Contini bring modern Italian food home
I’ve just had lunch at the refurbished Contini and it isn’t an overstatement to say that it was outstanding! Gone are the traditional Italian meals passed down from grandparents. Contini feel confident enough to spread their wings, rebel and show off what modern Italians, especially modern Scottish-Italians are eating.
The decor has been revamped, offering banquette seating, booths and naughty wallpaper!
We dined on a selection of plates. The menu is designed for sharing but some larger secondi courses can be eaten on their own if you’ve picked out a particular dish.
First up – golden homemade ciabatta served with Fontodi olive oil and creamed butter. The ciabatta was sponge-like, none of that chewy and cardboard like stuff we are all used to. The Olive oil was strong, but it worked well with the creamy butter. As a carb-fiend, I would have been happy eating this all day!
Next up, sharing plates of Salame (£6). Salame Calabrese, roasted aubergine, mint, creme fraiche, pomegranate and pistachio crumb…
This was my favourite dish – summer on a plate. The salami had a pleasant kick (the mint cream calmed it down!).
Next, mozzarella di bufala (£6). Mozzarella di bufala DOP with figs, Italian honey and sourdough toast. The best mozzarella you will taste outside of Italy, believe me!
Agnolotti (£6.50). Homemade filled egg pasta with spinach, nutmeg and ricotta. Served with butter and basil sugo. Perfectly-cooked pasta, non-mushy with a firm interior. The sugo wasn’t suitably tart to offset the ricotta.
Secondi course up now with Cervo (£16). Scottish venison haunch, cavolo nero, roasted balsamic onions, fried figs and aceto di musto. Melting venison, beautifully-cooked and extremely moreish.
Another secondi: Merluzzo (£16). This is cod poached in coldpressed olive oil with fennel, samphire and chilli. WOW! If you try one dish here, get this. It’s not oily as you would think but delicately-cooked cod which is full of flavour.
Side salads included Cavolfiori (£3.50). Shaved cauliflower with porcine and lemon oil, breadcrumbs and Venetian spiced walnuts. There’s more to cauliflower than having it with cheese (I know it’s the best!) but try this. It’s different and a mix of flavours.
The other salad was Finocchio (£3.50). Fennel, Tarocco orange salad, green olives and acacia honey. The blood orange grated throughout the dressing gave this a summer feel with a taste that even I as a non-fennel eater loved.
Finally! Time to try some Bombolini (£5). Hot homemade doughnuts with a delicious chocolate sauce. Fluffy and far too easy to eat!
I was highly impressed with the new Contini. It embraces local ingredients and is moving forward with Italian cuisine, showing us a standard of restaurant that many others should aspire to. To key to successful modern Italian dining in Scotland should not be stodgy pasta and risotto dishes.
This is a place for sharing and discussing your dinner. Come in with your partner and swap dishes all night (but probably best not swapping your partner!).
Contini Ristorante, George St, Edinburgh
A short walk from waverley train station and Princes St bus routes.
Tel: 0131 225 1550