The arrival of Italian restaurant Nero a Meta, from the team behind Edinburgh's Locanda de Gusti, is the most exciting thing to happen in Slateford for ages, says Gaby Soutar

Nothing much happens in EH11.

The last events to rock this neighbourhood were when the bat walk in Harrison Park was cancelled due to high winds, the recycling bins were relocated and the time that Margiotta’s upgraded their fridges.

Also, every spring, the ducks get a bit hormonal, strut off, and have to be herded back to the canal so they don’t get pâté-d on the road.

I know this, because I live in this relatively quiet and residential neck of the woods. What excitement, then, when this restaurant appeared at the end of my street.

Opposite the red brick and yeastily wafting Caledonian Brewery, it’s in a corner slot that’s housed various half-baked business attempts.

Now it’s been taken over by Rosario Sartore of the ever popular Locanda de Gusti, Pizza 1826 and the new deli Fiocchi Di Neve, all nearby-ish on Dalry Road.

Alongside chefs Lorenzo Nicolini from Lombardy and Giuseppe Magrone from Puglia, he’s created a menu influenced by northern and southern Italian food.

When you enter, all the staff on shift will probably filter out to stand to attention. Or, at least, they did when we visited. “Bongiorno!”.

I felt like I should shake everyone’s hand and ask what they do, before making some insensitive gaff, royal family style. Instead, I blushed as red as a pomodoro, and headed straight to our table.

Lunch started on a high, thanks to a gratis blob of fluffy salmon pâté and shards of Sardinian flatbread, which was so fine it could probably give you a paper cut.

Then there were three top notch starters.

The pair of involtini (£7.95) was a dream, with a smooth paste of creamed potato and nibs of fennel infused pork sausage stuffed into veiny cabbage bolsters drizzled with a pecorino cheese fondue.

We also loved the cloud of creamy-middled burrata (£8.95). It came with a “baked potato timbale” that turned out to be a golden rosti sprinkled with an inky crumb made from sea salt and dried black olives.

There was also the cinghiale (£8.95) – sheets of salty Sardinian wild boar, along with strips of oyster mushroom, golden spots of olive oil, grana padano shavings, radish petals and sprigs of cress.

Wonderful.

Mains are slightly less thrilling, though we enjoyed their signature lasagne Nero a Meta (£12.95) which was about as far from Garfield-style lasagne bolognese as you can get.

Along with a few crisped up Pringle-sized pasta discs, there was a layer of speckled green bechamel blended with friarielli (Neapolitan bitter broccoli), a reappearance of those buff-coloured mushrooms, a few globs of smoky provolone cheese and frilly trimmings of crispy kale.

As another relatively light option, the fan-shaped ravioli that are casonsei (£12.95) were slightly cold in parts, though meatily sweet and filled with a finely pulped blend of mince, Parmigiano, sultanas and amaretti biscuits, all baptised with melted butter and sage.

If that doesn’t scratch your comfort food itch, we were all mad about the orecchiette (£13.95).

Forget the milkshakes, it’s THIS that would bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard. It featured these elfin pasta lugs in an amazingly rich, tomatoey and beefy blood red ragu, which was packed with clods of ultra savoury stewed shin.

There isn’t a dessert list yet. Apparently, it’s in the pipeline along with the pizza oven.

The waiter said they could do a Nutella shortcake tart (£4.95) or a pistachio, orange zest and mascarpone mousse (£4.95).

Yes and yes.

Our triangle of cocoa-dusted tart was a bit tricky to tackle, since cutting through the tightly packed base meant that a bit would inevitably ping off like a tiddly-wink.

Still, it tasted decent, though everyone seemed to prefer the pale green and nut dusted frothy mousse.

At last, a good restaurant in my stomping ground which, since my visit, always has its windows steamed up from a full house.

It seems that herding suicidal ducks may no longer be the most exciting thing I get up to in EH11.

Nero a Meta Edinburgh

39-41 Slateford Road, Edinburgh

(0131-337 0326, www.neroameta.co.uk)

 

Nero a Meta, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food80%
Ambience80%
80%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
61%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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