Strada160-161 North Street
Tel: +44 (0)1273 202 070
Guide price: £25
Cuisine types: ITALIAN | INTERNATIONAL
You may be thinking we have enough Italian restaurants in Brighton and you could be right; Piccolo's, Pinnochio's, Picasso's - but at least this Italian restaurant's name doesn't start with the letter P!
Strada, Brighton's newest Italian restaurant, positions itself as a 'contemporary Italian restaurant serving good quality, simple, freshly prepared dishes using the finest seasonal produce available'.
A few years back my boyfriend and I visited Strada in Holborn, London. It was a dark, cold evening; we'd just finished work and were looking for a good quality, simple Italian. Having never eaten at Strada before, afterwards, we were both impressed with the menu range, prices, friendliness and speed of the service. We vowed to go back again. The next time we visited Strada was again straight after work on a dark, cold Thursday evening, but this time in Brighton - it did not disappoint.
Strada replaces Quod and sits neatly on the corner of high street North Street and theatreland that is New Road. The deep red and brown tones of interior are modern and sophisticated, yet relaxing. The furniture is simple with added touches such as linen napkins and complimentary water from glass bottles giving an impression of more than just a 'cheap Italian'. At three-quarters full it was comfortably busy with Thursday's late-night shoppers, friends and partners.
The menu consists of a wide range of pizzas, pastas, at least half a dozen main meat and fish dishes, plus an enticing looking specials menu. The wine prices are reasonable and the list includes our favourite Italian red – Montepulciano – so we were happy!
Our waiter recommended one of the Schiacciatella (like a pre-starter / appetiser), and we went for the Pesto o Pomodoro (£3.50) – basket of basil pesto and tomato pizza-like bread – and with six yummy pieces in the basket we had to be careful not to fill ourselves up.
Then it was onto the starters. From a good choice of meat, fish and vegetable dishes, I went for the Antipasto Misto (£5.95) (a range of Italian hams, salami, olives, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and ciabatta) which was delicious and transported me back to my Italian mini-break. My man went for Gamberoni (£6.95) (roasted Mediterranean butterflied king prawns in garlic, white wine, chilli, lemon parsley and olive oil) very light and fresh.
The pizzas are 'hand stretched', and they're not kidding, we're talking seriously large, yet it is pizza as it should be; thin, crispy, with generous portions of toppings. I went for Rustica with a delightful distribution of char-grilled Neapolitan farmhouse sausage, artichokes, capers, tomatoes, caramelised onions, and fresh oregano. Pizza prices ranged between £6.50 and £8.95.
The other main dish from the specials menu was Filett al pepe verde. The steak, served medium rare as requested, was accompanied with a creamy shallot and green peppercorn sauce, buttered beans, garlic, and potatoes - a well executed dish.
Typically when eating out we go without desserts, but with a choice of eight mouth-watering desserts all under £5, it would be hard to leave without trying one of them. The Pannacotta (£3.95) was perfectly formed, smooth and creamy. The Crostata di Fragole (£4.25), a strawberry, mascarpone and vanilla tart, was light and fresh.
Before I finish, I must just mention the tea cups - delicate china cups and saucers decorated with pretty flowers – perhaps a strange but delightful, sophisticated touch by Strada.
Just as Brightonians will enjoy Strada, I think Strada will enjoy Brighton. It's big enough for a friend's get-together or birthday, speedy and satisfying for our tourists, great for a bite to eat before, during or after shopping and the theatre, whilst providing us locals with a reasonably priced, tasty and friendly Italian.
April 2006Guide price £25