Restaurant Name: Assorti
Good familiar food at reasonable prices.
Assorti has a huge menu, but the focus seems to be on Italian fare including pizza, pasta, and meat dishes. There is also a Japanese and sushi menu, but I have never tried it. I'm not sure I understand why sushi is so often paired with Italian food in Astana.
I have tried the pasta and pizza and both are quite good. I wouldn't call the food excellent, but it is very familiar to my American palette as the sort of thing one could find at an Italian chain in any shopping center at home. My Russian teacher recommended Assorti for the pizza so it seems to have a good reputation with locals as well.
The menu has two pages of pizza choices from basic Pizza Margherite to more complicated combinations of peas, fish, veggies, etc. On my most recent visit, I ordered the Citta, ham and mushrooms with mozzarella and sauce. It was quite good; I'm glad I ordered the smaller size because I would have been tempted to eat an entire large if it had come to the table. The crust is soft and a bit too floppy, but it is nice and thin and tastes like New York style crust, my favorite. If I had made the pizza I would have put a little more sauce on it, but compared to some of the pizzas I've eaten in KZ, the proportions were pretty good.
Pizzas come in two sizes. The small is good for one to two people and costs around 1200 Tg depending on ingredients. The large costs around 1500 Tg and will easily feed two people, especially if ordered with one of the salads. I tried the Caesar on an earlier visit and I would definitely order it again.
Pasta dishes are also quite good at Assorti. Again, the pasta I've tried would be right at home in any American shopping mall. Maybe not quite as fresh as something like Olive Garden, but roughly on par with Fassolli's or Pasta House.
Pricing is not cheap, but very reasonable for the quality and overall dining experience. Beer and wine are cheaper than at many restaurants on the Left Bank. Try the Assorti Amber beer, it is the least expensive draft on the menu and not bad. I usually try to drink Line Brew at restaurants in town but it is a little too sour for me. I think the Assorti beer is slightly better.
Service at Assorti is excellent. My first visit was on New Year day so the restaurant was packed with families celebrating. I still didn't have to wait on a table and an English speaking waiter was even specially assigned to us.
There is an English menu and all of the waiters have been very good with my broken Russian if they didn't actually speak English.
Food comes fairly quickly although sometimes there is a wait for certain items. Like many restaurants in Astana, the food does not necessarily arrive at the same time so you have to either let it get cold or eat in sequence.
We have never had a problem with the check. Service is among the best quality of Assorti.
The atmosphere at Assorti is upscale casual. The decor is sort of a faux Italian villa motif. Booths have wide padded benches and overstuffed pillows. Colorful fabrics hang from the walls and of course there are fake grapevines hanging from lattice to divide space. It would be a good restaurant for a casual date, business meeting, or quick lunch.
It is a large restaurant with several separate spaces, but there are no very large tables unless they are hidden in a back room. I would not bring a group larger than six or eight to this restaurant.
There isn't anything overwhelming about Assorti, but I think that's its best quality. You can find better and more authentic Italian food at places like Portofino (I'll get around to writing a review eventually), but it will cost you dearly. Assorti is convenient and the food is fine on its own merits. To me it is a little taste of home (the US, not Italy) and I have begun to think of it as a place to go when I want something familiar. It certainly fills that role better than any of the burger joints or expat bars in town that I've tried.
Assorti is a chain, but I have only tried the one in Keruen so this review is specific to that location.