Saturday 8th April, 2017 – La Strada Nuovo, Towcester
There seem to be ever more eating options around our home town that fit in the “Saturday night dinner out without booking three years in advance and taking out a mortgage” bracket, and La Strada Nuovo now squarely fits that bill, after a rocky handful of years under various “chefs”, some better than others, some with more clue than others. The previous incumbents seemed to be unable to decide if they were aiming at fine dining or rustic peasant food, and the results were uneven to say the least.
The new team now seem to be firmly in control and have clearly decided that actually solid Italian regional cooking is where they need to go. Granted it’s almost all regions of Italy, but that should not stand in the way of a restaurant in the UK, as most diners will either not know or not care. They just want a good dinner.
And we were pleasantly surprised by the dinner we got, after we fetched up one Saturday evening without a reservation to find the place about two thirds full and buzzing at around 7 pm.
A bottle of prosecco was rapidly forthcoming, and we drank it while we studied the menu.
We decided to share an antipasto platter, which was huge! There was more than enough for two and I think it could have served three easily (though there might have had to be some judicious cutting up of items to break them into three portions). The anchovies in particular were good, as was the cheese, so it would make a good choice of starter.
For mains we ordered an osso bucco, which was a lovely plate of comfort food, with a massive cloud of nicely mashed potatoes, and a big, sticky pile of meaty beef. Very good indeed, and also very big indeed (I do wish sometimes that the option to order a half portion was more common).
We also went for the sea bream, which came with a very good butter sauce, and again a pile of pureed spuds, well made, not lumpy and ideal to soak up the sauce. The mange tout were a good addition as well, and we concluded that this was good, solid cooking and we’d amost certainly have to come back again.
The wine list is short and contains mostly very affordable bottles, with just one or two that make you wince a bit. We ordered a perfectly respectable Primitivo di Manduria, a southern Italian red wine that is not especially sophisticated but packs quite a punch of fruitiness that went well with the osso bucco.
They offered dessert, but we were both far too full, so we paid up and waddled home!