Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cucina 73 King Street Whalley 21st January & 11th May 2017

I visited Cucina 73 last year and booked again, for a belated birthday celebration.   I had positive contact with owners Raffaella, who runs front of house and chef Fabbio her brother, who oversees the kitchen, so I was looking forward to our visit.   This is not the kind of place, you would just turn up and expect a vegan option, as the emphasis is on homemade authentic cooking, mainly based on meat and fish, with the pasta normally made with egg.

The restaurant derives its name from its address 73 King Street and Cucina means kitchen in Italian and on sunny days, it must be nice to sit outside, in the walled front garden.   Luckily we had what I think is the best table, in the front window, which is better for taking photos, with slightly better light, as the low light in the restaurant, although perfect for dining, is not ideal for crystal clear pics, but they came out better this visit.

I kicked off with my favourite drink of the moment, a large Aperol and soda and Steven had a Negroni, which due to Martini not being vegan friendly, is off limits for me sadly.

A small complimentary basket of bread is offered, with balsamic and olive oil, which we ate, whilst Steven perused the menu, its an advantage knowing what you are having, no decisions to make.

I am a creature of habit and so I ordered a bottle of Villa Dei Fiori Fiano white wine from Puglia, which I was told was vegan on our last visit.   I prefer drinking white wine these days, rather than red which gives me a bad head!

My soup starter was made with farro, an ancient Italian grain and an ingredient I have heard of, but never tried before.   Fabbio makes a mean soup, it was delicious, creamy rich, with perfectly cooked farro, served with garlic crostini and drizzled with olive oil, it was a warming winter dish.

Main course was orecchiette pasta, typical of the region of Apulia in southern Italy, made without egg, its name originates from the word orecchia meaning 'ear' and etta meaning 'small', I love the name.   The pasta was served with broccoli, savoy cabbage, mushroom and chilli, its a simple dish, but I love it and could eat it time and time again, its my ideal pasta dish.  The homemade pasta is much nicer than bought, has a solid texture, not dense or hard, but holds its shape and I demolished the lot.

I was far too full for anything else, so finished the meal with a refreshing pot of peppermint tea.  Service was professional, helpful and really friendly from everyone.   We had a chat with Raffaella, about the benefits of herbal teas and our caffeine detox, as I was dying for my usual double espresso or two and her brother Stefano, who also works front of house, has a great sense of humour, so there is always good banter.

Cucina 73 have started offering pizza on Wednesday and Thursdays, so I revisited last night the 11th May, as I cannot resist pizza.

I chose not to have a starter, as I wanted to do justice to my pizza, but I ordered olives and pickled vegetables, to nibble on.   These were fantastic, especially the pickled vegetables, just the right amount of pickling, al dente not soggy, I could have eaten loads of them, you could tell they were homemade.

Chef Fabbio veganised their Rustica pizza, omitting the cheese and egg and cooking my spinach without anchovies and interestingly the pizza had potato on.   When the pizza arrived, not only did it look fantastic, the aroma emanating from the plate, was mouth watering.

The potatoes were well cooked and crispy, soft spinach and red onion that melted in the mouth, I hate places who plonk raw spinach on top.   I could not fault the pizza, it is one of the best I have eaten and I will be stealing the idea of potatoes on pizza, it worked so well.

Cucina 73 is a friendly family run establishment and they really look after the dietary needs of their customers and although the menu is compact, I can understand why, as they make as much on site as possible and do not want to compromise on quality.

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