St. Martin: Il Nettuno

Il Nettuno
70 Grand Case Boulevard
Grand Case

At one end of French St. Martin’s restaurant row, Grand Case, are the low-key lolos. At the other end, are a variety of higher-end restaurants ranging from nouveau French to Indian to Caribbean. In the mix is Il Nettuno, a hidden gem – which turned out to be one of the best Italian meals we have had in a long while. The restaurant is in the classic trattoria model, but boasts the unusual combination of an owner who spent 25 years in America, a Caribbean location and a French wait staff. Eating at an Italian restaurant smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean was definitely an interesting experience, but it didn’t take us long to be charmed. Our Maurice Chevalier-esque maître d’ notwithstanding, one of the biggest selling points were the gorgeous views of the ocean right of the shaded deck. We arrived just at sunset, and were treated to some amazing vistas

The menu at Il Nettuno boasted a variety of Italian classics, with an emphasis on seafood dishes. It’s definitely a bit pricier than the lolos, at about 16-25 euros for most main dishes. As we were perusing the menu, we were served a free plate of delicious bruschetta on crusty French bread.

For my dinner, I selected the special of the day: lobster ravioli in vodka sauce (€17). The menu claimed that seafood was a specialty of the house, and given the location, I didn’t doubt it. The lobster was fresh and sweet and the vodka sauce was a perfect blend of cream and tomatoes. We also ordered Rigatoni freschi con prosciutto, funghi, e rucola (€17): rigatoni with mushrooms, prosciutto, garlic and butter and Fusilli con melanzane alla Siciliana Fusilli (€17): fusilli pasta with eggplant, mozzarella and Sicilian tomatoes. Both pasta dishes were generously portioned, tasty and contained absolutely fresh produce (surprising given the location).

However, we all agreed that the best dish of the bunch was my mother’s pick – the Chicken Marsala (€19) with a delicious sweet potato mash, whipped potatoes and green beans. Since we eat a certain amount of Italian food at home, one of the best judgments of quality we have – is ‘could I have made this better myself?’ My mom makes a mean Chicken Marsala, but this one was even better. The chicken was not heavy or over-breaded (as often happens) and the Marsala sauce was rich and not too salty.

To finish off the meal, we let them know that there was a birthday in the group, so they brought out a free slice of tiramisu. It just happened to work out that the birthday girl’s favorite dessert was in fact tiramisu, and it didn’t hurt that Il Nettuno makes an excellent rendition. All in all we were extremely pleased with our dinner at Il Nettuno. The ocean-side atmosphere was charming, the food excellent and the service was great. We would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a slice of Italy with a little Caribbean touch.

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