With the onset of Masala mornings, “Masterchef” re-runs and an altogether deluge of cooking shows, food awareness has grown drastically in Pakistan over the past few years; it’s been challenging for restaurateurs to find that special ingredient that draws foodies to their kitchens.
Luna Caprese, an authentic Italian restaurant nestled in a residential area in Islamabad, has found its forte: weekend brunch. Previously famous for its pastas, steak and firewood pizza, the almost two decade-old eatery has introduced eggs and pancakes to its weekend menu in addition to its regular offerings.
The eggs, which are ordered ala carte, accompanied with a traditional Italian croquette, red-beans and wheat-or-white bread, are a far-cry from the glory of American diners in terms of fluff. However, the farm-fresh eggs and organic ingredients leave ones taste buds satiated at the least.
Eggs can be ordered from the menu or at a live station, allowing the customer to pick the meats (hunter beef, smoked chicken or turkey) and veggies (anchovies, spinach, sautéed mushrooms and sundried tomatoes) of their choice. The real beauty of the omelette, is the mozzarella cheese which is mild and melting, affirming manager Shehryar Khan’s claims of top-quality. The price range is between Rs250 to 350 and the portions are generous, with the option of additional sides at a small cost.
Khan, who whipped up the omelette creations — including the scintillating smoked chicken omelette with cheese, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes in his own personal kitchen — believes that regardless of the décor and ambience of a place, “at the end of the day, people just want good food.”
Soups, salads, paninis, pastas and pizzas are also on the menu but with fewer options than in the restaurant’s overambitious regular menu. The pizzas, baked in firewood in a clay oven with no oil and with the option of whole-wheat dough available, tend to be a healthier binge — and a pretty appetising one at that.
The restaurant, originally founded by Khan’s aunt, Nargis Oberoy in 1995, was once popular among Islamabad’s foreign circles. After it was bombed by extremist elements in 1998, the owner struggled to bring clientele back. All-day-breakfast has found its place at restaurants around town but brunch remains a niche, which Khan has explored in order to revamp the restaurant and diversify clientele.
Luna Caprese is located in a two-story house across the Super Market and offers an open sky to its dining customers in a generous lawn that extends out of the indoor seating.
The menu includes old as well as new dishes. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
“The outdoor brunch experience is still missing in Islamabad to an extent,” shares Khan. “Our seating allows customers to feel as if they are in their own homes,” he adds, explaining that families are drawn to places where children can run around.
Décor is minimal and garden furniture is wrapped around a modest fountain in the centre of the lawn, in a sense, encouraging what is most meaningful: good food and good conversation. On a Sunday afternoon, tables are full and the sound of jazz drifts in and out with the light winter breeze as eggs are frantically whipped and bittersweet coffee roasts in a pot.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2012.