Prezzo pasta a test for flavours

Ital­ian chain could ri­val fam­ily run restau­rants

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - Eating Out - By Scott Beg­bie

IT LOOKS like we are in­cu­bat­ing Aberdeen’s first Ital­ian Quar­ter with­out any­one notic­ing. On the up­per deck of Union Square, the mall is now home to five – count ‘em, five – restau­rants that can lay claim to Ital­ian roots. Any more and this will be the place ex pats from Rome and Naples flock to when the World Cup is on. Not that it’s a bad thing to be blessed with so many places of­fer­ing a feast of pasta and pizza. Af­ter all, there’s a rea­son Ital­ian food is so pop­u­lar – it’s good. Well, to be spe­cific, when it’s done well it’s good. There are some places out there tak­ing lib­er­ties with food the way mama would never have made it. So, it was in­ter­est­ing to see which side of the fence the Aberdeen branch of the Prezzo chain fell on when we dropped in for a ca­sual fam­ily meal. The open­ing salvo was a dish I doubt you’d find for lunch in Florence – Ital­ian na­chos. But it was a par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing fu­sion with Mex­i­can cui­sine, with tor­tilla chips slathered with in­tense pesto, burst­ing-with-flavour cherry toma­toes, a touch of onion and melted cheese. A touch on the greasy side, it was more-ish none the less. There was a flurry of hands to get the best “juicy bits” – largely driven by the hunger pangs af­ter the longish wait for the starter to ar­rive. Since our warm wel­come to this glit­ter­ing place – it’s all funky wood and mir­rors – the ser­vice had been on the slow, verg­ing on off-hand, side. How­ever, some­thing changed – a shift changeover per­haps as we were din­ing early – and our new waitress picked up the pace and the charm of­fen­sive. We didn’t have too long to wait for the mains – and could even watch the chef whip­ping up pizza at the huge, cen­tral flam­ing oven. Our loon had de­cided to try his first cal­zone (“think pizza folded and baked”, I told him) and was glad he did. It was golden and burst­ing with spicy pep­per­oni, sea­soned chicken, crispy pancetta and onions with a big hit of rose­mary in the po­modoro sauce. Mrs B had stepped out a bit with

her choice from the grill – char­grilled chicken with pro­sciutto ham and plum tomato slices. For a fairly sim­ple dish, it punched well above its weight on the favour front – the virtue of fresh in­gre­di­ents treated well. But when it came to flavour, my lob­ster and crab tortelli was the hands down win­ner. Parcels of pasta, stuffed with the tasti­est seafood, were just a del­i­cate de­light on the first bite. Then sec­onds later, the chilli shot through the mix de­liv­ered a burst of fire to the taste­buds. Mirac­u­lously, it didn’t drown out the shell­fish, but ac­tu­ally lifted the flavour, along with the sub­tle saf­fron sauce. It was one of the finest pasta dishes I’d had in ages. And as an added bonus, the fussy-eat­ing princess in our gang of four loved her spag bol. As chains go, Prezzo has the mix right be­tween cor­po­rate ef­fi­ciency and treat­ing the cui­sine with the care and re­spect it de­serves. Smooth out the ser­vice and you have a force even the most tra­di­tional, fam­ily Ital­ian restau­rant has to reckon with.

WITH A SMILE: Waitress Dorota Kruk.

CIAO: Din­ers, from left, Lana, Gemma, Elise and Chloe Set­ter AT­TEN­TIVE: Some of the restau­rant staff, from left, Zivile Karazaite, Michot Soko­towski and Corinna Adam­son.

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