When I was three, my parents took me to Rome. I stuffed my face full of Tortellini en Brodo three times a day and vowed to eat nothing else until I was well into my teens. I have been looking for traces of Italy in Amsterdam ever since – learning Italian food vocabulary at the wonderful Toscanini; gorging on fresh pasta at Spaghetteria; ordering panini at Uliveto or my favorite deli Casa di Maggio in Oud-West. And spending summer evenings in the company of a chilled Sudtiroler gem from my favorite wine importer Enoteca Sprezzatura. Amsterdam may not have an official Little Italy – though the Tuinstraat, with La Perla’s pizza, comes close – but Italophiles will never go hungry.
One of the best is Il Pecorino, just across the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord but easily reachable by ferry. Once a best kept secret, now really popular. Like that local Italian joint you only stumble upon in Venice’s back alleys, this restaurant is positioned snugly in an unassuming part of town. The owners have the best sunny terrace this side of the water and have been perfecting la vita bella for years, without any fuss.
Food takes center court here: every ingredient, from their soda bitters to their farina, is imported straight from the source – except for the organic cola, tea and lovely mozzarella, which, surprisingly, is made by an Italian dude from Twente. Il Pecorino’s calzones and burrata are to die for and cost exactly what honest food should. Call off the search.