Ballaro, Take a Bow!
Voula’s newest Italian arrival offers sophisticated street dining with surprisingly friendly prices, discovers Amanda Dardanis.
Time was when one’s culinary ambitions in Voula square rarely exceeded a lazy Sunday lunch with family and friends at a modest taverna. Or a mid-week break from the kitchen at one of the southern suburb’s perfectly capable souvlaki joints.
But now, this cosmopolitan seaside hamlet is increasingly being seen as a Saturday night destination – and a viable alternative to neighbouring Glyfada. It’s all thanks to an influx of new internationally-tilted wine bars and eateries that are dishing up quality, atmosphere and value for money.
Newcomer Ballaro is a prime example. Opened early this summer, with the rustic cuisine of a Palermo street market as its muse, Ballaro Deli & Restaurant has introduced a stylish new note to the magnetic Posidonos pocket of Voula Village. (There are Ballaro branches also in Thessaloniki and Mykonos).
After getting rave reviews from a number of fellow Voula natives, we gave the restaurant a spin ourselves last Saturday night.
Annexed off in a charming sunken enclave behind pretty planter boxes, (opposite the hugely popular Vergera wine bar), dining on the pavement at Ballaro feels like more of an intimate “date night” experience than eating out over in the main square across the road, where most of Voula’s restaurants are situated. Its elegant seating mish mash of white wrought iron and blonde wood, and the well-dressed tables enhance the mood of exclusivity.
It’s not a huge menu. (The other great new Italian arrival in the main square, Il Vero, has a more extensive one, I’m told).
But it’s a sophisticated one and what they do, they do extremely well. The range is pasta-centric (don’t go if you’re craving pizza) and focuses on well-executed and presented regional Sicilian dishes – alongside instagram-fodder charcuterie boards showcasing the Italian deli range available inside.
We ordered 2 starters for the table: the vitello tonnato (veal with tuna and caper sauce) and a caprese salad – both terrific and a portent of good things to come.
The most popular main choices at our table of 8 were the vongole with cuttlefish ink linguine (delicious but a tad under-seasoned); the porcini risotto (marvellous – perfect texture & seasoning); and a stand-out tortellini al ragu loaded with tender shredded beef in lieu of mince that felt more like a fragrant light stew than a stodgy pasta dish. (It was superb value also at €9 – in fact most of the pasta plates come in at under €10). Meanwhile, my vegetarian friend reported that Ballaro’s white truffle pasta was the best she’s ever eaten.
Service throughout the evening was attentive and conscientious – even at its busiest peak when all the tables were full. (Definitely book ahead on the weekend.) A well-priced and curated selection of Italian wines notched our satisfaction-level up even higher (we went for a wonderful Valpolicella Classico for €19 a bottle ). Sadly, we’ll have to get back to you about the desserts (time defeated us on the night).
In just a short few months, Ballaro has successfully cultivated a delightful, buzzy and convivial vibe – and currently offers one of the best quality for value, elegant dining options on the southside.
Ballaro, you are a very welcome addition to our Voula Village.
Ballaro Deli Italian Restaurant, Posidonos 12, Voula, tel: +30 210.899.4464. Find them on Facebook
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