As an Italian journalist covering food, wine, travel, and culture – and a part-time Praguer – Giambattista Marchetto brings a unique perspective to the topic of Italian cuisine in the Czech capital.
Hailing from a small town outside of Venice, Marchetto moved to Prague six years ago but has been visiting off and on for 15 years. Though Prague has seen an influx of Italian mercati and trattorie during that time when asked for his favorite Italian dish Marchetto remains a purist.
“Considering my homeland is the Venetian area, it’s not easy to find a place where they really serve fish in the same style I can enjoy around Venice. So it may be trite, but my favorite Italian dish served in Prague is still pizza.”
Due to the fact that he often finds himself sampling Italy’s finest regional cuisine for publications like Food24, Viaggi24, and Pambianco Wine&Food, it’s a taste of the Czech Republic – or some home-cooking – Marchetto longs for when he’s in Prague, as opposed to a restaurant meal.
“Considering that my job takes me quite frequently to Italy for food and wine tastings, I tend to prefer Czech food with my beloved Pilsner or dining at home when in Prague.”
Those meals typically include a mix of ingredients Marchetto imports from trips to Italy – sundried tomatoes, capers, olives, cheese, sometimes even green salad and lemons – with local Czech ones: celery, carrots, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, and zucchini sourced from the farmer’s markets in Karlin or Naplavka.
When shopping for the flavors of home he says it’s not impossible to get good fish in Prague though fresh vegetables and quality fruit can be particularly hard to find.
“In a grocery store or in a normal market it’s hard to find good salad or tomatoes, and you either have to go to some specialty store (with special prices, compared Italy) or find a friendly private supplier.” He frequents the Italian deli Wine Food market, M&S, and Naše Maso butcher shop.
These are the Italian tables that Marchetto returns to in and around Prague:
Ichnusa Botega Bistro
I enjoy the atmosphere and the food at Ichnusa Botega Bistro, a tiny Sardinian restaurant in the city center where the owner Antonello Pranteddu takes care of every single guest with the traditional warm approach of the Italian “oste” – I like to go there for dinner (fish and meat-based dishes by chef Omar are amazing) or even for a quick aperitivo with Sardinian wines.” www.ichnusa.restaurant
Da Antonio in Dittrichova
I appreciate the good Neapolitan-style pizza at Da Antonio in Dittrichova, where the crew is nice and also the espresso is really good! www.facebook.com/Da-Antonio-Dittrichova
If I feel like good Italian-style food and I’m not bothered by a bit of a touristic crowd, a very nice hidden spot in Kampa is the small Piknik Restaurant – the fish is really fresh and the pasta-based dishes are super-tasty. www.piknikpark.cz
Cash & Carry Cortelazzi
I sometimes go for lunch at the in-store restaurant of Cortelazzi Cash & Carry Chraštany, where my friend Alan in the kitchen can give a Venetian touch to the Italian-style cuisine. www.cortelazzi.cz
For a meeting, a perfect spot is the Red Cafè Prague in Stodulky: the Czech chefs can really prepare good stuff with an Italian touch (lasagne, pasta, and sometimes risotto are much appreciated). www.redcafeprague.cz
Bistro Proti Proudu
Because I’m based in Karlin, I can enjoy a very nice Italian touch and a taste of home at the Proti Proudu café and at the Avocado Gang bistro, where the executive chef Ivo makes use of his past experience in Italy. www.bistroprotiproudu.cz
Wine and Dine wine club
Even if Czech sommeliers are frequently more inclined towards French wines, the Italian wines scene is getting more and more interesting these days. I find good Sardinian wines at Ichnusa Botega Bistro and good Italian wines through this online “wine club” which also organizes the occasional cooking class and supper club. www.wineanddine.cz.
To discover more authentic cuisine in the Czech capital, visit our Food and Drink directory.