When I was asked where I wanted to go for on one particular date night, I chose Il Soriso almost immediately because I had been wanting Italian. Il Soriso is, for many of you, a charming blast from the past. But guess what? I had never been before now. I don’t know how it happened. Call it laziness, call it slopiness, call it plain inexcusable if you will; but alas, that is the truth and I feel freeer for sharing it.
Where: 27 Oju Ologbun Close, Victoria Island, Lagos
Good for: When you fancy a hearty Italian meal, meals for groups, loud family dinners.
Price Range: We spent roughly N30,000 on this meal for two, but it could be more or less, depending on what you order. To give you an idea, the bottle of wine waas N8,000 which is reasonable and the starter was N3,000.
The food: There are two types of Italian restaurant. The kind where robust, homely, traditional fare is served up in generous portions, and the word ‘feast’ hangs in the air like a silent dare. And then there is the kind where the stark white plate is used very much the same way that stark white space is used in art or advertising; as a powerful design element to help the audience focus on the delicate elements of the matter at hand. Naturally, both approaches have their rightful place, but if you are wondering which category Il Soriso, Lagos falls into, it is definitely the former. This is very much the rustic kind of Italian fare.
To start, we shared the Involtini de salmone, which was smoked salmon rolls stuffed with creamy mushrooms and fresh herbs. The salmon was fresh, and not overhandled, which was nice. I sometimes worry about smoked salmon because I’ve been places where you take a bite and you can taste what it must be like to lick the chef’s palm (yuck). For mains, we had the Tagliatelli with garlic and olive oil and chilli prawns. This was probably my favourite part of the meal. The pasta was homemade, cooked al dente, so a bit firm, but still with enough give to play well with the sauce. The chilli had really good presence and a nice amount of heat. I shouldn’t really have finished this because I was so full, but I pressed on til the end. The lasagne was good too, soft, and flavourful and balanced with a generous amount of meat in it. On the side, we had broccoli with four cheeses. This was a bit rich for me because as you know, I like my veggies as natural as if they just came from the ground. But if you don’t like veggies and want to mask their taste with cheese, then this is the dish for you!
To wash it all down, we shared a bottle of Chianti. I have not had Chianti in years and years. The wine was alright, and it certainly did it’s job. By the time we got to dessert, I was at the point where I was debating whether it was morally right or not to eat another course knowing full well I would burst at the seams if I did. But I ended up having dessert anyway because I rationalised that if I didn’t, then my review would be incomplete, and I have a duty to my readers…:p We shared the tiramisu because even he was stuffed from the lasagne. I remember there being absolute silence while we ate it. It was incredibly moist, but not soggy, subtley boozy, creamy, and spongey. Everything you want from a good tiramisu. It is probably the best I’ve had in Lagos, although the one from Pizzeria is also a strong contender. Maybe I’ll do a taste test one day…
The Ambience: I liked the rustic, charming vibe, complete with the aged wooden furniture and red and white chequered table cloths and cheerful Italian music.
The service: Welcoming but a bit random, and a tad slow. I think they have far too many items on their menu, and this makes it difficult for the staff to keep track of which dishes they have and what’s in each one. This then means that when you ask questions, the waiter has to keep running back to the kitchen and it is slightly disruptive. If they can fix that, it will go a long way.
The Verdict: The main source of joy for me was that nothing here tasted like stew. I know you’ve all been in that awkward situation in this Lagos, where you order something in an Italian restaurant that is supposed to be a tomato/pomodoro sauce, and instead you get something that tastes like it would go better with ewedu and amala and fried meat than pasta and pesto, so I definitely enjoyed the authenticity. Be prepared to have garlic breath for a few hours after this meal. Fact. But is it worth it? Absolutely. I am looking forward to going back and trying other dishes on the menu.