Cheese, Pesto, and Fiber
Pizza Spinaci (NT$450)
Fatty's Italian Restaurant
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
1, Lane 50 JingCheng Rd, Xitun Dist.
Hours: 11:30 am-10 pm
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.
It's a normal mid-week lunchtime, and 90-seat Fatty's Italian Restaurant is packed. Chefs and wait staff rush about as owner Hendrik Frijling says hello and goodbye to patrons, greeting many by name.
When a restaurant not only survives, but thrives, after a dozen years, one has to ask what the secret is. However, for Hendrik the answer is surprisingly simple─an unchanged commitment to offering diners good basic sauces paired with eight handmade pasta choices, and serving this with salad, bread and butter.
"Our biggest advantage is our consistency; people know exactly what they will get. We're very strict on the cooking...and we always have space," says the owner, who uses Fatty's neighboring sister restaurant Smooth as an overflow area. "We don't look at others, but just focus on us and what we're doing."
This doesn't mean that the menu never changes at Fatty's. On the contrary, Hendrik and his wife Jenny stress that there are new additions every six months. One brand-new example is Pizza Spinaci, a flavorful but lighter 12-inch creation with fried bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms topped liberally with spinach. Two other popular recent additions to 20 offered pizzas (NT$360-440) are Pizza Chilli con Carne and Pizza Norge, topped with Norwegian smoked salmon.
As noted above, eight pastas, from fusilli to fettuccine, are joined with eight basic sauces and top-quality ingredients in all sorts of tasty combos. All-time favorites are Seafood in Cream (or Tomato) Sauce, and the famed curry-flavored Thai-Style sauce (served with seafood) that has inspired imitations across the city. Among fresh toppings this season are a Porcini Mushroom with fresh spinach and truffle oil (NT$390), and Chicken Lemon with spicy lemon cream sauce.
Other newer dishes include Pumpkin Risotto (NT$360 with chicken or sausage), just-added Mixed Seafood Salad (NT$280), served with a sweet fig and red-wine sauce nicely matching the pan-fried seafood, and Seafood Combo (NT$390), an English fish-and-chips-like starter served with tartar and honey mustard sauces.
Jenny also notes that diners now enjoy more variety in the complimentary, fresh-made breads they are served, a good reminder of the basics that have carried Fatty's for 12 years.
Left: Spaghetti with porcini mushrooms, fresh spinach and truffle oil (NT$390)
Right: Mixed Seafood Salad (NT$280)