I have to admit, I was not expecting Little Italy to be a culinary success. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; it is definitely hard not to with Little Italy. It’s faux-Italian exterior, garishly bright sign and shameless advertising on Market Street did not bode well. It looks like your classic Italian-British cliché restaurant, the kind you’re more likely find in Lady and the Tramp than in Tuscany. After hearing tales of dodgy frozen cheesecakes, I was even less inclined to go.
However, every time I wandered past, it was not just busy, but ram-packed with crowds of people sat enjoying bowls of pasta and glasses of red wine on checked tablecloths. It was only when a couple of friends of mine suggested we try it, did I dare to go in. We tried to book a table at 7pm, there was no space until 8.30pm; its popularity seemed promisingly. We arrived to find our table was not ready yet, but the manager seemed concerned about making us wait, and quickly had us seated in a cosy corner.
Now, plastic menus are bad. Even worse are plastic menus with sun-tinged photographs of the food inside them. Luckily, Little Italy had steered away from photographing their meals and stuck with writing the name of the old favourites on the menu instead, including calzone, spaghetti carbonara and cannelloni.
I pointed to the Pizza Favorita, which strongly resembled Pizza Express’ Padana with its spinach/goat’s cheese/caramelised onion combination. And it was surprisingly delicious. There was no skimping on the toppings, unlike Pizza Express, who have a tendency to be overly frugal with their mozzarella. Melted strips of goat’s cheese and dark purple onions were laden onto the thin doughy base with scatterings of spinach leaves across the top. The centre of the pizza did droop slightly as I sliced into it, but I put this down to the abundance of toppings as opposed to a soft base. My friend’s cannelloni arrived, wrapped in cheese and bubbling away in its terracotta dish, just as it should be.
Whilst we did get a slightly condescending stare when we all ordered tap water, rather than the house red like the rest of the restaurant, the service was noticeably speedy. We even left a tip, the generous students that we are, making Little Italy one I would recommend. Yes, the prices were a little above your average student deal, with pizza averaging at about £10, it was certainly worth the extra cash.
I came away, not only full, but pleasantly surprised to have found a decent meal beneath Little Italys’s tacky exterior.
Little Italy, 2 Logies Lane, St Andrews (01334 479299)
Eat here if… you are looking for a good pizza, glass of wine and a lively atmosphere!
Avoid if… you don’t want to embarrass your date by taking them to the most cliché restaurant in town.