Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- La Concha, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The Location
La Concha Stockbridge residents and regular visitors may have seen an occasional change of name to this intimate, little restaurant space at 24 Deanhaugh Street in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh. Many years ago it was called Passpartout, then Rendezvous and more recently Loopy Lorna's, each with a different style of cuisine. Now new faces, fresh décor and a new name has arrived for summer 2005.

The Restaurant
La Concha
La Concha - Spanish for a seashell or scallop - is in fact a classic Italian restaurant. The old banquette seating and booths have been ripped out and contemporary polished wood tables and chairs, sanded floor, whitewashed walls with a few colourful pictures and a fireplace all create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Chef Ricardo Morana has worked in a couple of other Italian restaurants in the city for many years and now has the experience to run his own restaurant. It's a family double act, as Ricardo is ably assisted by his wife Angela both in the kitchen and front of house. There is a maximum of 18 covers so that Ricardo can enjoy producing high quality cuisine for a finite number of diners.

The Food
The fairly short dinner menu is nonetheless comprehensive and varied based on traditional home-style Italian country cooking but with a certain upmarket culinary style. Prices are reasonable. A sensible idea is to offer some good Italian snacks as an antipasti: a bowl of marinated olives and crostini, toasted ciabatta bread with olive oil, tomato, pesto and other toppings. This will keep you going until the Primi course arrives. This could be fresh asparagus baked with Gorgonzola cheese, cozze naturale - mussels in a white wine and lemon juice, or arrincini, rice balls stuffed with cheese.

Main courses offer something for everyone: Entrecote alla Griglia - Scotch beef sirloin Italian style, served with herb and garlic roulade, potato fritters and a green salad. Alternatively fresh fish of the day, perhaps fillet of seas bass with basil and pine nuts in a dry Marsala wine and butter sauce. And of course there is pasta but freshly prepared such as Penette Carbonara, penne served with pancetta, cream, egg yolk and parmesan cheese and Risotto Mare, stuffed with a selection of seafood and herbs. You can tell by the fresh taste, fish and pasta cooked to perfection with delicate seasoning and good presentation, that each dish is cooked carefully to order. With a dozen or so diners on this particular evening, Angela can ensure everyone is well looked after. The Dolci course is given special attention with a daily selection of classic home made Italian desserts such as tarts, gateaux and cheesecake.

The Bill
See for current menu and prices.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, noon - 2.30pm and 6 - 10pm. Sunday 11am - 10pm. Closed Monday.

The proof is certainly in the pudding. Expect simple, classic, quality Italian dishes - fish, seafood, chicken, steak, pasta, risotto, vegetarian, - prepared with pizzazz and passion. This may be Ricardo and Angela's first venture into running a restaurant but they are certainly experienced in the art of cooking and hospitality. A welcome smile, an appetising menu, cosy atmosphere and fine Italian dining experience at a fair price. What more do you want?

Vivien Devlin ©

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