawns followed by a glorious pepper steak so tender one could cut it with a butter knife.

I was back, once again relishing the marvellous veranda where diners can sit high above street level and feel they are safe in a haven of white linen, where comfort food leaning to the very best of Brassiere is served with still clear markers that there is also a serious kitchen at work here.

Nicos also boasts a serious Cava where champagnes lay waiting, and Italian, French, Australian and about every other country that has a reputation for quality wines also lie for those whose love of food is equal to the seductive lure of the grape.

Homemade pasta has always been excellent here with 14 different varieties to choose from, including Nicos’ very proper lasagne, or his now infamous ravioli which he stuffs with porcini mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and fresh cream, or the decidedly different and delicious taste of Fagotti stuffed with ricotta and black truffle then cooked with fresh cream and gorgonzola cheese and port wine. The a la carte menu offers Irish steaks, fish, a variety of seafood dishes, chicken, pork and lamb but for those on a budget I can heartily recommend the Value Meal. This will delight both the appetite and the wallet as its priced at a mere €12.99 and offers a choice of seven starters, including Lasagne and Calamari, Fritto, then you choose from seven main dishes with lamb shanks, a rib eye steak, or stuffed chicken, then to finish a selection of four puddings plus a complimentary glass of wine. Few if any establishments can come close to matching this value menu not just on price but on the sheer quality of the ingredients, not forgetting the very comfortable setting, plus, on special entertainment nights you can also enjoy free live entertainment.

Thank you Nicos for having me back again, I will try not to have any more one night stands… well … maybe… just the odd one here or there?

FULL REVIEW

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Colosseum Review - UK Food Critic, Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Written by Phil_Howcroft

Overall rating - 9.5
Food - 9.0
Service - 10.0
Atmosphere - 9.0
Value For Money - 10.0

The Colosseum, Paphos, Cyprus

I first visited this fantastic restaurant in October 2007 following a review I read online, and was so impressed that I have organized to take my parents back this spring. The experienced staff guarantee a warm welcome, and the whole restaurant carries an air of professionalism, normally found in the likes of The Ivy, Gordon Ramsey at Claridges, Gordon Ramsey Verve, Chez Bruce London, Burj Al Arab's'Al Mahara'.

Wine lovers will appreciate the extensive range of wines both red and white, I choose a bin end Australian Red and it was perfect. The setting is very relaxed and the staff are great, taking time out to spend chatting about the menu and going out of the way for you. The extensive menu offers tempting dishes – all using local produce. I opted for the Tiger prawns in a tomato sauce, which was in fact the best sauce I have ever tasted the. The combination of the delicate and delicious melt in the mouth prawns was amazing, I could have eaten them all over again. My girlfriend chose a Caesar salad, something you would not expect to be very spectacular; but I found myself torn between the refreshing crispiness of the salad and the flavors of the perfectly cooked tiger prawns. We both agreed that these dishes deserved 10/10 each, and were of course presented artistically.

Moving on to the main course, we both chose steak - my girlfriend had steak Diane and myself steak in a peppercorn sauce. I admit that I am extremely particular about the way I like my steak to be cooked, and so I went to great lengths to explain to the waiter how I wanted it.

This information was relayed excellently to the chef, as when it arrived it was cooked to perfection. I can safely say that I have not had a steak as good before or since, and its not as if I haven’t eaten in good restaurants before – Rick Stein’s, Jamie Oliver’s and Gordon Ramsey’s are among some of the most prestigious places I have been to. Yet this understated restaurant has managed to impress me the most.

Considering I had given all the food sampled 10/10 so far, I decided I must try a dessert. I ordered crepes Suzette with ice cream. When it arrived I was a little disappointed – although the sauce was lovely, the crepe itself was not fresh. I asked to speak to the chef as I couldn’t believe that they could possibly get the dessert so wrong after all that delicious food! Nicos, the owner, did explain to me that the crepes were not cooked to order due to time constraints in the kitchen, and immediately offered to make me something else. However, I was fully satisfied with what I had already eaten and so declined. He then took me on a tour of the vast range of wines and brandies he stored, where he proceeded to offer me a complementary brandy of his choice – for me this was the perfect way to round off one of the best meals I have ever had.

