Oh, I do like the good things in life, in fact I need it. We can be austere with our purses and our waistlines as much as modern times dictate our diet but every once in a while, you still have to live well. To me, eating Ravioli is living well. Indulgent stuffed pasta, delicately poached to al dente in simmering water and then smothered with sauce, this is pure comfort for me, with a significant dash of panache.
We can wax lyrical about eating fresh ravioli in Italy and all the many types of stuffed pasta that turn my head but in Sri Lanka, choices are slim. There’s no one here trying the ambitious Egg Yolk Raviolo I have seen repeat itself on Masterchef and have actually tried to make at home (and somewhat succeeded). There are many Italian restaurants in Colombo now and its suburbs have even more, one can be fooled into thinking one Ravioli is no better than the other. I want to take a moment to give an honourable mention to London Grill, who have kept a subtle gem of Crab Ravioli in burnt butter on their menu for years and not known that there wafer-thin pasta is likely the most delicate in town. (They are not included simply because of the inclusion of their sister restaurant Echo in my rankings).
At the end of the day it comes down to taste and ultimately, my palate has its preferences, although I try to be fair. There are a great many raviolis to choose from but I bring you the best, according to me. I am The Gourmand and this is food advice LT don’t pay me for.
Here are my Top 4 Ravioli dishes in Sri Lanka.
1) Feta & Black Olive Ravioli with Pesto Crème & Sun-dried Tomato Concasse – The Gallery Café
I wish it weren’t so but this complex Ravioli opera remains top of the town, by a country mile. The reason is not just the ravioli but the depths and layers of flavour in the accompanying sauce and the ingenious flavour profiles clashing and complimenting each other.
The filling is substantial, not salty yet rich in flavour, there is no missing the olive or the feta. The pesto crème is so subtle yet the sharpness of the sundried tomato pairs perfectly with the creamy pesto and uplifts the entire dish. There is so much complexity here in terms of flavour, in an otherwise simple dish.
2) Beef & Ricotta Ravioli – Dolce Italia
This little Italian restaurant has a very big heart and it continues its beat throughout their food. This Ravioli is as unpretentious as it is rustic but in its simplicity is its greatness, I do believe I could just as easily be eating this in any café in Italy. This is real Ravioli, as the Italians eat it.
LT were given a range of Ravioli to sample, even though I had specifically demanded the Spinach & Ricotta. To my surprise, I was informed of the greatness of the Beef Ravioli and when I tried it, I just loved it. The minced beef filling is laced with Ricotta and it was served to me in a creamy tomato sauce. Yes, I like spice and salt as much as the average Sri Lankan, but this hit home. Magnifico.
Italy should be proud of these lovely Italians, because Italian food is all about heart.
3) Mushroom Ravioli with 4-Cheese Sauce – Echo
Echo’s Italian chef has been around for at least a couple of years now but people don’t appear to have noticed the upgrade. The Mushroom Ravioli says it all. The filling is just luscious, so earthy and deep, as mushroom stuffing must be.
The crème is rich, almost too rich for me, this is a guilty pleasure I will enjoy rarely. The walnuts on top elevate this dish, as does the light scent of truffle oil. This is a wicked orgy for my senses, one I relished in all its cheesy creamy glory.
4) Mushroom Ravioli with Ricotta and Truffle Oil – Il Ponte
I’m not pleased with featuring two such similar dishes from these two big hotels either but circumstances called upon me to rise to the occasion.
It comes down to palate preference and since I enjoyed this dish for its own merit, no comparison is necessary. The ricotta crème appears to contain hints of other cheeses and the mushroom filling is shitake, which is a bit of a disappointment but I hear the new chef is out of the country.
The texture of the pasta was outstanding, light and delicate, unlike the cream cheese sauce which can take down a grown man for the afternoon.