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Strada

There does seem to be a plethora of Italian restaurants around at the moment. It might be because of our obsession with pizza or the fact that pasta is so good for you, but there does seem to be a lot around! So how can you tell if you’re getting the true Italian experience or just another chain restaurant?

Well, one way is to compare them to actual Italian restaurants in Italy. They don’t just offer the usual pizza and pasta – they do offer other types of food using local ingredients and giving a real taste of Italian sunshine and passion. When you walk into Strada you get that feeling. Yes, you can pick one of the ten different pizzas or one of the six different pasta dishes but there are also other interesting meals such as ‘Salsicce Mantovana’ which is roasted Italian pork sausages on rosemary infused borlotti beans with grilled polenta and swiss chard, or ‘Tegamaccio’ a Puglia style fish stew of clams, mussels, red mullet, squid, prawns, white wine, tomato and herbs – not the type of Italian menu you usually get.

We chose to start with ‘Gnocchi Sorrentina’ which is potato gnocchi tossed with plum tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato sauce and basil, and ‘Antipasto Misto’. Now I didn’t know this but ‘Gnocchi’ means ‘lumps’ which is perfectly apt for the dish and they looked like little lumps of potato, perfectly cooked and with a delicious sauce. My Antipasto arrived and as usual gave a selection of Italian meats, buffalo mozzarella, vine ripened tomatoes, olives and warm ciabatta – a real taste of Italy on a single plate!

For mains I went for a pasta dish, and yes, I know what I said earlier about trying different main courses but in my defence I wanted to try something seasonal, so went for ‘Panzerotti Porcini’ pasta filled with Porcini mushrooms, ricotta and grana padano in sage butter. The wonderfully fragrant mushrooms were quite frankly a joy to behold and I savoured every single mouthful. My other half went for one of the specials on offer that night – a lobster risotto with butter and herbs. To say his mouth was watering after he’d finished would have been an understatement.

For dessert, I went totally classic with a vanilla pannacotta served with a blueberry and raspberry coulis which tasted as good as it looked, and my partner went for something a little bit different ‘Torroncino Affogato’ which was an iced nougat semi-freddo with a hot shot of espresso on the side which we were then told should be poured over the top. It gave off the most unbelievable aroma of warm coffee, and apparently tasted delicious. As with any good Italian restaurant you get the choice of an extensive wine list and coffees for after the meal. It also offers a good value children’s menu with a main meal, dessert and drink for just £4.50.

Overall, I was very impressed with the range of food on offer at Strada, it gives you feeling of being in a true Italian restaurant, not just another chain trying to play at being Italian. But if you do try it out, step out of your pizza and pasta comfort zone and go for something a bit different and get a true taste of Italy.

Summary:
All in all Strada is a very good restaurant, great food served by knowledgeable staff and gives you a real taste of Italy. It would be equally suitable for a romantic meal for two, a get together with friends or a family meal (Italians love children!). The range of food is good and the prices are very reasonable – belissimo!

Facilities:

Disabled facilities
The restaurant is all on one level for easy access plus disabled toilet facilities are available.

Parking
FREE 3 hours parking at Sainsburys just 2 minute walk away. Other daytime parking can be difficult and costly (pay and display). Evenings, after 6.00pm, there is plenty of parking available and it is free.

Other amenities
Alfresco dining area available. Good value children’s menu available. Good value set menus for evening and lunchtime are also available.