As the winds of Storm Dennis swept us across the cobbles of Aberdeen’s historic castlegate on Sunday night, we hurried through the bold red doors of La Lombarda eager to see what its Aberdeen Restaurant Week (ARW) menu had in store.
As the oldest Italian restaurant in the UK, La Lombarda has firmly held its corner of Union Street seeing its way through World War two, the demise of the city’s fishing industry and oil crashes since opening in 1922. Just a few years away from turning big 100, I was intrigued to discover what waited inside that’s been kept this veteran Italian open all these years.
FYI this post is part of a paid partnership with Aberdeen Inspired.
Joining me for the evening was fellow La Lombarda newbie (and pal) Amy who was well briefed that my fork would be over at her pate tasting her options. Here’s our order:
Parfait di Pollo – Homemade chicken liver parfait served with crostini bread
Cozze al Vapore – Mussels steamed with white wine, garlic, parsley and served with fresh italian bread
Stufato di Mazo – Diced beef, pancetta, mushrooms, cooked in a red wine jus and served with mashed potato and seasonal veg.
Saporita – Stonebaked pizza with mozzarella, salamino piccante, sauteed woodland mushrooms and mascarpone cheese and topped with rocket and truffle oil.
Tiramisu Classico – Tiramisu with savoiardi sponge fingers soaked in coffee liqueur with whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Sticky toffee pudding – Homemade to a secret recipe smothered in toffee sauce and served with ice cream or cream.
To start, I had a loaded bowl of steamed mussels coated in a deliciously rich and creamy white wine sauce which had me inhaling by the spoonful to get every last drop. With eyes bigger than my belly, I was left wishing for more.
Amy went for the chicken parfait which tasted like a herby roast chicken fresh from the oven and blended down to pate form and when lathered onto the accompanying crostini bread was a moreish eat indeed.
Choosing a main was a real Sophie’s choice for me, with some great options available I opted for pizza – when in Italy (well, kinda). When the pizza arrived, it was love at first sight. A soft and golden stonebaked base with bubbling mozzerella, creamy mascarpone, earthy mushrooms and peppery silamino creating a sinful eat that heaven would have to let in.
As I wolfed down my pizza, Amy kept it classy with the beef which came with mash and seasonal veg. Cooked in a delicious red wine jus, the beef, pancetta and mushrooms were tender and made this a perfect warm-up dish after bracing the cold.
Staying true to the Italian theme, dessert had to be the tiramisu for me. Encased in thick cream, the sponge fingers were drenched in coffee liqueur and when scooped with the cream and cocoa sauce it was heavenly to eat. Gone in seconds, my eyes elevated over to Amy’s end of the table to grab a bite of her sticky toffee pudding.
Is it even dinner out in the UK if you don’t have sticky toffee pudding? Using its own secret recipe, the sticky toffee at La Lombarda is a dense delight glistening with its dark caramel glaze. If I could find a way to drink that sauce like water without losing my teeth, I totally would!
Dawned in golden fairy lights with exposed brick work and plenty of alcove seating areas, the interior of the restaurant mirrors a rustic Italian tavern that you would find in a remote part of Italy.
If I’m being honest, the look and feel of a place sometimes means more to me than the food. I love to have things to look at, observe and work out what everything is all about and that’s exactly what I spent my time doing at La Lambarda.
With cosy snugs, character-filled walls with reminiscent pictures that could have been passed down from family members and brass wall lights that looked like they once held candle light – it felt authentic, genuine, homely and I loved it. And as for the bar, it gave a different dimension to the restaurant giving the impression of being miles away from Aberdeen on a Tuscan vineyard.
If you’re after a romantic spot in Aberdeen, I reckon that La Lombarda is a match worthy of your date night list. It’s an intimate spot for sure, with candlelit glows and the right amount of footfall that a sea of bellowing voices doesn’t mask the soft sounds of its Italian greats themed playlist. The dogs from Lady and the Tramp would definitely have this one on their list.
My main taking from my evening at La Lombarda was that I wish I had been sooner. From its quirky interior to homely atmosphere and pizza that made me want to check the laws about marrying food, my expectations were surpassed. You’ve got to try it for yourself, so book in your table and you too can tick dining at the UK’s oldest Italian restaurant off your eating bucket list.
Check out the full La Lombarda ARW menu here and remember to quote “Aberdeen Restaurant Week” when you book to get the offer.