Friday, January 6, 2012

PiPa Restaurant and Nişantaşı by Night: Pre New Year's Eve

Dear readers,

As I mentioned in my previous blog article, December was a very busy month for me with work and my little Luka getting sick, but I still did find the time to go out - albeit not as much as I would have liked too! I hope to make up for this in the New Year and have already started on my quest!!

Besides Ca'd'oro, another new restaurant I visited in December was PiPa in Nişantaşı. This fairly newcomer burst on the scene about a month or so ago and in a very short time, the "buzz" was that it's a wonderful new Italian restaurant!

So, since I was meeting my very good friend Nur for a night out before New Year's Eve, we decided to first to go to Nişantaşı to see the decorations and then have an early dinner (7:30pm) at PiPa on December 28th.

We met at Nişantaşı Brasserie (I will be writing about this place in my next article) for a quick drink and then started walking around Abdi Ipekçi Street which looked absolutely gorgeous with all the decorations! In fact, there was a red carpet on the street too, so of course, like the rest of the crowd, we took lots of pictures and below are some examples...We also walked along Atiye Street which is a side street off of Abdi Ipekçi and closed to traffic which was also very nicely decorated.

Me (left), Nur (right) - Abdi Ipekçi Street

On the "red carpet" on Abdi Ipekçi Street

Abdi Ipekçi Street square

Atiye Street

A big kudos goes to Mustafa Sarıgül, the Mayor of the Municipality of Şişli! He has done and continues to do a fantastic job in ensuring that the areas he is responsible for are always in tip top shape and efforts to renovate and rebuild many of the neighborhoods in his jurisdiction are continuing...

Just a small footnote for those readers not familiar with Istanbul - Nişantaşı and especially Abdi Ipekçi Street is the Fifth Avenue or in my opinion.. the Avenue Montaigne of Istanbul. The 6-7 city block long street is home to Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, Brandroom, Jo Malone, L'Occitane, Vakko, Beymen Department Store, Godiva, and so so much more!

After our brief walk, it was now time to head to PiPa. So, we walked back up along Abdi Ipekçi Street where it intersects with Rumeli Caddesi and after crossing the street, hung a left and then the first right to Süleyman Nazif Sokak. We weren't sure exactly where on the street this new restaurant was, but simply, it is only a few steps up the street - on the left hand side over an indoor parking lot.

Not knowing what to expect, we walked up the stairs of the apartment building it is housed in and were greeted by a hostess at the entrance behind a desk... the hostess confirmed our reservation (don't go without one as they are usually packed), our coats were taken to the coat check room and then the hostess escorted us down a long narrow very elegantly decorated hallway lined with all sorts of wines to the main dining area...

PiPa hallway
And...we were like WOW! as we entered the main area. The first thing we saw on the right hand side in front of us was an open kitchen with the chefs at work and in front of the kitchen was a long high table with communal seating. From there we entered the main dining area and another wow! The walls were covered with floor to ceiling glass, right in the center was a rectangular bar with seating and the dining tables were scattered around a bi-level platform. I took a picture... it's not the best, but since it was crowded, I didn't want to bother the other diners by disrupting their fun or meals.


PiPa's glass lined walls
We were amazed at how big the space was and the high ceilings... who would have thought that a place in an apartment building could be so large, but we later found out that this was once a level of the parking lot, so that made sense!

Although we had reservations, we were asked to wait at the bar and knew there was a small problem. A portion of the bar is also allocated for dining and has very comfotable seating because your feet or not dangling from a bar stool as it's on a platform. We ordered a bottle of wine while we waited. The wine list is okay, but like in most others venues around town, I always find the wine lists lacking in selections and the prices a bit higher than what the wine is worth. The bottle we ordered was a Kavaklıdere/Selection (Boğazkere) and it was 95TL. With the wine, we were served a plate of real Parmesan cheese pieces instead of mixed nuts which I personally think is a much better idea!

