I don’t mind a Friday night full of great food & wine, new faces and friends. Last Friday, I attended the soft launch for the new Colosseum Restaurant at Two Rivers Mall Nairobi which turned out be more of a girls night out. I met food & lifestyle bloggers doing amazing things and we had such a great time. It has been a while since I did one of these, and it is always a pleasure to see the fire that people have for their content. Probably this is what I needed after the hiatus.
I remember holding my ribs as we chatted with the ever convivial Jeanette Musembi and I met other creatives who I knew online but had ever met face to face.
Italy Meets Kenya
It’s a big deal when a swanky new Italian restaurant gets added to the Italian Restaurants portfolio in Nairobi because we do not have that many Italian Restaurants. This family owned restaurant was named after the biggest amphitheater in Rome and it is a great representation of the Italian culture to the Kenyan market. The Colosseum owners, Allesio Spalazzi & Carolyne KanzaWavinya, have another cafe-ish branch in Westlands, Nairobi but they brought out the big guns with this new branch. You can obviously see the difference in design, presentation and focal points. This new branch will focus more on fine dining and will have a cafeteria too.
The Space & Ambience
Obviously, I have to start with the bar which was spacious and well stocked. I am curious to see what is in their drinks menu but judging from the wine selection, I was impressed. I felt the Italian influence the minute I walked in the restaurant. There were pictures of the Colosseum on the white walls and there were different sculptures and decor items like a centurion mask in different parts of the restaurant to further bring out the theme. The restaurant has an open plan setting and every table was impeccably set for dinner. Next to the wall there was a comfortable leather bench and we all joined the tables to make a long table perfect for our dinner setting. The restaurant also has an outdoor sitting area overlooking the entrance of The Two Rivers Mall. Who wouldn’t love to have dinner while occasionally catching glimpses of the illuminated fountains outside? In the background, was mellow Italian music to set the tone and successfully work in synchrony with everything to bring a piece of Italy to Kenya.
The new restaurant will have two sections; a fine dining section and a cafeteria section. The restaurants aggregates different offerings from more than 20 regions in Italy. I realized that they focus on traditional Italian methods of making food. The ingredients are carefully sourced from Italy and the same meticulousness is given in the food preparation and presentation. One could tell especially with the Pinsa (Pinsa Romana) which was a delicious flatbread that was made in ancient Rome. The Italian restaurant prides itself as being the first to offer this delicacy in Kenya. I love discovering and learning through food and I listened as the chef narrated how he makes it and his influences. The first time he brought the dish on the table, I thought he said it was a pizza and I held this assumption up to the point he clarified that it was different. The crust was different and the primary ingredients were soy flour, rice flour and wheat flour (to replace Kamut which is an ancient grain from Egypt). The crust was delicious and one cannot simply pit this against pizza because they are different in preparation but if we were to do that, the pinsa wins, hands down. Let me know what you think when you try it. There were so many different delicious types of pinsa to illustrate this point. We also ate salami, feta, Pinna Cotta and Crème brûlée among other delicious foods.
I did not get to sample a lot of wine or even check out their wine menu in depth but I had a really crisp Fantinel 2014 Tenuta Sant’Elena Pinot Grigio. It is a delicate white with peach & tropical fruit flavour which is nice when enjoyed on it’s own. It has a fresh orange zest flavour and a great acidity.