If you have ever been lucky enough to visit Italy you will be well aware of the charming taverns which line the cobbled streets and serve mouth watering pizza, pasta, small plates and wine.
Now Belfast has it’s very own Italian treasure La Taverna at Frateilli. We were lucky to be invited to spend the evening at the newest Italian in town and honestly we planned a quick, quiet dinner, but the hospitality was so good, we stayed all night!
Welcomed by a friendly member of staff in Frateilli we were escorted to the top floor restaurant La Taverna, where we were greeted with a charming space, exposed brick work and a statement bar, the kitchen was also in full view.
We chose a little table by the window, where we could enjoy the terrace views without the wind, on what was a particularly cool summer evening.
La Taverna Manager Rebecca Robb welcomed us and showcased the notable wine list, now if you like a really good wine then I would recommend a visit for the wine alone!
Drinks ordered and it was time to digest the menu. Now I am a lover of small food and with small food I mean small plates, tapas, anything that you can nibble on over a nice bottle of vino; I am in!
I was automatically drawn to the Venetian small plates where we chose 3 dishes to share:
I am not a lover of fish, but my tasting partner for the evening is, and so this was as far as I was going. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed, the batter was light and the fish was tasty.
I have experienced bad, chewy Calamari in a restaurant abroad once and it put me off, but this delicious fish and the accompanying paprika mayo has won back my taste buds.
Cheese lover alert, if it is on the menu I will always order cheese, I am not fussy either, I just adore all sorts of cheese and Buffalo Mozzarella is so versatile you can’t go wrong.
We were served what I can only describe as ‘pearl on the table’ with mouth watering, marinated tomatoes to accompany the beautiful elastic texture of the cheese – we may have argued over the last piece!
Where do I start, I am not a fan of butter nut squash, in fact I recall choking trying to cook and feed it when introducing first tastes to my little ones, but I adore bruschetta and so we gave it a go.
Oh my words cannot describe this dish. The bread was fresh and crisp, the mixture of squash with the goat’s cheese was delightful.
So we have had a serious amount of food, but we couldn’t visit La Taverna at Fratelli and not try their chef signature dish – Padella (Baked sharing pans for 2) – we choose Saffron Risotto, Chicken, Chorizo, Red Pepper, Fine Bean & Cilli Oil
The pictures speak for themselves. As this beautiful dish was presented to us, we were also met by the most wonderful smell of fresh food, coupled with spices and a hint of chilli. I could compare this to Spanish paella but that would be in insult!
The Saffron Risotto offered just the right combination of rice to meat and delightful flavours to keep you going back for more. Half way through and we were beat – this really is a sharing dish, but maybe our eyes were bigger than our bellies, and I really wanted a cheese board, so we took the leftovers home for lunch on Thursday!
To finish our evening, we ordered coffee and a cheese board, but my dinner date couldn’t possibly have any more food!
While we waited we ventured out onto the Terrence where I had watched 2 large groups sit and enjoy great food, wine and soak up the warm and welcoming atmosphere all evening; honestly if you didn’t know better you could have been in Florence, until a lovely local shouted could you take a photo for me ‘love’, of which I did of course and even throw in a bit of Belfast banter, just for fun.
Ok, ok so the cheese board was perfectly portioned, I don’t know if I could have shared it with anyone though! 4 beautifully presented cheeses, accompanied by crisp but chewy, nutty breads, grapes and chutney – this was the perfect end to a beautiful meal and wonderful evening.
La Taverna is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm and we would highly recommend a visit. The Sugah Gals will be returning very soon to try more of the menu and that beautiful terrace.