Food loving Pakistanis are ready to hit a café or restaurant at any time of the day – not only when they’re hungry, but sometimes just to spend some time with friends and family or simply because they’re bored. This trend was once again witnessed on Friday evening when a new Italian restaurant made its way to the capital’s food scene.
Located in the heart of Islamabad’s F/7 area, the expansive Tuscany Courtyard had the main road blocked as Islooites rushed to get inside.
A blue-tiled fountain greets you at the entrance that has a courtyard feel to it. The restaurant, which has been designed by Ali Umer Alvi, has two spacious floors. There is also seating outside for those who want to take in the view and weather. Inside, the restaurant has walls painted in subtle tones of beige and terracotta with big wide-paned windows that make one feel like they are sitting in an Italian villa. On one side of the courtyard, there is a large rustic fireplace, which the owners said would be operational during winter.
Owners Sikander Bakhtiar, Aamir Rashid and Khurram Khan decided to open this restaurant after their trip to Tuscany, a small village in Italy. Inspired by freshly baked, thin crust pizza and other Italian delicacies, the trio decided to open a place which would serve authentic Italian food instead of the regular desi/continental food most restaurants in Pakistan serve. “We have completely original Italian recipes, with a wide variety ranging from two tomato bruschettas to thin crust, specialty pizzas. We also have a proper Italian bakery on the premises,” said Khan.
“The best thing is that in Islamabad you can make use of the view and weather, which creates the best ambience for a restaurant.”
Waiters grumbled while they hustled to and fro from table to table trying to serve everyone at the overcrowded restaurant. Serving platters of hors d’oeuvres and appetisers to anxious guests is always a better option at any restaurant opening but Tuscany Courtyard’s owners chose to skip that trend.
Guests became frustrated, as one person said: “I think they should have an invite-only launch as it’s a little too crowded, I can barely breathe in this heat,” he said, adding that the air conditioning inside is “really good, considering its so crowded.”
The saving grace was the food. Waiters served thin crust pizza with pepperoni, grilled chicken and mushrooms and paninis to the guests. Everyone raved about the pizza and battered shrimps and left the restaurant with their taste buds satiated. One guest exclaimed: “The pizza crust is thin and crispy – baked to perfection! Finally, some authentic Italian pizza.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2012.