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Berlin Dispatch: Pasta without Hot Sauce

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it’s a good sign when the condiment section at a pasta restaurant brandishes a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce (not to mention mayonnaise and ketchup).

Sriracha was the first thing I noticed when I walked into Piccola Romantica on Oranienstrasse, the (Turkish-)Italian restaurant around the corner from where Ibrahim the cabbie lives in Kreuzberg.

By the time Ibrahim dropped me off there yesterday, I learned that he’d worked in construction before he started driving a taxi four years ago – and that after 28 years in “the big village” that is Berlin, he considers it home.

When he’s not eating Turkish pizza at Konyali (good man!) or doener kebab at Grill und Schlimmerbuffet on Rosenthaler Platz, the cabbie likes to pick up a plate of pasta from Piccola.

From 11am-5pm, all except five of the eighty-five kinds of pizza and pasta at Piccola cost 3.50 Euros. Sounds like a good deal, right?

I looked away from the Sriracha while I waited for my cannelloni to bake. I noticed the other customers: a thirty-something couple in spandex, a guy who was agonizing over a book between bites of pizza and wore the agonized expression of a procrastinating writer, and a pair of men with salt and pepper beards who wanted to make absolutely certain their pasta only cost 3.50. The phone rang with delivery orders. Justin Timberlake sang to us all.

My cannelloni – stuffed with beef (this is Turkish-Italian, remember?) and spinach and covered with tomato-cream sauce – was scorched on top. But beneath the burned mozzarella, the pasta was actually pretty good. The spinach was still fresh enough to be bright green, the beef had been seasoned with care, and the tomato-cream sauce was light and almost over-salted. The pasta itself was a little thicker than I like cannelloni to be, but it still had some al dente body to it.

I finished the whole plate, even though I wasn’t starving. Maybe I wouldn’t have been as pleasantly surprised if it had cost 10 Euros. And I maybe should have tried it with Sriracha.

Piccola RomanticaMap it
Oranienstrasse 33 – 10999
Berlin – Kreuzberg
Open: Sun-Thurs, 11am-2am; Fri-Sat, 11am-3am
Cash only
Recommended: Cannelloni with spinach, beef and tomato-cream sauce (3.50 Euros between 11am-5pm, 3.60 after hours)

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  1. I am taking a tour of the Hudson River this Saturday and I plan on dropping by the Union Square Market for in season tomatoes….can’t wait to make sauce out of them. Yum! And that cannelloni looks good too.

  2. Dan just had lunch there the other day! A big piece of fish with a pepper cream sauce and potatoes for 3.90. He was quite impressed given the price. Romantica also has a tiramisu and espresso special for something like 2.60, but you need at least two people to finish the massive piece. Will have to give it a try for lunch one of these days.

  3. C’mon, the cock sauce is always a welcome addition. :)

    Just stumbled onto you site & adore the recommendations and thoughts. Can’t wait to follow your adventure to Turkey.