In search of the most-fulfilling culinary rushes can often leave me forgetting the simple edible pleasures of the task, but some will stay with me forever. Like a voluptuous Cannolo Siciliano with Ricotta or great pasta swirled in a delicious crab sauce, served in a deceptively low-key manner – experiences that I’ve been thinking about since I left Colosseum Coffee Bar.
Locating the entrance to Colosseum isn’t that easy, unless you’ve been to the stunning West End Towers along Waiyaki Way in Nairobi, Kenya; but the trip is worth it for the food that’s always a winner. Only five months old and the brainchild of Alessio Spalazzi and his wife Carolyne Kanza Wavinya, Colosseum is a coffee bar and restaurant hybrid. You enter via a café-like setup, though obviously slicker, more chic and sophisticated with its clean lines and black and white décor. The room then spreads out dramatically, opening up to large floor-to-ceiling windows, as grand as the Colosseo, looking out onto a leafy green residential street. To the left are glass cases filled with decadent treats and temptation: doughnuts, tarts, and pastries.
Colosseum offers more than 30 pizza choices from KSh 650 and 6 focaccia varieties. A great selection of Antipasti, mixed salami and cured deli meats from Italy, will set you back KSh 800. There was the Colosseum Salad (KSh 1,200) of iceberg lettuce, browned turkey, parmesan, corn, mozzarella, olive oil and some basil dressing on the side. Taking into consideration that iceberg lettuce makes up for its shortcomings in flavour with its high water content; the salad disappointed and fell short of its price tag. The Vodka Lemon Prawns (KSh 1,800), plated with mash potatotes and sautéed seasonal vegetables were delicious, but its price felt a bit too steep for the modest portion. My personal favourite, Bucatini in Crab Sauce (KSh 1,300), a traditional pasta – liken to spaghetti but with a hole running through the center – popular in Rome, cooked al dente and swirled in a tomato-based sauce with copious amounts of crab meat – was delicate in flavour and luscious in texture. Delicious.
For desserts, the fist-sized Cannolo Siciliano with Ricotta (KSh 600), a staple in Sicilian cuisine, had its deep-fried pastry shell bursting with a sweet and creamy ricotta cheese filling – a delectable meal in itself. There was also the Marmalade Tart (KSh 400) and Ciambellone (KSh 400); both perfect accompaniments for a coffee break and equally satisfying.
Colosseum’s finger-licking desserts and savoury dishes is food that will hug you and put a woolly scarf around your neck on a chilly Nairobi day. Keep in mind Colosseum is not exactly a 100-seater eatery, but instead it’s more of a café that aspires to serve some restaurant favourites. If you’re looking for a lengthy menu or a fine dining setup, this isn’t it.
Service was phenomenal. Our waiter Allan was quick to clear plates and proactively anticipated what our table needed without intruding. His calm and confident demeanor made our experience a pleasure.
Colosseum oozes confidence. The confidence to name themselves after the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire – an icon of architecture and engineering. The confidence to execute a monotone décor without apologizing for its cool and collective approach. The confidence to serve sinful doughnuts and Cannoli when everyone else is doing low-fat and calorie counting carrot cakes. And, of course, the confidence to win over new foodies, such as yourself.
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