The Colosseum is without a doubt a high quality restaurant, offering first class service accompanied by appropriate prices. It has impressed me so much that I have taken the time to write this, to urge people to have the same experience by visiting. Time spent in Pathos, or even Cyprus, would not be complete without a visit to The Colosseum. This is defiantly the best Modern Italian food in Cyprus, do not miss an opportunity to go.

Phil Howcroft Worldwide Food Critic UK, October 2007.

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Eyes up

Restaurant review
By Jill Campbell Mackay

Easy to miss, the Colosseum restaurant in Paphos is well worth the trip. It’s always much easier to sit down and write a sizzlingly bad food review, mainly because there is such a limited vocabulary available when it comes to describing good food whereas with bad food there’s no such poverty of language. But, people don’t really want to know where to go to experience a dodgy dinner. It’s always the reverse, they want to know, when planning a meal out, that there is a fair chance they will not regret the decision. So when one discovers an establishment that doesn’t muck around with the food, is friendly, wholesome, reasonably priced and with excellent wines then we feel moved to shout about it.

The food language at the Colosseum is pure Italian; well half really as Nico Charalambous, chef and owner of the restaurant, is only half Italian. But it’s the all-essential cooking half inherited from his mother. Most readers who know Paphos will be scratching their heads saying ‘where is the Colosseum Restaurant?’ And ‘if it’s been open for three years, why didn’t we know about it’? It’s because many of us browsing for bruschetta, bolognaise or bisteca barolo rarely, if ever, cast our eyes higher than street level and so miss out on the town’s many attractive roof-top restaurants.

Another reason for not venturing higher is the always present fear factor. ‘What if I make my way up all these stairs and it turns out the place is a veritable culinary wilderness and I’m trapped?’ It’s winter and the splendid roof-top area of the Colosseum is closed so you make your way into what looks like a cosy reproduction of a classic Ristorante: soft lighting, plenty of room between tables, candles and full silver service. Mercifully there’s no piped muzak, just a calm quiet environment where one can pay homage to some seriously good wines and tuck into a good variety of classic Italian nosh.

We started with a small meze of appetisers, voting high points for the Gorgonzola-stuffed mushrooms, even higher for the Melanzane Parmigiana, a simple dish to muck up even though most kitchens turn out a sour and sad, mushy mess - here it was cooked to perfection. Nico is justifiably proud of his marinated raw fillet of beef in the form of a delicious Carpaccio al Parmigiano. The Piccata Picanti, pork fillet with chillies, tomato sauce and rosemary was a big hit with my dining partner. I plumped for the equally tasty Pollo Colosseum, which combined chicken, green peppers, mushrooms, and cream, served with a portion of juicy risotto.

At the table next us, a party of four English couples were enjoying what must be the most bargainous set menu meal in the whole of Paphos. For the remarkably reasonable price of £7.95 they were able to select from four starters, then from six main courses, which included a fresh grilled sea bream, pepper or gorgonzola steak, then puddings, plus a free bottle of wine per four diners.

Here portions are hearty, the quality is good and every dish we tasted had that definite home-made sauce and fresh, stock-pot flavour. No doubt about it, we will be returning, not only for the food but also to experience the excellent ministering of the waiting staff in the delightful form of Olga, who also doubles as an accomplished piano player. But, fear not, she does not sit there all night furiously tickling the ivories so you then give up on the power of speech as yet another Sinatra ditty abuses your auditory system. It’s only at the end of the evening that you are treated to a little Bach or Beethoven and very nice it is too.

Speciality Good sauce combinations.
Kids welcome.
Seating inside 40, outside 60.
Where 101 Daneas Street, Olympian Complex, Kato Paphos (next door to the Theofano Hotel)
Contact 26 913278
Booking advisable
Price

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The pasta maker

By Jill Campbell Mackay
(archive article - Sunday, September 25, 2005)

WE SHOULD all feel deeply grateful to King Ferdinand of Naples.It was he who in the 18th century called upon the best inventive minds in Italy to come up with an automated process for the making of pasta. This was perhaps an understandable move, due to the fact that his Majesty was not entirely happy with the traditional method of mixing the semolina dough… by foot.
So, thanks to the engineering skills of one Cesare Spadaccini was born the considerably more hygienic pasta-making machine.

