June 18, 2012 Italian 6 Comments

MJ’s Verdict
Since both Blythe and I have been kind of busy for the past week, we decided to go out for a spot of dinner as opposed to our usual lunching. I was given a few options and decided on the Piatto Verde out by Fountain Park. As always, I was early and could scope out the place and have a wander around; and to be honest I would never have even noticed the wee Piatto Verde, should I ever have reason to wander around that part of the city…and that’s a real shame, cause it provided one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.

When we went inside, our table was reserved for us and was set with a fresh jug of water and nicely laid out. The whole place itself is a gem that reminded me entirely of the trattorias I’ve eaten in throughout Italy (which is one of my favourite places in the world, in case y’all haven’t twigged). The simple décor and tables complemented the close and friendly vibe that was perpetuated by the lovely waitress who was able to do that rare thing where she was friendly, extremely efficient and able to provide really good recommendations on the menu, recommendations that I completely believed when she told me that certain dishes were her favourites.

After asking her advice on wine (the house wine is quite tasty as she said), I decided on choosing the Cozze al Pepe Nero followed by the Siciliana which she happily was able to take out the cheese, since it’s all made from scratch.

Blythe went for his usual order of Melanzane alla parmegiana, and when our starters arrived promptly, his was exactly what I expected the dish to look like, and mine was a bowl of impressively large and fresh-looking mussels. The mussels were excellently cooked and the waitress was right, the mix of white wine sauce with garlic, cherry tomatoes and parsley and lemon blended an excellent acidity that complemented the dish nicely; so nicely, in fact, that I ordered a side of fresh bread to dip in the succulent sauce—which is not something I often do.

Cozze al Pepe Nero

The mains arrived shortly thereafter and I must first say that Blythe was in for a real treat…x 4. His baked risotto was huge and looked absolutely phenomenal, the mix of tomato and veggies was enticing, but I digress. My Siciliana was truly excellent with ample, simple ingredients-well done: aubergine, ham, peas, garlic, mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce. While I often try the pasta dishes at various places in the city, I believe that a good red sauce is the basis of an Italian restaurant, and the red sauce at Piatto Verde had the best flavour of any I’ve had. The recommendation was spot on, and I was pleased to bits with the burst of the peas against the saltiness of the bacon and the background heat of the chilli. A really well-executed plate of pasta that reminds me why I love Italian food.

Siciliana

We finished with good coffees from a lovely vintage-looking machine and our bill was brought without delay. The cost of the place was on target, right as I would expect for excellent food without the fuss.

The only real problem I see with this place is that it is not nearer to where I live, though, the next time I am in need of a good Italian fix and find myself on this side of town instead of near Domenico’s, I’ll go here, no question.

Blythe’s Verdict
My friend Julian, who has quested to L’Escargot Bleu and The Rosehip, mentioned Piatto Verde to me, many moons ago. As with most excellent pieces of advice, it has taken me months to act upon it.

Pane

After a week of planning misfortunes, it was simply fabulous to have a sense of balance and equilibrium restored to my life, with a plan that had been in place for fully three days realised in prompt elegance, by the elegantly prompt MJ.

The shop front of Piatto Verde doesn’t inspire enormous confidence that what you’ll find inside is an experience of searing gastronomic intensity. It’s playing somewhere in the realms of down-at-heel charm and shabby chic. Inside, you’re still in the realms of rustic homeliness, with child’s drawings matched with Georgian cornicing (I do seem to be talking about a great deal of cornice work, at the moment). And through all of it, it exudes a gently welcoming confidence.

And then to our waitress. What could be more perfect that an Irish waitress wearing a stylised daisy chain barking orders to the kitchen in convincing Italian? I’ll tell you what: if she pretty much makes herself an integral part of all the customers’ experience of the restaurant, that’s what. Service is as much an item of personal taste than the food, if not sometimes more so, but as far as I’m concerned her service was the very definition of exceptional, so her 5/5 was well earned.

Parmigiana di Melenzane

So, to the food. This is where our waitress earned a good portion of her corn. MJ took a recommendation on which mussels to opt for, and which pasta dish to choose, and I had a toss up between pizza or a colossal baked risotto which she neatly resolved.

Dishes arrived at the speed of light. MJ’s mussels looked incredibly good, but I was very happy with my choice. Melanzane alla parmegiana is a great favourite of mine; this was an excellent example of the dish. I was entirely content with it.

Main courses, again, were lightning fast in their arrival. MJ’s pasta looked simple, but I’m assured it was packed with flavour. My baked risotto was a colossus of a dish, only to be attempted by the hungry or foolhardy. On this occasion I was both, so it served my purposes magnificently.

Risotto al forno

It was high on flavour, blending accurately prepared rice with bacon, peas and mushrooms in a richly satisfying tomato sauce, with melty mozzarella to marry the elements together. I wolfed the lot, which was no mean feat as the portion could easily have fed…two…three…entire family?

With good espresso to round out the meal (after we’d dallied gloriously over our light glasses of house red), we were left highly content, and pondering where Piatto Verde sits within the pantheon of Italian restaurants in Edinburgh. The conclusion was that this is the only place we’ve found that bears comparison with our sainted Domenico’s. The place embodies much of the same spirit, and has similar levels of excellence.

Scores
MJ scores Piatto Verde
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
5/5 for service
giving an overall 17.5/20

Blythe scores Piatto Verde
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
5/5 for service
giving an overall 16/20

Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe

We ate: mussels, melanzane, siciliana pasta, risotto al forno

We drank: house red, water, espresso

We wore: great dress, black suit

Total bill: £43

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Written by BKR