I was people watching over a patiently steeped ice tea at Café Mocha when I hit the foodie-adventurer’s jackpot – being tipped about beloved local dining spots. Owner Bijal Dodhia made small talk and wondered where else I would be eating in Mombasa, a historical port-city in Kenya, and generously gave some recommendations, including Eataly. Apparently this hip Italian eatery is quite the hot spot during the evening for locals. And if local buzz is to be believed, this one will put the city firmly on the Kenyan culinary map.
Happily, Eataly is not another obvious ocean-themed restaurant along the Kenyan coast that usually resembles more like one from Gilligan’s Island. Fusing the known Italian tradition of eating and the country Italy together, the name “Eataly” is a clever play on words; or perhaps borrowed from its famous high-end Italian food market and restaurant namesake in New York City.
Eataly Restaurant is located in Links Plaza on Links Road in Mombasa, Kenya. The average meal costs Kshs 2,000. For menu and reservations – make sure you check out here. Special thanks to Eat Out Coast.
The style is chic and airy, by the way of nautical. We have enough blue accents to remind you that yes, you are in fact dining not far from the Indian Ocean. Situated on Links Road in Mombasa, Kenya, Eataly easily stands out from the rest of the restaurants and bars in area with its modern curb appeal. The large patio is perfect for al fresco dining during the day and even more so as an occasional dance floor during evening events when the booze is flowing. Minimalistic dining tables and white moulded modern plastic chairs keep the space visually clean. It’s all very lush.
The menu is short but lovingly curated. The Seafood Salad on the specials’ menu was a glorious thing that I wanted to eat again, and again…and again. A heap of fresh delicacies from the ocean – shrimp, octopus and calamari – all tenderly cooked, tossed simply with coriander, lime juice and good enough olive oil that should probably be used for only finishing; the salad was the perfect beginning to a great meal baked in sticky coastal humidity. The Carpaccio di vitellone (KSh 750), thin slices of beef drizzled with olive oil, served with artichoke hearts, on a bed of rucola, and topped with parmesan shavings was a light and flavourful combination – by God it was good. With twenty-two choices to choose from, you could technically sample a different pizza every day for the next three weeks. The toppings are luscious and the mozzarella just brown on the top with fresh gooey-ness underneath, and the tomatoes have a bright and clean flavour that always shine through. Then there was simple penne pasta with a classic Italian tomato sauce tossed with fresh basil and olives – Penne alle Olive e Pomodoro. Against the blue top of the table, the freshness of the plate literally jumped up towards me with the vivid and vibrant colours of the ingredients. Billowing lush leaves of basil and sauce that was so chunky and red it exuded passion, desire and whetted the palate.
When it comes to service, coastal eateries seem to always be a notch slower than what you may be use to in a busy capital city such as Nairobi. Perhaps it’s the humidity, but whatever the reason may be, the imminent slower pace of life on the coast definitely will reflect in service as well. So, don’t be so easily irritable. Surprisingly, I found Eataly’s service to be quite attentive and efficient – a definite bonus.
Ground-breaking? We’re not quite there yet. But who really needs to change the game when simple and fresh ingredients seem to always win over hearts all over the world? Next time you’re in Mombasa, head to Eataly to be won over.