This place covers good pasta . . . sometimes literallyEver heard of a dough-covered pasta dish? Probably not, especially at most restaurants serving Italian fare in Korea. But at Il Mare, the menu offers the uncommon -- thin dough encasing steamy pasta.
This singular pasta and Il Mare have become synonymous. Il Mare, Italian for “the sea,” has ten branches, but the Insa-dong branch is the one most often visited by film stars and artists.
Il Mare’s speciality is, unsurprisingly, the seafood rendition of its dough covered pasta, served either in tomato or cream sauce. The dough is baked on after the pasta is cooked and the sauce added. When the dish is served, the waiter slices the thin dough in a crisscross pattern, and loosens the baked dough from the sides of the dish, revealing in the nooks and crannies a stewing, bubbling pasta with clams, mussles and baby shrimp.
Il Mare says its pasta dishes are made in the southern Italian style. Whether or not they are an authentic effort, the dishes come in many varieties: sauces ranging from tomato base or cream base to simple olive oil and garlic. They might contain anything from mushrooms to meatballs. Any dish can come with or without the signature dough topping.
Staying true to the restaurant’s name, most of the pasta dishes are seafood creations, such as a tempting special containing mussles and crabmeat. In fact, no chicken dish is offered. But for those who wish to dine on something other than pasta, steak and seafood are on the menu. The appetizers and salads are also mouth-watering, especially the crabmeat pancake. Garlic bread is served gratis, as well as pickles and jalapenos.
Prices range from 11,000 won ($9.25) to 16,000 won. The house wine can be ordered by the glass or bottle.
Il Mare’s interior is cozy and comfortable, if not plush. Tables are adorned with linen and small glasses with floating candles. Black and white photos of the American actresses Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor adorn the walls.
Want southern Italy? Il Mare does not take you there, but a little imagination combined with the aroma of the inventive dishes can push you closer to the Mediterranean in this very inviting restaurant located in one of Seoul's most sophisticated neighborhoods.
No sandals or shorts.
Hours: 11:30 am -
10: 30 pm
Open all week
by Choi Jie-ho