I had a chance to visit the Veliko Turnovo region of Bulgaria, while accompanying my husband on a business trip. For those of you unfamiliar with Veliko Turnovo; also call the “City of Tzars”, it is an important town, rich with architecture and history. During Second Bulgarian Empire, which existed approximately from the 11th – 14th centuries, it was the capital city. One of the most prominent features of the town is the Tzarevetz castle. Anyone visiting Bulgaria should include Veliko Turnovo on their to do list. During the summer evenings you can see a fantastic laser light show over the castle, which tells the castle’s historical story through lights and music.
As usually, when looking for restaurants outside of Sofia, things are a bit hit and miss. TripAdvisor usually provides the most information, but I do take it with a grain of salt. That was how I found Ego – Pizza and Grill, which was listed as the number two restaurant in town.
Ego is a pizza and grill spot so, what I immediately noticed was the brick oven. I am rather partial to the brick oven pizza as it has a crisper, more substantial crust. Mushy pizzas that you need to cut with a knife and a fork loose their luster quickly. Some Bulgarians that I have spoke to prefer the softer crust.
The decor had this dark and brooding vibe. The way the light shone through the glass cube windows gave this warm glow that my camera couldn’t quite capture.
The most spectacular part about Ego was the view. From the front it is at street level, but from behind you have this breathtaking vista with the castle in the back left. We didn’t stay late enough to see the night lightshow over Tzarevets, but from comments I read online, it is a decent vantage point.
As usual, I ordered a caprese salad. This is a habit of mine because since I order it almost everywhere it is offered and it is a sort of litmus test for me. The salad is simple, tomatoes, fresh(-ish) mozzarella and basil or pesto sauce. To make this salad well, you need to focus on ingredient selection in order hit the mark. The freshness, ripeness, texture and temperature of the tomato, the quality and texture of the cheese, the use of fresh or dried basil leave or the seasoning and taste of the pesto. Other things that I look for is the plating, how the salad is arranged on the plate, does the artistry take precedence over the flavor and the biggest one factors for me is if it is offered year round or only in the summer.
This particular caprese salad had merit, the tomatoes were peeled pink tomatoes, but cold and under ripe, so rather flavorless, which is sad given that it was July. The cheese however was pleasant, they used fresh basil and pesto, but I couldn’t tell if it was homemade or from a jar. It needed salt, which I applied liberally due to the blandness of the tomato. All these things aside, it wasn’t bad as capreses go, I could have very well got the one iffy tomato, while the rest were superb, but I think the view and company of my lovely husband made everything tastier that night
For my main, I went for the Hot and Spicy pizza because they said it had pepperoni, which it was not. Regardless of this the pizza was good, although I omitted the chili sauce and hot peppers. I really enjoyed the crispness of the crust. Pizza is pizza, so you can’t really screw it up and this one was satisfying, but if I were to return, I would go with the pizza that had chorizo.
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