Cypriot Fedros Atzinis is also deeply grateful, for over four years he has been making a creditable living from Signor Spadaccini’s invention, making much of the quality dry and fresh pasta currently served in our better restaurants and hotels. Before he took the plunge into pasta manufacture, Fedros worked at the famous Trattoria Romantica in Nicosia and to this day he credits the owners with having taught him all there is to know about the making and serving of pasta.

Now based, in Limassol his wholesale pasta factory churns out an average of three to four tons of the stuff a month, in all shapes and colours, from Spaghetti, Tagliatelle, Lasagne, Tortellini, Tortelloni, Papardelle, and a variety of delicious pre-stuffed Ravioli. The machines needed to make this highly popular foodstuff are not cheap, with the top of the range pasta machine weighing in at one ton and a half; it needs a minimum of 50 kilos of semolina to start functioning and this Ferrari of the pasta world currently costs in the region of £40,000 to buy from Italy.

Then there’s a baby version which creates different shaped pasta, and finally the investment in a ravioli making machine, all of which makes Fedros’ venture in Cyprus unique, no one else having either these specialist machines or the experience necessary to make such excellent pasta in all shapes and sizes.

Is there is a limit to what you can stuff or serve with proper Italian pasta. “No, I haven’t reached that limit if indeed there is one, which I doubt because pasta is so brilliantly flexible and easy to experiment with that there are seemingly endless combinations. “I am often asked to create designer pastas for special occasions, ravioli for example with a foie gras filling, herbed pasta is also very popular now, and I also make a Green Tea pasta. I even made ravioli for a customer with a special coffee stuffing. “So far, I see no end to what we can come up with to satisfy customers’ tastes.”

Fedros is no slouch when it comes to cooking and experimenting with his pasta; he was after all trained by the CIA – no, not that one, the other one, the Culinary Institute of America based at Greenville South Carolina. Naturally, when two chefs get together, food becomes not so much a passion as a way of life. They will talk about what they eat, how they eat it, how it was cooked. Food chat like this is as natural as talking about the weather to an Englishman.

Nico Charalambous, owner/chef of the Paphos based Coliseum restaurant is a regular customer. Both will sit, drink espresso (Italian of course) and talk pasta, sauces, and stuffings. They also like to partner up and try out different combinations of pastas and sauces. That’s when we put the challenge to them to come up with what they agreed were the very best of pasta, sauce, and stuffing combinations, using of course Fedros’ own fresh and also dried products. So they joined forces to offer a special tasting session with a banquet of different pastas, all of which were first hand-made in Limassol, then cleverly sauced up in the kitchens of the Coliseum Restaurant in Paphos.

Fedros and Nico made Spaghetti surf and turf, a combination of king prawn, steak, and an onion and tomato sauce. Next, Tagliatelle Tricolore (a special egg spinach and cuttlefish ink tagliatelle) with accompanying smoked salmon, cream and green pepper sauce. A peppery and garlicky Tripolin, followed by the lasagne. Then it was a taste of the Casarecce/ Strozapreti which is Italian village-style pasta, quite thick and short and cooked to perfection, along with Fedros’ popular signature pasta, the Porcini filled Ravioli served with a blue cheese cream and sun dried tomato sauce. His other hand made ravioli is filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, and he also supplies a monster sized but surprisingly delicate Torteloni with pancetta and ricotta.

Fedros Atzinis, Pasta Fresca, Soudas 18c, 3048 Limassol. Tel: 25-877481, 99-612021;
pastafresca@cytanet.com.cy

Competition:
Cyprus Mail readers are asked to submit their favourite pasta recipe and win a month’s supply of fresh pasta. Post, Fax or e-mail your recipe by Sunday October 9 to: Cyprus Mail, P.O. Box 21144, Nicosia; Fax 22-676385; E-mail mail@cyprus-mail.com. Entries will be judged by Nico and Fedros and the winning recipe will be published in the Sunday Mail on October 16.

Colosseum Restauran By Karen Roe, Cyprus Living December, 2006 - Download PDF file.

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