Trattoria Rustica, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘One of Norwich’s finest’
Did we enjoy a taste of Italy in the heart of Norwich?
There is a massive range of starters and mains which go way beyond the usual pizza and pasta dishes - calf liver anyone?
My starter is Insalata Caprese, a simple dish but with the quality Italian staples of basil, tomato and mozzarella with foccacia soaked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Bruschetta Rustica similarly has those fresh Italian ingredients which punch the taste buds. Both are excellent.
For mains we have a pizza and a creamy pasta fish dish.
The pasta dish – Spaghetti Bella Napoli - comes with small mussels and large prawns, on a big rectangular plate, sprinkled with fresh tomatoes. The first few mouthfuls are delicious, but by the end the rich cream and oil is perhaps too much. The pasta is cooked perfectly.
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The pizza crust is the ideal thickness, striking that difficult balance between too crispy and too soft. It is topped with pepperoni, and has an authentic Italian taste (although a little too much oil has been drizzled on top of it).
For desert we go for the tiramisu, a litmus test of a good Italian restaurant, in my view.
Although slightly more coffee could have been added, it gets top marks for presentation. The chocolate is well-balanced with the cream and mascarpone mixture.
Inside, Trattoria Rustica is how you would expect it to be from the outside. Cosy, with timber frames, checked table clothes and photos of scenes from Italian tavernas.
Diners are packed in on wooden tables bringing a welcoming Tuscan vibe to Tombland.
It adds up to a very warm impression and the food smells delicious.
The wine list is limited if you're buying by the glass with just three reds, three whites and three different Roses available, but they are of excellent quality. There is a much larger choice if you want a whole bottle instead.
We had a white wine, the Frascati Superiore which lived up to its name.
The beer choice is what you would expect in an Italian restaurant - Peroni and Moretti served by the bottle, as well as San Miguel, Corona and Hoegaarden. There are also aperitifs and Italian cocktails. Sparkling wine and champagne can be bought by the bottle.
Fast, efficient and friendly, as you would expect from a well-established family restaurant. A couple near us had a problem with their dish which was quickly replaced.
The men's could do with a lick of a paint. Unable to comment on the ladies.
We walked, but drivers would be faced with usual issues of parking in Norwich city centre. The nearest car parks are Castle Mall or St Andrews, and then a walk, but lots of buses go through nearby Tombland.
Tucked away on beautiful Princes Street, Elm Hill's cobbled cousin, just off Tombland.
The pizzas are a bit pricier than other pizzerias and restaurants in Norwich but overall, the prices for mains are reasonable. The drinks are what you would expect to pay for a city centre restaurant - £4.50 for a beer, £3 for a soft drink and small glasses of wine start at £5.
The simple, delicious starters were the best bit of the meal. They use the basic Italian ingredients to maximum effect.
If you judge a restaurant by its longevity then this is one of Norwich's finest. It's been run by the same family for 20 years.
Trattoria Rustica is exactly what you would expect from the outside. It is hearty Italian food, with good-sized portions, served in cosy surroundings.
This is an independent review.
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