La Salute – Italian – Nottingham – Review by Sarah
Review by Sarah McDonald
Thursday 6:30pm, and there are five customers in La Salute, including me and my partner. And still, someone has to be beckoned by the chef to seat us. It’s not a winning start. The last time I was in the building, it was the appalling meat and sweat fest of Liberty’s, so it’s conversion into a light mock trattoria is a definite improvement, and the sizeable pizza oven and kitchen are open for viewing.
The menu is a monstrosity. Four densely typed columns of dishes which make the heart sink (broccoli on pizza? “Seafood served in silver foil”?) could easily be condensed down. My partner asked about the type of fish in the blackboard special “Ravioli fish” and this confused the waiter, who then went to the kitchen for a two minute debate with the chef. Being sensible, my partner had opted for the penne romantica (£8.95) by the time the waiter returned, while I stuck to my pizza mission (more reviews to follow) and ordered the Napoli (£8.25). We asked for a mixed salad and olives (£3.95 and £3.45). The olives had the unmistakeable uniform size and tang of brine of mass bottled fruits, topped with dried out herbs and a straight sprinkle of chilli powder. Not good, and my mood was darkening with every further minute of the terrible background music and the observation of packs of dried pasta being displayed like trophies on the wall, next to a photo of Sophia Loren.
However, things vastly improved with the arrival of the main courses. The penne romantica had a smoky aubergine tang and a good balance of pasts to sauce and vegetables. The mixed salad was one of those awful bowls of raw onion, iceberg and grated carrot, but it was fresh. The undoubted highlight was the pizza, which was pretty fantastic.
The dough was not crispy, but managed the feat of being thin and light and yet pillowy and welcoming. The tomato sauce was excellent, tangy and vibrant – just look at the colour. The topping was very generous, and this resulted in the pizza being just too salty. The olives were still straight from the jar, yet the capers were squishy piquant bubbles rather than supermarket bullets and the anchovies had broken up to give a fishy depth to the whole dish. The pizza was big, no doubt about it, which is something I will never complain about, and it all went.
Drinks are expensive and limited, and this is not a restaurant for atmosphere or a lengthy drink and food fest. One of my restaurant heuristics is to limit my choice to simpler and simpler items the longer the menu, and if you apply that here, you will get on just fine.
Pizza rating = 8.5/10
Food rating overall = 7/10 (mains very good but side dishes should be shown more respect)
Service = 5/10
Value = 6/10