My last experience of Italian food in Amsterdam was an exceptionally bad one. I was visiting the city with a friend who, on this particular day, was suffering with a severe hangover and didn’t get out of bed until 8pm.
After dragging him out we stayed close to the hotel and ended up at a restaurant in Leidseplein at 10pm on a week night- the Dutch don’t eat late and many restaurants had already stopped serving. There was only one other occupied table in the restaurant and they left shortly after we were seated. I remember clearly what I ordered even years later. I am truly haunted by the experience.
My starter of bruchetta arrived in the form of three mammoth slabs of stale bread topped with cupfuls of unseasoned, flavourless tomatoes. There was nothing redeeming about it but it remained a better choice than my poor comrade. He’d ordered garlic escargot which turned out to canned and thenmicrowaved.
My main was supposed to be chicken in a red wine and tomato sauce- something I thought would be too simple to screw up. How wrong I was.
A huge plate arrived piled high with greasy-skinned chicken and undercooked sauce and, to my great concern, a second plate followed- it contained enough spaghetti to feed a family of four and even that was overcooked and sticky and had been microwaved until it was steaming.
It was possibly the worst meal I’ve ever been served (I didn’t eat much) and what made it worse was the owner and three members of staff watching our table and becoming offended when we said we didn’t like the food. This, and the Dutch reputation for bastardising foreign cuisines, put me off Italian food in Amsterdam for a long time. However- I am now back on the horse.