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Luigi’s Ristorante And Pizzeria, Upper Poppleton, York
When it comes to choosing a restaurant you can forget that old adage: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” If the exterior is dirty and shabby, the interior is likely to be too. As for the kitchens, let’s not even go there.
First impressions mean a lot, so we had high hopes for Luigi’s Restorante and Pizzeria, tucked just off the A59 near Wyevale Garden Centre, at Poppleton, York. As soon as we pulled into the car park, we knew we had made a good choice. It looked smart, and the grounds were neat and tidy with nice little potted conifers here and there. We were given a warm welcome by one of the waiters, and led to a table in the second of the large airy conservatories, with views on to a little garden area with a statue of St Francis of Assisi.
In fact, Luigis is full of nick-knacks and mementoes from the “old country”. There are photos of the leaning tower of Pisa, huge maps of Italy, old advertisements for Fiat and big bottles of unopened wine.
The place has a relaxing and laid-back Mediterranean feel, more Perugia than Poppleton. And it was spotlessly clean. The tables and highly polished tile floor were sparkling and gleaming. If the restaurant ran out of plates, this is one floor you could eat off.
We nibbled on highly moreish Italian breadsticks, sipped Peroni beer and fruit juices and studied the impressive menu, while listening to the traditional music in the background. The anti pasta menu (or starters) was pretty extensive. Dishes included alette di pollo (barbecue chicken wings with tartare sauce), melanzane parmigiana (sliced aubergines in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese), moules marinara (mussels cooked with garlic, tomato and white wine), and calamari fritti (deep fried squid with tartare sauce). Prices ranged from £3.80 to £7.25.
I usually don’t go for soup when we dine out, probably because being so clumsy I might spill it everywhere, but I fancied the homemade minestrone (£3.95). This came with large chunks of potatoes, courgettes, peas, cabbage and celery. It was wholesome and tasty and I didn’t spill a drop.
My wife, Jayne, was suitably impressed with her mozzarella caprese (fresh mozzarella cheese served with beef tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil and oregano, £5.95). The presentation was first class, as was the taste.
The main course menu was also extensive. Prices for pasta and pizza ranged from £6.95 to £8.95, while the other dishes were a little pricier, at between £11.95 and £16.95.
All the usual pasta dishes were available – lasagne, ravioli, risotto and spaghetti, while pizzas included margherita, hot salami, and ham and pineapple. Meat and fish dishes included lamb boscaiola (cutlets served in red wine, onions, mushrooms, demi-glace and tomato sauce), polla Milanese (chicken in breadcrumbs, fried and garnished with spaghetti in tomato sauce), saltimbocca (veal sautéed with white wine, sage and parma ham), and rombo provincale (halibut cooked in white wine, herbs and mushrooms).
After much deliberation, I went for the wonderful sounding Bistecca “Sophia Loren” (£16.95), sirloin steak cooked with mushrooms, onions, brandy, mustard, Apparently, Sophia Loren is the chef’s favourite actress, so he named a dish in her honour. And what a dish – rich, elegant and delicious, just like Sophia really. It came with a piping hot tureen of spinach, potatoes and carrots.
Jayne loved her 12-inch thin and crispy vegetable pizza (£7.80), which was topped with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and herbs. It was massive, and our waiter kindly put the leftovers in a cardboard box for us to enjoy later.
The kids tucked into a wonderful garlic bread (£3.80), which was smothered in garlic butter and herbs, and a portion of crunchy fries (£1.70). Although rather full, it seemed foolish not to sample the dessert menu. Choices included cheesecake brulée, tiramisu, profiteroles and zabaglione, and prices ranged from £3.50 to £4.50, which seemed reasonable.
Elliot had his eye on one particular sweet which was on display in a cabinet by the kitchen, but he changed his mind when his sister, Zara, chose a Vachy, a plastic cow toy filled with delicious ice-cream (£3.50). Obviously he wanted one too, so I got to finish off his “first choice”, pyramid crème anglaise (£4.25), a chocolate mousse pyramid, filled with crème anglaise, and topped with chocolate sauce. It was rich, moreish and very fattening. Delicious!
The bill came to just over £66, but £17 of that was on soft drinks for the kids and a beer. So not too bad. Luigi’s is a charming little place with great food, great atmosphere and great service. A return visit is definitely on the cards.
* Luigi’s Ristorante And Pizzeria, Northfield Lane, Upper Poppleton, York. Phone 01904 785458.
Simon visited on Saturday, July 19