We were finally escorted to our table at 8:00pm. What had happened was that an "unexpected" VIP group had showed up without a reservation and had to be accommodated, so they had to rearrange and juggle the customers with reservations. This of course is a very "a la Turca" incident and didn't make me very happy, but the food and efficient service did make up for it by the end of the evening!

PiPa - which is the first two letters of pizza and pasta has a modest sized menu. Unfortunately, due to the dim lighting and although each table has it's own elegant lighting hanging from the center of the table, it was very difficult to read because the menu was black and the menu selections were written in a light yellow (if it was white, it would have been much easier to read).

As can be expected, we were told that pizza is their specialty. But, normally, I don't prefer to eat pizza at dinner, although I love it! We weren't in the mood for pasta either, so when our waiter informed us that there was a meat and fish "special of the day" - we opted for the Grilled Tenderloin of Beef. We also decided to share an appetizer - Breasola.

While we waited for the food to come, we were served homemade bread with olive oil and sea salt on the side...I usually stay away from white bread (there is no whole wheat or dark bread), but it was too good to pass up!

Then the Breasola arrived...

Bresaola with slices of Parmesan cheese on a bed of Mediterranean greens
And.. it was very very good and cost 27 TL. The portion was more than enough for two people and most importantly, the quality of the breasola and Parmesan cheese was topnotch. Also, it was on a bed of Mediterranean greens which were seasoned just right with a vinaigrette dressing, so nothing extra had to be added to give it a kick. This is usually overlooked at some other eateries, but properly prepared at PiPa.

Our main course was Grilled Tenderloin of Beef...

Grilled Tenderloin of Beef
It was served on a bed of baked potatoes (with the skin removed) with a side of caramelized onions and toasted garlic bread. It is usually never easy to cook such a thick piece of meat the way you want it in a very busy kitchen. However, Nur wanted hers medium and I wanted mine medium-well and they were both cooked just right. This dish cost 52 TL! It was kind of expensive and since it was a special of the day, we hadn't asked the waiter the price. However, I personally think that in Turkey when there are specials that are not clipped on to the menu, the waiter should tell you the price off front, like they do abroad, so that there aren't surprises at the end of the evening. Normally, I have no qualms about asking the price myself, but for some reason, it slipped my mind.

Although we really didn't have room for dessert  - we said "what the heck", it's the holidays and ordered a Tiramisu (can't remember the price exactly, but it was between 15-17 TL)...

Although the tiramisu looked very good and it was homemade and fresh, it didn't taste as good unfortunately. It's important that real mascarpone cheese is used and that was evident, however, the rum content was not sufficient so it tasted too sweet... just with a little twicking (rum!) it will definitely taste better!

As with all good things - there are also downsides at PiPa, but nothing that can't be fixed. First, because of the high ceilings and the very nice and modern decor, there is a problem with the acoustics and the noise bounces all over the place! Also, PiPa definitely needs a new sound system and DJ! The speakers are not strategically placed and instead of hearing the music, you just hear a "thump thump thump"... but then again, the music played is not really suitable for such a lovely place and definitely has to be worked on! I'm sure the owners are aware of these issues and will do whatever is needed to fix them.

All in all PiPa, is a very nice place and incredibly you feel like you are in a restaurant in the USA, instead of on a side street in Nişantaşı over an indoor parking lot! I definitely recommend that you try it - but definitely make reservations!

PiPa is open daily from noon to midnight and the kitchen closes at 11:00pm. (Süleyman Nazik Sokak No. 7/B, Nişantaşı; Tel: (0212) 225 74 72;

Finally, there is an outdoor terrace for smokers...

If you do go to PipA based on my blog write-up, please let me know. Would love to get some feedback! Enjoy!



  1. A lot of thanks for your entire hard work on this blog. Gloria delights in participating in investigations and it is obvious why. Almost all notice all concerning the powerful tactic you make insightful secrets through the web site and as well foster contribution from the others on that theme and our own princess is without a doubt being taught a whole lot. Enjoy the rest of the new year. You're carrying out a good job.
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  2. Thanks for your comment Cynthia... but I'm "lost" after the first sentence.. who is Gloria and by "princess" are you talking about my "prince" Luka?