Located at: 62 Leyn Baan Street, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 05 Aug, 2019
This wine-and-dine Italian restaurant located inside the Fort conveniently popped up in the newspapers the day before we were to visit Galle. It also had rave reviews, which was encouraging. Hence, we decided to stop by for lunch. The interior was rather tastefully done, giving off calm vibes with the predominantly white-washed wood look and minimal ornaments. The tableware was equally beautiful and added to the splendour. However, when we asked if they have air-conditioned seating, we were told that the a/c area is upstairs, but is not open at the moment as there are fewer customers these days. While I can understand the economics of this from the management’s point of view, in hindsight, it occurred to me that this was not a fair deal for those of us visiting during the off-peak season when the sun still shone down just as mercilessly. After all, we do still pay the same price for what we order and as service charges – albeit experiencing less favourable facilities. Food for thought, perhaps?
Moving on to the food and beverage. We were looking forward to a hearty Italian meal. By hearty I mean yummy, authentic Italian food. We all ordered Fresh Juices (LKR 650 each) to begin with. They were quite pulpy with no added sugar – how I prefer it. I was particularly drawn to the glass straws that are an eco-friendly option you don’t see at most places (most places have switched to paper straws). They looked pretty cool too. While commending them for their plastic-free work ethic, there were a couple of thoughts that popped into my mind when I saw the glass straws – what might be the lifespan of one of these in a commercial kitchen? And, more importantly, what does it take to clean them effectively to be hygienic enough for re-use? I guess they have their sterilisation methods in place. Still, more food for thought.
The bread basket looked great. Unfortunately, the bread sticks seem to have been left in the oven a tad bit overtime, making them hard to bite and noisy to chew. The rest of the breads were okay, albeit slightly doughy. Perhaps a bit of warming might have helped to overlook that to some extent.
One of the three varieties of mains that we ordered xwas the Lasagna emiliana – homemade fresh lasagne with beef ragout, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and béchamel (LKR 2,900). This tasted quite good. The sauce in which the beef had been prepared was well seasoned and the taste of the rich parmesan came through in a rich but subtle tone. The pasta wasn’t too thick and, overall, the elements that made up the dish complemented one another well.
The second dish was their Tortelli neri ai gamberi e zucchini – squid ink homemade tortelli stuffed with prawn and zucchini, served with seafood bisque (LKR 2,850). This was a visual tease, and tasted best when the tortelli were split into two and doused in the seafood bisque. Not a great deal of flavour, but an interesting experience on the palate.
Finally, there was the Spaghetti di Gragnano con vongole e bottarga – bronze-died thick spaghetti with clams and bottarga and flavoured bread crumbs (LKR 2,750). There is only one word that I could use to describe this dish – bland. It was like the anti-climax of all the reviews I had read about AQUA Forte, for I could not taste any of the flavours that the dish sounded like it should have. It looked herby and seasoned, but this wasn’t reflected in its taste for some reason. The spaghetti, the clams, the tiny bread crumbs – nothing was doing anything on my palate. I helped myself to a rather generous round of seasoning with salt, but could still barely feel much. In all honesty, not only did this dissatisfy my local palate, but I am pretty sure this would disappoint even a seasoned Italian palate. Italian cuisine – fast food and fine dining – are not alien to me, having tried and tasted several sweet and savoury dishes both in and outside of Italy. This was a far cry from what I expected and definitely was a huge disappointment in terms of value for money.
Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to capture a properly focused image of this dish. Hence, I have attached here an image of a plate of Spaghetti di Gragnano con vongole e bottarga obtained online (for which I hold no copyrights) as it is quite similar to the actual dish I was served – just for the reader to get an idea.
Overall, I was far from impressed following my experience at AQUA Forte.
Yummy Rating: 2.5 / 5.0