After hearing Rotalsnart's review, I had to go try it out for myself. *
Wow! Fantastic food! It's a bit outside of my normal East Taipei stomping grounds, but it's remarkably easy to get to. If you take the MRT, get off at Taipei Main Station and leave through either Exit 2 or Exit 6. If you're going by car, the best approach is to head south towards Zhongxiao on Chongqing South Road, and turn left on Zhongxiao West Road. Drive a block or so, and you'll see K Mall on the right. Turn right and right again, and you'll be able to park in the K Mall parking garage. Take the elevator to the 5th floor and you're there!
Ok, now on to the restaurant itself. The restaurant is a family friendly (they have high chairs), non-pretentious, spacious, environment, decorated in a Tuscan style. Despite being a brand new restaurant, the staff were friendly and attentive, and seemed to know what they were doing. (Disclaimer - we were there late, and most of the customers had already been served.)
Here's a snapshot of the place:
Like Rotalsnart, we started with the beef ancinis (meatballs), and they were fantastic! Crispy on the outside, and served in a fantastic marinara sauce. I'd never had them before, but I'd definitely order them again!
They were described on the menu as "arborio croquettes rolled in fresh bread crumbs, stuffed with beef and mozzarella cheese, fried golden brown, and served with a zesty marinara."
We also ordered seafood skewers, described as "skewered chunks of shrimp, white fish, salmon, zucchini, and tomatoes, basted in olive oil and grilled with fresh herbs and lemon.". That also didn't disappoint, and was probably the first time I've ever had a seafood skewer where the seafood outnumbered the vegetables. I was particulary impressed with the freshness of the shrimp and the scallops. More and more it seems restaurants are soaking their seafood in a special solution that preserves the "plumpness" of the seafood at the expense of taste. I'm glad that cucina sole is not one of those restaurants! Here is a picture I took of the seafood skewers. (Oh, and apologies for the quality of the photos, but I had left my real camera at home - these iPhone shots will have to suffice.)
We followed up the appetizers with a lasagna bolognese, a salmon steak served with herbed mashed potatoes, and some pork, ham, and sage skewers that were just fantastic. The pictures are here:
The wine list was extensive, with something for all tastes and price ranges (and all Italian, of course), but we stuck to beer last night. Next time I'll try and leave some space for dessert, because that looked quite good as well.
Anyway, this restaurant is a welcome addition to Taipei's culinary scene, and the fact that it's WEST of Zhongshan and still easy to get to, will make this a very attractive dining option for foreigners and Taiwanese alike.
Oh, one last thing I should mention - many of the items come in two sizes, "regular" (which is already a very generous portion), and "family" which is a huge portion, suitable for four people. Definitely the way to go at this place is to order several dishes and share as a group. *Full disclaimer: The owner of Cucina Sole is a personal friend of mine, but not a good enough friend that I'd write anything other than an honest review on Forumosa. The food really is THAT good.