Tutto Matto – NOW CLOSEDI had slightly mixed feelings about the arrival of Tutto Matto. It took over a stock pre-theatre Italian, Ti Amo, which definitely had some room to be improved upon, but given it’s a pizza place from the folks behind Pinto, which has become a rather middling Mexican, I wasn’t sure quite how things would turn out. I gave it a try on a quiet Monday in December.
As many have said in their reviews, the interior initially looks quite small, but it extends way back. Indeed, I was seated at the furthest extremity of the rear dining room. It brought to mind the recent Channel Four show about the “golden seat” in restaurants. By that scale, I was seated in the shit-splattered cludgie.
The place is kitted out in the latest generic burger restaurant cage and wood fashion. The combination of sriracha and Cholula hot sauce on the table spoke of the kind of identity crisis that’s expanded upon across their broad and confusing menu.
They have a beer list to match their “pizzas of the world” which packs in a selection of the worst beers from the nations involved. I decided to match a Mythos lager (ghastly) with a Santorini which offered “barrel-aged feta” as its main Greek component.
I started with some “chunky” chilli jam and goat’s cheese bruschetta. It tasted bloody awful with the jam smooth and packing little or no chilli kick. The bread was also of poor quality.
The pizza to follow was every bit as disappointing. The topping was nondescript with the barrel-aged feta tasting very much liked feta that hadn’t spent any time in a barrel. The base was like a biscuit: neither thin enough to be satisfyingly crisp; nor light enough to be enjoyably pillowy. It was at the type of quality you’d expect from cooking something frozen in the home oven. I left half of it uneaten; it was that pish.
It was at this point that one of the chefs, Tony, came out from the kitchen, ostensibly to greet the table of people who had arrived next to me. He came over to say hi and asked how things were. There seemed little point in not giving him a frank assessment.
He listened and responded well, suggesting that I should give the place a second try during which he would prepare things directly to my specifications. I should then return once more and try things at my own speed, then reach a verdict.
So overall, on this first of three visits I had a very poor time, but I agreed that I would come back for two more tries…
On the second visit, I opted for one of their more conventional Italian pizza offerings with a quattro formaggi. This brought together gorgonzola, Fior de Latte mozzarella, grana padano and ricotta. It was lunchtime so I stuck to the water rather than sampling more of their dreadful beer selection.
Chef Tony delivered the dish and chided me for not asking for him by name when ordering.
This was a more assured effort with a light crust and base that folded nicely. The topping was suitably cheesy. It was similar although not to the same high quality standard to the quattro formaggi from Dough. I enjoyed all of it and passed on my thanks to chef Tony.
On my third visit, I brought MJ along to offer her perspective. She is a cheese eschewer so always has her pizzas senza formaggio which is often a good challenge to present to a restaurant. Interestingly, we were seated in the “golden” window seat, but that’s because no-one would ever make the mistake of seating MJ anywhere near the shit-throne.
She sampled the Texas pizza which brought together barbecue sauce, caramelized onion, sweetcorn and smoked chicken. Her verdict – “it was fine”. I had the Liguria and fine just about summed it up, too. I did ask for Tony in advance this time, so he made the bases a little thinner and crisper, to my preference.
So overall, our scoring system doesn’t really work to accurately rate Tutto Matto, so I’m not even going to try to come up with a vague approximation. At its best, it is fine; perfectly acceptable; at its worst it is God-awful. Its strength is the affability and charm of Tony; its weakness is…well, the food. The bottom line is that Ti Amo was a much more reliable and fitting pre-theatre place than this modish, inconsistent offering. Go and give it a go, by all means, but prepare to be severely underwhelmed.
We ate: jam and cheese bruschetta, Santorini pizza; quattro formaggi pizza; Texas pizza, Liguria pizza
We drank: Mythos lager; water; water
We wore: blue shirt; pinstripes; brown jacket, Wellington boots
Total bill: £17.50; £7; £11.90
Address: 16 Nicolson Street, Old Town, Edinburgh EH8 9DH