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Restaurant Review: Osteria dei Sapori, Edinburgh

We take the long road to this new-ish Italian restaurant says Gaby Soutar.

Published: May 22, 2021

One of the most famous bridges in Italy must be Ponte dei Sospiri - the Bridge of Sighs.

You could probably name a couple of Colinton Dell’s bridges after this Venetian spot.

Except it would be less of a romantic or wistful sigh and more of a frustrated and hypoglycemic one.

We could have had a lovely walk from our flat to this restaurant in Colinton Village, apart from the fact that two of the en-route bridges across the Water of Leith were shut.

Thus, we had to turn back on ourselves, and a bimble ended up with more hairpin bends than the Giro-d'Italia’s Stelvio pass.

We eventually got there after some dubious directions from a pair of dog walkers.

Their advice resulted in us scrambling up an embankment and trespassing across the playing field of a boys’ boarding school.

Our heels were bleeding and I was hallucinating Kendal Mint Cake. I was ready to plunder someone’s tuck box or play piece, and write a review of that instead.

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Although we ended up being 20-minutes late for our reservation - a bad faux pas in covid times - they let us off the hook at this restaurant, formerly The Pantry.

In fact, they were very relaxed about the sweaty and grey pair, heavy breathing into their PPE.

This place is owned by Gabriele D’agostino and chef Cristiano Guarnacci, who “want to invite you to come together and enjoy traditional cucina Italiana” in their neutrally-decorated and family-friendly space, with its walls of wine, and merch – aka extra virgin olive oil and chutney from Atina.

Our dehydration was quickly sorted by a pair of Blood Orange San Pellegrinos (£2.50) before we racked up a couple of hot starters.

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The porchetta di maiale (£7.90) featured four slices of crackling topped pork belly, a sprig of rosemary and a pale green apple sauce, which featured enough tang to cut through the general fatty-ness.

We also had the polpo dorato (£9.90) - crispy octopus served on aubergine puree.

There were two strapping and tanned tentacles, both of which were coiled at the very tip, in a final and ironic “okay” gesture.

One of them was slightly over-cooked, since, after a poke from the knife, the suckers fell off and rattled onto the plate, like a broken string of pearls.

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These came with a greige aubergine pulp, which was a little lacking in depth, but pleasant.

Not quite enough sapori. We were craving a lemon wedge.

Their pasta course outshone everything.

We’d gone for the panciotti di pare (£14.50) - five perfect bolsters of yolky coloured pasta, each stuffed with mashed king prawn and scallop, and served with another single king prawn - head and tail still on, but arms and trousers off.

There were also sweet datterino tomatoes, a little chilli and pencil-shaving-sized shards of crispy Parma ham, all in a bisque-y sauce that tasted like a wild swimming session.

We’d gone for a second fishy main - the merluzzo dell’ Osteria (£17.50).

It featured a good chunk of pan-fried cod, as well a rather autumnal “butternut squash velvet”, and some bronzed crispy leeks.

On the side, were halved new roasted potatoes with rosemary, a couple of baby carrots, and, strangely, a single cauliflower floret and another of broccoli.

The last two additions seemed strange, like jumper clad Goths from another class sneaking onto the end of the bench when a summer term school picture is being taken.

As we were reviewing under tier three, I thought a pudding of rum baba (£6.50) might be a good way to Trojan horse a little drinkie-poo.

However, this spongy and juicy guy was just gently boozy and mainly saturated with syrup.

It was the size of a muffin or a bap, and came with a blob of Italian patisserie cream and two beautiful and glossy Amarena cherries pressed into its middle, like rubies in a crown.

They could have given me a whole jar of those and I’d be happy.

We also had a cannolo Siciliano (£4.50), stuffed with cream and topped by crumbled pistachio.

It was enough to fuel our walk home, but along the main road this time.

We’re not bothering with the scenic route until the Bridges of Heavy Sighs get fixed.

And, apologies if I was trespassing across that school playing field. (I was only joking about the tuck boxes).

Osteria dei Sapori

2-4 Bridge Road, Edinburgh

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £60.80

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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