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La Riva
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La Riva
43 Assembly St,,
0131 477 2222
Sun-Thurs 12 noon - 11pm; Fri & Sat 12 noon - 12pm

Recently opened La Riva Pizzeria in Leith is slightly off the beaten track, but well worth discovering.

Tucked down a side street close to Leith’s popular Shore area, the name means, appropriately, ‘The Shore’. On arrival, we were escorted through a bar area before passing the busy chefs in an open kitchen and heading through to the restaurant – a pleasant, light and airy space.

The wine list is expansive with many lovely Italian options, and there are also very reasonably priced cocktails, but we went for beer: a Birra Moretti Siciliana for me, and a pint of local brewery Pilot’s Vienna Pale for my date.

Most of the starters are more like generous sharing platters, served with breadsticks and salad. Feeling indulgent, we went for the Tagliere Salumi e Formaggi, a combination of cured meats and Italian cheeses, AND the Grilled King Prawns. The cheeses and meats comprised a good varied selection, while the king prawns were enormous, fresh and delicious.

We were slightly concerned we wouldn’t have space for all the pizza we had planned to eat. Luckily, the friendly waiter intuitively understood our predicament and suggested a short break.

The pizza and pasta options are interesting and diverse, split into ‘traditional’ and ‘gourmet’, with plenty of options for vegetarians and those with a gluten intolerance (although the gluten-free bases were not recommended for coeliacs due to traces of wheat flour in the kitchen). All pizzas are offered ‘calzone’ style if desired or diners can choose an intriguing ‘gourmet pizza burger’ with chips.

We opted for a simple Prosciutto e Funghi to test out the flavours in the promised stone ground flour pizza base and premium mozzarella fiordilatte, along with something more interesting, the ‘Hellboy’, with pepperoni, nduja and fresh chilli. I can testify that the stone ground flour certainly contributes to a thin and flavourful base, which was soft but didn’t disintegrate into a soggy mess when a slice was lifted. Perfect texture and flavour – this pizza snob was very happy.

Could we possibly manage dessert after all that, you ask? Although tempted by the ‘light and dark’ profiteroles, we concluded by sharing a really excellent tiramisu, and had a very gentle stroll home.

The excellent pizza and friendly staff will definitely bring me back to this hidden gem, and if you can make it on a week day lunchtime, a whole pizza or pasta and a soft drink can be enjoyed for the ludicrous price of £5.95. (D Spencer) 

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