Pasta & Primitivo at La Partenope (Cucina Napoletana, Dalry Road)

I’ve been meaning to try La Partenope for the past few years as it’s been recommended to me countless times and there’s really no excuse as I walk past it every day. Tuesdays are my least favourite day (they’re a bit like February if you know what I mean?!) but, as usual Strawberry Blonde was my willing accomplice for a last-minute, impromptu sortie.

Situated opposite (the rather good) First Coast restaurant on Dalry Road, La Partenope is billed as being Edinburgh’s only authentic Neapolitan restaurant. In fact even the name derives from an important Neapolitan icon, Parthenope, a Greek maiden who fell in love with Ulysses but was spurned and swam ashore in the Bay of Naples and died of a broken heart! (little known fact taken from the menu!)

Inside, the lighting’s low, brickwork and wood are brightened by white walls, black & white Italian photography, linen tablecloths and gleaming wine glasses, the central focus is the bar/kitchen area affording the staff a perfect view of the tables all around.

Whilst waiting for SB to arrive I made myself very comfortable in the soft seating area to peruse the wine list, spotting a Primitivo (regular Eating Edinburgh readers will know this is a favourite of mine) I felt no need to wait for SB to order! Interestingly the waiter both poured and swirled a taste for me, clearly not taking any chances on me knowing how to sample a wine properly!

a cheeky Primitivo

A wide range of starters and appetisers are on offer ranging in price from £1.80-£9.95 and the main courses £8.00-£19.95, along with a range of specials and sides. They also offer a Pre-Theatre menu. Neither SB or I were particularly hungry but we were soon picking out fabulous sounding dish after dish, including seafood and mixed grill platters! Excitement aside we decided that maybe we should stick to pasta as the ultimate test for a good Italian.

I went for the Carbonara and SB the Pasta Fresca, (Spinach & Ricotta that night). We also went for Garlic bread and Provola Dei Poveri, enticingly described thus “This is the most delicious way to eat this cheese from Naples! Especially for those who love cheese” why wouldn’t you want to try it?!

A little starting plate of utter deliciousness

Both the garlic bread, (big doorstops of bread thoroughly laden with garlic butter) and the Provola Dei Poveri, (smoked mozzarella, slow roasted with cherry tomatoes and a garlic, oregano sauce) were winners, definitely something I’ll be recreating at home in the not too distant future!

On to the mains, my Carbonara was excellent, one of the best I’ve had in a VERY long time, whilst SB’s Pasta Fresca was very nice, it was also very subtle and for a main course portion it could have done with a lift both in seasoning and perhaps texture. On asking for some salt the waiter was entertainingly ‘disgusted’ by our request with that Latin insouciance that I know so well, having dated an Italian Chef myself! (Once added, however it lifted the dish enormously regardless of what he thought!)

I've 'carbed'it & gone to heaven

It was cosy and warm, we were sated, not to mention barely able to move after the Herculean pasta assault on our constitutions. Not quite ready to leave this lovely little haven we ordered some more vino (it would have been rude not to) and coffee before making our merry and contented ways home.

To summarise, would I go back? definitely!  Although next time I’d make sure I was absolutely ravenous and could do the mixed grill dish justice! The bathrooms were surprising good too, hand cream and paper towels always a winner for us!

La Partenope, 96 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2AX. 0131 347 8880

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