After an impressive meal at Ostara Dei Sapori recently and now one at East Coast in Musselburgh I am beginning to wonder if the best Italian restaurants are to be found off the beaten track.
East Coast has all the ingredients of a good Italian restaurant; it’s family-friendly, has a focus on fish and shellfish and an Italian heritage that is to be found in cafes and eateries around Scotland.
Musselburgh high street is gray on the Sunday afternoon we visit but East Coast restaurant is welcoming, and we instantly relax and admire the neutral tones and stylish décor. There is a takeaway next door which was the well-kent Coral Reef until the present owners Carol and Katia began a new history with East Coast. The Coral Reef chippie had been there since 1974 and Carlo remembers helping in the family business as a child, standing on a bag of tatties to reach the cash register.
A Seaside Negroni is effortlessly mixed and so good that I know a second would spoil the effect. I sip the last of it with my starter of Pan-Fried King Prawns bathed in garlic, fresh chilli, lemon, parsley, extra virgin olive oil. Mr Bite chooses Italian Sausage on Sourdough with mushroom, white wine and jus which is an earthy, warm, and spicy dish. Sourdough threads through the menu, as do truffles, garlic, chilli and saffron (there are heavenly scents in East Coast).
We reckon correctly that the Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham with Saffron Risotto and Panciotti (Scallop & prawn filled pasta, fresh tomato sauce, garlic, white wine, chilli & herbs) will be excellent choices but really, we could stick a pin in the menu and be happy. Pasta and piscine combos abound but there is also Parmigiana, Caesar Salad and of course fish ‘n’ chips.
The latter seems popular with fellow diners, while our pasta and risotto with fish are both finely executed and deeply satisfying. We order one Tiramisu and two spoons. It is an opportunity for Mr. Bite to point out that Ado Campeol who invented the coffee-drenched dessert died recently. Tiramisu means “lift me up” and apparently it was an accidental dessert that energised his wife when she was pregnant. It got me thinking that I would like to see a Zabaglione on the menu at East Coast – I know it wouldn’t disappoint.
A swift macchiato and we are on our way, but I hope there is an opportunity for a return visit to the ‘Honest Toun’ soon and to East Coast. (S. Wilson)