Today is the Italian National Day so there’s no better day to write about Italian food!
Last week I was invited along to Fratelli in Belfast (Great Victoria Street) to try out their new offering, La Taverna.
La Taverna, situated upstairs in Fratelli, is an elegant bar (with all-Italian wines) and a menu which consists of small, sharing-size dishes known as cicchetti (similar idea to Spanish tapas.)
Last Friday happened to be the warmest day of the year so it was perfect for Barry and I to sit out on the terrace and enjoy the 26° heat! (Now we really did feel like we were in Italy!)
The La Taverna menu is broken down into sections, including Piadina (filled Italian flatbreads), verdure al forno (baked vegetables) and cicchetti fritti (fried sharing plates).
We decided to go for one dish from each section, as we felt that this was a good mix and would give us a broad sense of all the different styles of cicchetti.
Out of a possible three dishes from each section, we selected;
Piadina: Prosciutto crudo with provolone, tomato, pesto and rocket
Stromboli: Pancetta, wild mushrooms and grated truffle
Verdure al forno (baked vegetables): Fine bean, tenderstem, shallot, pancetta
Cicchetti fritti (fried): Spiced chicken breast with salsa rossa
Cicchetti al forno (baked): Venetian-style seafood gratin
Cicchetti freddi (chilled): Buffalo Mozzarella, marinated tomato and basil
Verdure Fritte: Parmesan fries with truffle mayo
For me the Piadina was my favourite- it’s similar to pizza but traditionally thinner and crispier, and eaten more like a sandwich/wrap.
The Stromboli, again, has the style of pizza but is long, thin and rolled, with the ‘toppings’ inside. While I enjoyed all the dishes, I also particularly liked the spiced chicken breast (perhaps it could be a little bit spicier?)
I loved the mix of cold and hot, baked and fried, meat and vegetarian dishes and would recommend covering each of the menu’s sections! The sizes were great for sharing and accompanied the drinks well, mine the locally-made Jawbox gin.
Once we had finished our dinner and were ready to hit the road, we spoke to the manager who recommended the cheeseboard to us. Now I was pretty full but anything with cheese gets my vote, so of course we had to try it!
The cheeseboard consisted of four different types of cheeses- gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina and taleggio- served with cracker breads, grapes, and Prosecco and chilli relish. I’m so glad we tried it and was a lovely way to finish.