Seeing the Venetian influences all around Chania we felt sure there were going to be a number of excellent Italian restaurants in the area. However, it has not been as easy as anticipated to locate one; but we are in Crete, not Italy after all!
A number of restaurants in Chania had been suggested to us by a local travel agency and one afternoon I perused the various reviews on TA. Don Rosario came up and having read the great reviews, we wanted to try it. Positive comments from a number of native Italians were helpful.
We visited the restaurant on Sunday 18 September 2016.
We are staying in Aptera and had unknowingly driven past the restaurant, which is just set off the main road near the Souda turning, the night before. The restaurant has a welcoming look and has a large area outside under the trees filled with tables. We were given choice of where we wanted to sit.
It was lovely to be at a restaurant which had proper material table cloths and napkins, as opposed to paper serviettes.
We were greeted by a lovely waitress from Albania who could speak a wide range of languages. She was impressive. She handed us the menus and took her time to explain all the specials. She knew what went into every dish and how they were cooked; answering any questions we had. She had worked helping prepare the food in the kitchen for a couple of months so knew what she was talking about. She made the point that if we wanted something as a starter that was listed as a main, they would do their best to accommodate this.
We chose to share the insalata del berone (which comprised potatoes, tomatoes, and celery amongst other bits with a balsamic and oil dressing) from the specials list to start (€8,50). It was a big portion and the left over dressing at the bottom was great to dip your bread in. We were served two large chunks of fresh homemade crusty bread. The salad was incredibly fresh and tasty; a meal in itself. Absolutely delicious. I can't quite remember, but I don't think the bread was charged to us as is usually the custom in restaurants we have visited in Crete.
For mains, my partner had the guazzetto di vongole e gamberi (shrimp and clams in a jus) (€15,50) and I opted for the salsiccia alla griglia con pasta al pesto silciliano (homemade pork sausage with pesto pasta) (€13,50). Both were incredible. The flavour on the sausages was like nothing you might get in the supermarket and we were told that they comprised just pork, fennel and pepper. I would have liked a bit more pesto on the pasta but that's because I am a big fan of pesto and generally greedy with it. The taste of the shrimp and clam broth probably did just slightly beat the sausage dish but only just. It was light but with an incredible flavour. Just superb. The portions were large and we were stuffed by the end.
Strangely we weren't offered a dessert and were brought, what I think was, pana cotta with cherries in jus and raki. The dessert was delightfully creamy and light. Both of these were on the house and we were delighted with the gesture. Despite being full, we had had our eye on the special, tortino al limoncello (€7,50). It was probably best we didn't get the option to order it as really we had had enough! Next time!!
The meal with a bottle of local water came to around €40. It should be noted that the restaurant does not have an electronic POS and only accepts cash. The food is not cheap and if you're having wine the bill could mount up, which you need the cash to cover! We were informed of this prior to ordering however.
Whilst the cost of food is not cheap, it isn't much more than we've paid in most restaurants we have eaten at in Crete, particularly in Chania centre. I would say it is worth every single penny and it is the only restaurant we've committed to returning to at least one more time before the end of the holiday. We had earmarked it for our 'last night meal' but unfortunately it is closed on a Monday. It is honestly some of the best food we have eaten ever, not just here in Crete.
Absolutely exquisite meal, in a lovely restaurant with superb friendly, knowledgeable and attentive staff.
Reviewer type: Foodies from Altrincham, Manchester, U.K. Early thirties.
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