Nicosia is not your usual European capital. You can’t call it beautiful, though it’s not exactly ugly. It’s not (yet?) a modern city, but it is neither ancient. A blend of cultures and styles, often mismatched, Nicosia is an urban contradiction.

However, Stasikratous and Makariou streets, arguably the modern heart of the city, stand out for being as European as possible. Swanky shops, designer cafés, pedestrian areas and, of course, restaurants.

Love it or hate it, Pralina Experience – but I’m just going to call her Pralina, as it is widely known – is an institution, albeit one that radically changed over the years.

The decor is impressive, elegant and sleek but a tad too grand for my taste. At a time where less is more, at least on the food scene, they should scale back on the grandeur.

I digress, on to the food.

Always accompanied by my dining companion, and this time by another trusted dining partner, we started with a simple green salad. Turns out, not too simple, as it came with sour apples, burnt peaches, graviera and quinoa crackers. Not usually a fan of salads, the elaborate concoction worked, especially the peaches.

For starters, we shared a tuna tataki served with fresh coriander and roe, and a sea bream ceviche with yuzu dressing. Both were impressive, complex, yet not over the top. I find yuzu too omnipresent in restaurants nowadays, but it’s a fad and it’ll pass.

Mention of honour for the warm bread served with the appetisers. Old fashioned? Well, yes, but I wonder who can smell bread and say “no, thank you”!

Mains followed, Chicken Orzotto and a Gambero Rosso sushi roll, with red prawn tartare and mango sauce.

The first one was as hearty as they come, not to be had in the summer, but the corn-fed chicken and the tangy manouri cheese did the trick. Turns out chicken with pasta works, despite what most Italians say.

As for the sushi, I would leave it for other places. Nothing wrong with it, but it felt too bland.

The standout dish of the night was the out-of-menu one, Porchetta au Jus and layered oven-baked potatoes.

The fatty, moist meat clashed wonderfully with the crispy crackling, and the potatoes rounded out the dish. Should be a permanent feature, in yours truly’s opinion.

No space whatsoever for desserts, although the pavlova and hazelnut millefeuille that made their way to another table were definitely inviting.

With several all-time classics, some novelties and one or two faux pas, Pralina surely remains an institution, but perhaps it would benefit from a few changes to the menu, where less opulence could be the key.

Mind you, you will need deep pockets – cheap it is not! – but the place is always worth a visit!


SPECIALTY Cyprus and international dishes

WHERE Stasikratous 31, Nicosia

WHEN Monday-Sunday 9 am-12 am

CONTACT 22 665588

HOW MUCH Starters €9-19, mains €16-40, desserts €7-10