We’re always on the look-out for restaurants that serve tasty middle-eastern food like kebab, shawarma and hummus, so it was good news when we heard from an old contact that he re-opened his shawarma restaurant (formerly M2-Tiba restaurant on Xix Road) and this time in co-operation with another popular restaurant Gatto Matto pizza.
Gatto Matto Pizza & Bar sits just next to the original Gatto Matto shop on Huanggushan Road. The dining area is almost 3 times the size of the original and can sit many more customers. They offer an expanded pizza, pasta and salad menu as well as a halal menu for the middle-eastern food.
Starting at the top, let’s talk about sauces: Gatto Matto’s hummus has vastly improved and Hangzhou is in turn much improved by Gatto Matto’s central location to allow easier access to that hummus (with a side of pita chips, 25RMB). They also handed me their new Mediterranean platter, a vegan platter including mutabel (an eggplant sauce, similar to baba ganoush), a very zesty handmade tomato paste, and that aforementioned hummus, all served with wedges of Gatto Matto’s fantastic focaccia pizza crust.
Speaking of crusts, two of their pizzas really spoke to my sensibilities, one was their classic Godfather pizza. This one without the tang of tomato sauce, emphasized and clarified the smoothness and creaminess of its mushrooms and cheese. The other was their new Roast Lamb and Feta Pizza, a fantastic fusion from the more eastern side of Gatto Matto’s Mediterranean kitchen. This one was also free of tomato sauce, but doubled down on the strong flavors of its sour, salty cheese and deliciously seasoned meat.
Which brings me to the meat: Gatto Matto really hit it out of the park here, with every dish making a deep and positive impression. Their chicken nuggets are an upgraded take on a bar food classic and add a crispier breading and a much juicier bite. That chicken can also be enjoyed on their Chicken Panini with a smothering of spicy sauce on whole wheat bread. After that, I had their BBQ grilled chicken—
Indulge me in a little aside: I feel like China has lowered my expectations for what chicken should be like. It’s often dry, or oily, often full of bone shards. Chicken from a grill innately looks delicious but also often kind of dry. That’s normal, part of the charcoal cooking process; the sauce cooks into the chicken, etc, but I often approach chicken in China with the expectation that it will be dry (if it’s not greasy as hell).
Gatto Matto’s BBQ grilled chicken is FANTASTIC, a revelation in Hangzhou. A common thread through all their chicken offerings is that they’re incredibly juicy, but man, that grilled stuff, I kept going back to that same plate and those huge, meaty chunks probably ruined my appetite a bit for everything else I was trying to appraise. It’s served with some dip on the side and some flatbread which are awesome as well, but honestly that chicken is good enough to stand on its own two saucy legs.
If you’re indecisive, you might also consider ordering their new BBQ platter with the full spread of nearly all their various (unwrapped) meat offerings which is fantastic for a group, or one very greedy sampler; if you’re in the mood for wraps though Gatto Matto’s Shawarma is great as it always is, but I realized as I was polishing off the plates is how many small details Gatto Matto gets right, even the garnishes are delicious, they include pickled carrot, which you don’t see often in China!
Drinks include soft drinks (8-25RMB), beers (15-30RMB), wine (30RMB a glass) and cocktails (25-35RMB). Smoking permitted inside and shishas also available.
The new menu starts on Sept. 27th, 2019, which serendipitously coincides with Gatto Matto’s anniversary party so maybe try not to miss it! If you’re feeling peckish earlier in the week, Wednesday is Gatto Matto’s 2-for-1 pizza day. See you there!
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