CRAVING a double espresso? You won’t need any caffeine if you visit this new all-day Italian cafe cum restaurant. The plink-plink-fizz of its interior will supply all the jolt you need.
40 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh
(0131-225 0386, www.quattrozero.co.uk)
Dinner for three, excluding drinks, £51.10
As well as plenty of budgie-baitingly reflective surfaces, there’s an entire wall of foodie words – gelati, cioccolato, tiramisu – rendered in relief, while, low-hanging lights with cherry, lemon and lime-coloured bulbs swing above the minty white tables, which are surrounded by glossy tangerine chairs.
Nudge-nudge, wakey-wakey, exclamation mark, this space shouts, right into your tired earhole. Which is rather refreshing, when we’re all on the squirrelly fringes of hibernation.
Quattrozero is presided over by restaurateur Giorgio Crolla, who also owns Edinburgh city-centre eateries Bar Napoli, Grand Cru and Caciopepe. He’s obviously splurged a bit of cash on this new venture. It’s not the biggest venue in town, but it’s well designed, with a log-fired pizza oven in the corner, and separate areas to suit either casual sandwich eaters or sit-down munchers.
The three of us were in the latter group, and we started out with the Quattrozero board (£15.95). It featured three snooker-ball-sized arancini: two tomatoey ones, and a cheesy porcini variety, all pleasingly starchy-sticky. There were other antipasti niblets: decent olives, nutty Parmesan sheets, nicely-seasoned and chunky polenta chips, tomato slices sprinkled with oregano and basil leaves. Then a puffball of buffalo mozzarella, chargrilled strips of courgette and discs of marinated aubergine, battered squid rings, pickled vegetables and stuffed peppers. It felt as if they’d put much more on the board than they could have reasonably gotten away with. They were spoiling us. We’re worth it.
So our only negative was that this smorgasbord was accompanied by a few slices of rather naff Sunblest-esque loaf, when it really wanted to be beside some spongy foccacia.
Pizzas are a big deal here, you can even buy them by the metre (from £22). For our main course, we tested out the del mare variety (£7.95). The yeasty base was crispy-edged, and dappled golden. Sadly, it had gone a bit soggy in the centre, but that’s the tendency of a seafood pizza. Topping-wise, this was as loaded-up as a round-the-world backpacker, with a Mr Universe competition’s worth of mussels, plus endless prawns, squiddy hoops, and an ocean of cheese. Pizza Express is just next door, and their dough balls must be quaking.
Our tagliatelle QZ (£7.95) was a nest of pasta ribbons topped by a cream, mince and ragu emulsion, with discs of spicy sausage and a flurry of powdery Parmesan. Meaty and feral, hair on the chest stuff.
From the Steak, Chicken, Burgers, Seafood section of the menu, pollo al proscuitto (£10.95) was equally decent. A flattened poultry breast was blanketed by concertina-ed ham, then by a layer of cushiony mozzarella. On the side, charred sprigs of asparagus, some roasted sliced potatoes, a puddle of tomatoey sauce, and a handful of garlic-spiked green beans. It was unremarkable, but good comfort food.
Puddings are, generally, wicked in the old-fashioned sense of the word.
I couldn’t help but go for the profiteroles, which were displayed on the bottom shelf of the glass cabinet that showcases the daily cassata della casa (£4.15 each), simply because the ratio of chocolate sauce to choux pastry was so high. They tasted a bit sickly, but not bad.
The same goes for the ricotta cheesecake (£4.15), which featured a layer of Nutella to round-up the calorie count.
The food here is unsophisticated, but I like it, in a guilty pleasure kind of way.
It’s also a family friendly place, with high-chairs and a good children’s menu at £5.50 for three courses (plus a baby-ccino).
Generally, you get a big bang for your buck. And, thanks to the jolly interior, you can save a couple of quid on post-prandial coffee.