It used to be a little nondescript warung on the beach. Just a place to escape to! The beach restoration work at Sanur started, and kept on for years, at the same time the tourists stayed away, and as a result all the local beach-site places faced gradual bankruptcy. But still they loved the warung on the beach, so Mr. and Mrs. Holt bought it and another little Chilli was born.
Now the beach has been restored to its pristine best, the reclamation work completed, and the area is full of people once more. Furthermore the tourists are back in Bali in force. The little warung has been tarted up a bit, protective plastic sheets added for those days when the wind blows from the wrong direction, but it is still totally beach-side and casual. You feel as if you are on the beach but without getting sand in your toes! Or sand in your food, for that matter.
The menu, of course, is Italian! Pizzas, breads and other things all baked in the giant wood-fired oven. Open early in the morning for a beach-side breakfast, even the Eggs Benedict is Italian [served on fresh hot foccaccia]. Breakfast soon becomes brunch in Bali so until midday you can also enjoy such delights as Smoked Marlin Scrambled Eggs with avocado toast and lemon-mustard mayonnaise. A snack during the day, then try the Panini Sandwiches, or a Chicken Schnitzel or Turkey Ham on Ciabatta. Judging by the numbers seen eating them the wraps are very popular here. The Balkan Beef Wrap [that Yugoslav word for minced meat that I can never pronounce or spell], and the Greek Chicken are leading examples. The Stiff Chilli Hamburger is served with tadziki on foccaccia, slightly different!
You just want a plate of pasta? It is freshly made and hard to find better anywhere else. Their simple Agnolotti di Magro my long time favourite; beef ravioli topped with sage butter All the traditional pastas are available but for something different try the Tagliolini all' Inchiostro [black ink spaghetti with a creamy marlin sauce] or Tagliolini Verdi alla Putanesca con Cozze [a wonderful spinach pasta topped with half shells of American mussels in a tangy sauce].
Normal meals begin with appetizers. Here they are simple but tasty! That Stiff Chilli special pumpkin soup is here, of course [Passatta di Zucca], pumpkin soup with lemon grass and coconut cream. It is so good that other places copy it! A little bit of fusion arrives with the Carpaccio di Tonno [a Cajun crusted raw tuna carpaccio style]. Layers of paper thin slices of tuna are topped with a lemon mayonnaise and a pile of rocket.
As you are at the seaside, seafood figures prominently on this menu. Everything from simple Seafood Kebabs to Lobsters [grilled, boiled or fried] and a full Seafood Platter, Misto di Pesce alla Griglia. Grilled King Prawns or Fish are other alternatives and then there is Baby Octopus and Calamari, as only the Italians seem to be able to cook without it becoming like leather.
For meat lovers how can you go past the Grigliata di Carne, a mixed meat grill consisting of filet steak, chicken and those wonderful spicy Italian sausages. Or just enjoy the sausages alone [with pan-fried sliced potato]. A different Italian sausage is featured each week; Chicken and Rocket, Pork and Fennel or a garlicky Roman, all meaty sausages with real taste!
Saltimbocxca alla Romana is the traditional veal scallopini with prosciutto in a white wine sauce.
An then there are those Stiff Chilli Pizzas, straight from that wood-fired oven, the base so thin and crisp it sometimes breaks in your hand because of the high pile of toppings. You can have a simple Pizza Napoli [tomatoes, mozzarella and anchovies], or pizza fusion with Indiana [tandoori chicken] or Pollo [chicken with Balinese spices]. Forget your cholesterol levels and dig into the Pizza Speck [gorgonzola cheese and double smoked speck], just go for a 5km. run the next day! The Calzone Ripeno [folded pizza crust that looks like an English Pastie] is stuffed with ricotta, smoked ham and mushrooms]. Beats a toasted sandwich anyday!
The wine list is limited, but very reasonably priced, by bottle or glass, and the coffees are what you would expect from a real barista, even a perfectly made Macchiato, or an interesting Mocha Frappe!
This is a casual place where you can relax, at anytime of the day. Enjoy a snack, pasta, pizza or full meal, without spending a fortune but yet still enjoying good quality food. And if the wife talks too much, then you can just gaze at the water sports, or other interesting sights along the beach!