Miss K visits the Italian chain's latest branch, aboard a converted barge opposite the castle
Rewind back a week or so and I was excited.
Not only was our much-missed friend and colleague returning to Prague for a visit after a long year away but, to mark the occasion, we would as a team be visiting the recently opened Grosseto Marina, a refurbished barge docked by Mánesův most -- my own recommendation made on the basis that my prodigal friend could combine castle and cuisine from one handily placed location.
It was admittedly a bit of a shame that we were visiting on a rainy November evening as opposed to sitting out on deck on a balmy summer's afternoon, but I also liked the stylish interior here as well (photos obviously nabbed from the restaurant website).
The place was absolutely packed out on a Friday evening, and I'm told reservations are necessary here every night of the week -- understandable really considering the (for Old Town, at any rate) reasonable prices and amazing views out over Prague Castle. Being a table of 11 ourselves, we'd of course booked well in advance.
After ordering an initial round of drinks (Staropramen at 49 CZK for the boys, mini-carafes of Chardonnay at 70 CZK for the girls), we turned our attention to the Grosseto menu. This was pretty much the exact same pasta/pizza-based menu as at Grosseto's other various locations around the city, but with dishes and drinks all approximately 20-30 CZK more expensive than at the other branches.
While we were still choosing, a couple of baskets of fluffy, crusty white bread were brought out to the table, along with pots of garlic butter, balsamic and olive oil.
A few of our party decided to order starters, with Mr. H going for the veal bouillon with noodles and vegetables (65 CZK); myself, Miss U and Mr. S opting for the small mixed salad (80 CZK); and -- last but not least -- Mr. Honored Guest choosing one of the specials, in the pumpkin soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and parmesan croutons (65 CZK).
All of these were deemed very nice, with the pumpkin soup in particular standing out for its creamy smoothness and rich, buttery taste.
For the mains, Mr. H scored the highlight of the evening by ordering the veal shank stewed with tomatoes and mushrooms served with corn polenta from the daily specials.
This was a generous portion of melt-in-your-mouth meat, which fell easily and effortlessly away from the bone (concealed underneath). Mr. H referred to the dish as "beautiful" and -- at just 270 CZK -- felt it extremely good value for this area of Prague.
Miss R also went for one of Grosseto's meat dishes, in the pork steak with olives, capers and garlic roasted potatoes (279 CZK).
This was another success, with Miss R commenting favorably on the tenderness of the pork, flavorsome olive sauce and crispy potatoes.
As for the group's pasta contingent, Mrs. Honored Guest went for the penne with sundried tomatoes, rucola, fresh basil and parmesan (155 CZK), Mr. Honored Guest for the parpadelle with cream sauce, mushrooms and parmesan (175 CZK), Mr. S for the giant ravioli with fresh spinach and cheese sauce (189 CZK), and myself -- after much deliberation -- for a good old spaghetti carbonara (155 CZK).
Comments here were that the penne was very strongly flavored and rich, the parpadelle very nice, and the three pieces of ravioli lovely in themselves, but that Mr. S would need a McDonald's afterwards to make up for the comparatively small portion size here. As for my carbonara, this was just OK -- the spaghetti was a bit underdone for my taste with not a lot of sauce, but at the same time was deceptively filling. On balance I should have gone for the penne as well.
On the pizza front, Mr. C went for the pepperoni (165 CZK), Mr. B for the tuna and onion (155 CZK) and Mr. P for the generously topped prosciutto crudo, rucola and parmesan cheese (199 CZK).
General verdict from the boys on the pizzas here was that they were pretty nice, but nothing special for the price, while Mr. C wished for more spice from his pepperoni. Still, I definitely marked the tempting prosciutto and rucola variety down to share with Mr. K at some point in the future though.
By this point of the evening, most of us were pretty well stuffed, with only (an understandably still hungry after his meager ravioli) Mr. S ordering a dessert, in the tiramisu (85 CZK).
I had a taste here and thought it was nice enough, but could have used a bit more booze. (Story of my life here, really...!)
A couple of coffees rounded off what was, all-round, deemed a very nice meal -- a relief on my part given that I was the one who'd suggested it in the first place...
In short, it seems to me that Grosseto Marina is onto an absolute winner here, with nice food at reasonable prices, great atmosphere both above deck and below, and -- needless to say -- the frankly unbeatable views.
If Grosseto can keep up the quality and not let its well-deserved popularity go to its head, then -- to sum it all up here -- it looks like smooth sailing all the way for the Marina and all those of us aboard...
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