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Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza is surprisingly spacious inside.

Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza is surprisingly spacious inside. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza is surprisingly spacious inside.

Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza is surprisingly spacious inside. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Buddha Restaurant provides Indian dishes at lunch and dinner.

Buddha Restaurant provides Indian dishes at lunch and dinner. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

An order of prawns marsala at Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza takes the chill off a cold winter day.

An order of prawns marsala at Buddha Restaurant in Vicenza takes the chill off a cold winter day. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Spinach with potatoes at Buddha Restaurant in Vincenza is reminiscent of creamed spinach but far spicier.

Spinach with potatoes at Buddha Restaurant in Vincenza is reminiscent of creamed spinach but far spicier. (Nancy Montgomery/Stars and Stripes)

Prawns baked with fresh tomato, peppers and onion; spinach with potatoes baked with tomato and spices; lamb baked with coconut; garlic-scented nan: I’m not convinced there’s a more comforting cuisine for the depths of winter than saucy, spicy Indian.

On a recent cold, damp day, I ordered all the above at Vicenza’s Buddha Restaurant. Soon enough, I felt a spreading warmth.

I’d heard mixed reviews of the restaurant and wondered where it fell on the south Asian restaurant scale between cheap fast food and the divine lunch at the Islamabad Marriott. Like the prices, the food was somewhere in the middle.

I arrived around 2 p.m. and found just two other parties inside a long, narrow space painted in shades of teal and saffron. The lighting was low, the music was Indian and the friendly staff spoke English.

They handed me a lunch menu, with multiple courses — vegetarian, chicken or fish — bread and beverages for between 10 and 12 euros (about $11 to $13). But I decided to order off the capacious dinner menu. The menu is organized by main ingredient — vegetables, seafood, chicken and lamb, most of them sauced or curried. there are also various rice dishes and tandoori or grilled dishes.

As the Buddha menu points out, different regions on the subcontinent have their own styles of cooking: cream, yogurt, clarified butter and nuts characterize northern dishes. Chili and coconut are staples in the south. The British Raj influenced the cuisine as well, with some curries being akin to a Tex-Mex chimichanga.

It was hard to decide. I love south Asian food — its complex sweet and sour flavors, its scents of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and turmeric, the romance of the words themselves.

Chicken in mango sauce sounded nice, but so did swordfish in coconut and spices, chicken in cashew cream, and basmati rice with vegetables, dried fruits, cheese and spices.

I was happiest with my prawns, but that could be because I was full by the time the lamb and spinach arrived. I took home leftovers that will last for days. I plan to become a Buddha regular at least for the rest of the winter.

montgomery.nancy@stripes.com

Buddha Restaurant

Address: Corso Padova, 18, 36100 Vicenza VI

Hours: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday; 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.

Prices: Moderate. Entrees run from 7 to 15 euros (about $7.60 to $16). Rice and vegetable dishes run from 3 to 6 euros; nan or flatbread is 2.50 euros; desserts, such as coconut ice cream or cake, are 3 euros.

English menu: Yes

Information: Phone: (+ 39) 0444 300961; website: www.buddha resturant.com

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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