‘Look! I whispered to the Silver Fox.’There. He’s doing it again!’ We’re having dinner in Locanda de Gusti and I’ve just noticed that Head Chef Rosario Sartore actually smiles at the moment he’s ready to hand his creations over. A little tweak of a garnish here, a quarter turn of the plate there, the smile, and it’s ready for service.
For anyone who’s still under the misapprehension that Italian cuisine mainly features cheese and tomato on top of some form of carbohydrate, I’d encourage a visit to this stylish restaurant for a masterclass in how big Mediterranean flavours can be presented carefully and enthusiastically. So much so, they’ve recently opened a small deli and shop so that everyone can take a little flavour home with them.The front of house team are effusive in their welcome, and brought us home-made rolls and antipasti to snack on whilst looking over the menu. An entire page is devoted to specialities from Scottish waters, and so to start, the Silver Fox netted himself the zuppa di pesce (£8.95). Almost overflowing from the bowl were just-cooked langoustine, clams, mussels, squid, and at the bottom a tangy broth with lively notes of tomato and basil. I embraced the authentic ‘pasta’ as first course option, and had the mezzannelli (£7.95) a skinny long macaroni with chunks of pancetta, sweet scallops and a light but creamy butternut squash sauce. My appetite surprised me, as nearly every one of the al dente little tubes disappeared from my plate!Next, I had the lamb rib chops (£16.95) with acacia honey, breadcrumbs served with saffron-scented couscous. The little lamb lollipops were succulent and garnished with a sprinkle of rosemary, and the dish presented itself pretty close to perfect. With gusto, my amore approached his main course of orchiette pasta with an oxtail ragù (£11.95). It was topped with a generous dollop of soft ricotta which melted amongst the pasta.
Given the sheer enjoyment of the preceding courses, desserts (all £5.95) were a must! My fella had the show-stopping savarin al limone – a sweet, sticky cream-filled babà that just (but only just) overshadowed my ricotta and pear tart in its deliciousness.
The food, ambience and service were nothing short of exemplary, and I left knowing we’d return – pronto!