Montalto (Dreaming of reasonably priced food)

montalto italian restaurant moscow

Moscow is not, generally speaking, a gastronomical delight. Food is generally expensive and without the taste to match it.

Here’s the basic breakdown of cost, per person, if you’re eating at a mid-level restaurant in Moscow:

Starter: 200-600 rubles ($6-20)
Entree: 500+ ($15+)
Dessert: 400+ ($12)

And the drinks, of course, will totally kill your tab:
Beer (0,5 L): 170 – 400 rubles ($6-12)
Cocktails: you’re lucky if you can find a rum and coke under 300 ($10)

I guess it’s not so expensive, but when you’re basically paying for something fried and/or rubbery, as well as watered-down drinks, it’s kind of a downer to get a check that comes up to about 1000 rubles ($30) per person.

A string of terribly mediocre food got me thinking about one of the restaurants I’ve most enjoyed in Moscow: Montalto.

It was opened in 2011 by an American businessman with a passion for pizza – and he really did a great job bringing both great Italian food and excellent American service. Occasionally, the waitresses will actually smile at you! One of the best parts of the restaurant (aside from, you know, the food) is the open floor plan – a lot of space between tables is an absolute rarity in Moscow.

In the two times I’ve been, the food has always been really good. Go for the pizza. It’s the clear winner and you can even watch it being prepared in the wood-burning oven in the restaurant area. As a vegetarian, I can’t comment on everything on the menu, but suffice to say I’ve seen everyone there stuffing food into their mouth like there’s no tomorrow. So that’s a good sign.

Of course it’s pretty pricey, although not anything unexpected. When we went out for the Russky’s birthday, we spent about 2500 rubles ($80)… And as I write that, I realize how absolutely insane it is that I’ve been trained to think that’s a normal price. Ahh! Look what Moscow’s done to me!

All that aside, for two entrees (a giant mushroom pizza and a bafflingly delicious pizza burger) and four drinks, Montalto is a good choice when you want decent Italian food and servers that might crack a smile.

Montalto (5 minute walk from metro Barrikadnaya.)


  1. Good food: the reason why while I am in the US (wrapping up my 2-week trip now) I try to eat out as much as possible :)

    One way that I have made a liiitle peace with Moscow pricing tho is by discounting everything by 30% in my mind. I dont know which state you’re from but I lived in NYC for 7 years, where the sales tax was nearly 9%, so when you added up the food/drinks cost, you still had to add basically 30% to that for tip and tax. Bc in Russia the tax is included and most places are still not expecting a proper tip (tho the ones that do, or include like a 10-15% on the bill REALLY bother me), so whatever the price is, it’s ‘final’. Of course that doesnt make the food better, but it makes me a little less irritated by the costs.

    And thanks for the recommendation, I am always looking for good places!


    1. I agree with the tax aspect — that’s true, but coming from a non-city to outrageous Moscow prices was definitely shocking!


  2. No decent affordable food in Moscow?! That is indeed a shock revelation. Living in a small town now, I so miss the fantastic, varied and international food offering of London. (It’s shit in the tourist areas, of course).


    1. Of course there’s some wonderful food here (but waaaay out of price range for normal people), but beyond mediocre pizza and sushi, Russia is kind of a sad food country. You’ve probably got better food where you are, small or not!


      1. Spain has good food, I can’t deny it. Just missing the variety. I would kill for a good curry right now…
        What about cakes? Does Russia do good desserts, at least…?


  3. The typical waitress attitude here is ‘you don’t pay me for my smile’. I guess it’s the same there! How much is a smile worth do you think?! ;)


    1. As a former waitress with a pasted-on smile, I’d hope that it’d be worth at least 20% :)


  4. I know what you mean about being ‘trained’ to think that those prices are ok. After 18 months in Singapore, I’m used to paying $18 for a pint of beer. Yes, $18. ‘Happy hour’ is now my favourite phrase!


    1. $18! Daaaamn. That’s tragic.


  5. Gee, makes me see Mario’s in a better light.


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