Sunday, July 13, 2008


Fri 11 July 2008

Last week's poor weather caused problems for Friday's lunch. Everywhere was just too far away from the office for anyone to be bothered. And this caused problems for me because I had no lunch. So I solved the problem by suggesting @Larocca (yes, it has the '@' in its name ... not sure what it's for ...), the recently opened Italian restaurant and bar in Clarence Dock.

It's a very large, shiny restaurant, with very contemporary furnishings and a very large bar. It's very red and brown inside. So it's not really surprising that the menu is ... very long.

Fortunately, for those of us on lunch breaks, the restaurant also offers a £10.95 cut down lunch menu, which will get you two courses and a coffee. For my starter I chose the bresaola carpaccio with a Balsamic vinegar sauce. My companions both chose the very scary sounding deep fried, crumbed mozzarella with garlic mayonnaise. It wouldn't have been my first choice, and they both started to look a little defeated as they ploughed their way through large (and rapidly cooling) pieces of fried mozzarella. First course roundly won by me!

Main course wise, I chose the pork tenderloin in basil and tomato sauce. It was served with some slightly odd mashed potato and a side of tagliatelle with a basil and tomato sauce. The pasta was definitely the star of this show. The portion was quite small, and the glue-like mash just didn't work at all - especially not with pasta too. However, the pasta was cooked almost perfectly, with a good bite to it, and the tomato sauce (which I assume was the same on both meat and pasta) tasted completely different: very fresh and light.

The other dish chosen was a Capricciosa pizza: ham, mushroom, mozzarella and tomato. This was the definite star of the main courses and the verdict was that it was better than the pizzas at brb. High praise indeed.

Overall, on the food front, I am a little undecided. Putting some bresaola on a plate and dressing it is not rocket science, and my main course was not that smart. But then, if the pizza is good the kitchen should be producing good food ...

We rounded off our meal with our coffees - and, while my espresso was good, it was the caffè latte looked most impressive - because it actually had a generous amount of milk in it!

The service was OK - it was certainly prompt and polite, but I noticed that a larger table near us had a few issues with its orders, which makes me wonder how things would go on a busy Saturday evening. I really rated the cloth napkins but I do think they should do away with the comedy oversized pepper mills and the music policy should be revisited.

Normally I come away from restaurants with a quite decided opinion. In the case of @Larocca, I'm going to sit on the fence. I'll be going back for an evening visit to see how the wider menu performs. I'm hoping that the kitchen and service is just taking a while to bed down and that my next visit will demonstrate some consistency.

1. @Larocca, 5 - 6 Armouries Drive, The Anchorage, Leeds, LS10 1LE, phone: 0113 2346000

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