Saturday, 21 January 2012

La Terrazza, Sheffield

Since visiting Rome (yes I am still banging on about Rome) and learning a bit about Italian food I have become a bit of a snob when it comes to Italian restaurants here in the UK.  I don't necessarily need the glitz and glamour of Nonnas or Gusto (the best ever carbonara I have had in Britain was at Zerboni Taste), but the thought of those Italian restaurants who cater primarily for the British taste-buds fills me with dread.

With this in mind, you won't be too surprised to know that I wasn't exactly jumping up and down at the prospect of going to La Terrezza (one that I had automatically lumped into this Brit-Italian category).  Now don't get me wrong, a meal out is a meal out and the lack of washing up will always please, but I was preparing myself for a pretty average meal.

La Terrezza is located on Sharrow Vale Road; on the Hunters Bar side.  We almost missed it as it looked completely different to how I expected.  The website (which is under construction) made me think that this place would be a bit tired looking.... but no.  La Terrezza's name is proudly displayed against a large gleaming black background giving it a modern look and setting it apart from any other restaurant surrounding it.

We were warmly welcomed and given the pick of the tables available.  It was a Sunday night and it was busier than I expected with enough diners to create a nice atmosphere.  As we sat down, menus were handed to us, although it was strongly suggested that we focused mainly on the specials.

We spent some time weighing up all the dishes on the menu (there are a few).  It’s pretty standard stuff; a selection of 15 or so pastas, say 10 pizzas, a few chicken dishes and some steaks including the obligatory steak Diana.  The specials board offers a fresher approach and includes about 5 starters and 5 mains, the majority of which are fish dishes.  I had just about made my choice, when Mario (the owner) came to take our orders.  I asked for recommendations and we altered a couple of our choices under his guidance. 

To start I had Mozzarella in Carrozza (£6.95); a speciality from Campania, the region Mario hails from.  Described as mozzarella sandwiched in the restaurant’s homemade bread, deep fried and served with a salad, I was happy when the dish was served with a tomato sauce rather than a salad.  The balls of mozzarella, although deep fried, were light and free of grease and the crispy breaded outer gave way to melting mozzarella which oozed gently into the warm tomato sauce.

Gav looked to the specials board for his starter and picked the herring (£6.80).  A whole herring came with a herb crust, a fresh salad, bread and some more of the tomato sauce.  The herring was well cooked; beautifully moist and tasty and Gav also enjoyed the salad which was dressed simply in olive oil with salt and pepper. 

By this point my earlier reservations began to wane and I was looking forward to my main of tilapia (£12.50).  The whole fish came with a pepperanta; a fresh pepper and tomato sauce.  It was gorgeous.  The fish was, once again, perfectly cooked and the sauce had a tasty kick of cayenne.  Having said that, it didn’t overpower the fish which was well flavoured after being cooked with a fat slice of lemon within its cavity.  There was salad and a side of veg too, so there was no chance of me going hungry. 

Although La Terrezza is clearly all about the fish dishes (all sourced from H Boldock in Woodseats by the way), there are a number of steaks on the menu and Gav plumped for the filetto boscaila (£17.50) which was a fillet served with a mushroom sauce.  It was a sizeable steak cooked to Gav’s specification; rare.  Beautifully tender, this was melt in the mouth stuff… and it had good flavouring.  So after years of choosing a rib eye over a fillet due to is lack of flavour, this steak has caused me to question my steak preferences. 

Unfortunately it also left me exceptionally jealous.  Yes, my fish was good, but oh my god, as a real meat lover the fact that Gav had that huge hunk of cow to himself killed me.  Thankfully, he didn’t mind me stealing the odd bit!

Despite being fit to bursting by this stage, we went for desserts.  Keeping to the Italian theme I had the tiramisu which was perfectly formed.  However I really was quite full and I couldn’t finish it. 

Gav had the banoffee pie, despite its lack of Italian heritage.  Italian or not, it was homemade and gorgeous.  From the tasty biscuit base to the luxurious creamy topping, Gav loved it.

We rounded off the meal with a digestif of limoncello served in an ice cold glass and took some time to reflect on the meal.  We had both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Ok, there’s nothing ground breaking going on here; but with good ingredients, simple cooking techniques and friendly, efficient service, La Terrezza is a no brainer, especially for fish lovers.

I would happily return to La Terrazza for more!