For a good few years now, Ye Olde Southampton has had a “bit”. Down the bottom end of town, the “bit” was a mighty amount of space with absolutely nothing in it but gravel. Then, site hoarding. Then, heavy plant. Then, pizza. Yay for pizza!
Hailed as a “dining quarter”, Watermark is a £85m development in the city centre. It’s basically a truck load of nice restaurants and a fancy luxury cinema (the husband took the toddler there on a date to watch Peppa Pig while I died and went to hell in Asda). At first, I was slightly skeptical as to whether Southampton needed more foodie places. But actually, having been a few times now, it’s lovely.
So, when I was invited to the opening night of L’Osteria this week, I was molto contento. Off I went, with a girlfriend I’d not seen in a while, and a preparatory empty tum. It’s not a chain in the UK, per se, as they currently just have one other restaurant in Bristol, so I had nothing to base it on other than that I like pizza a lot.
We were given a tour by the manager when we arrived, and as restaurants go, it’s been “done up” really well. It’s split level, and as well as loads of indoor space there’s a gorgeous terrace outside with a fantastic view. The chairs all have blankets strewn over them which is totally on fleek and a lovely touch. The decor is modern but warm and cosy, and what I really liked were all the different elements to the seating. Downstairs, there’s an area perfect for families, with drawing tables for the children (think retro school desks with a lift-up lid). There’s also an open plan kitchen so diners can watch all the pizza-flinging and pan-tossing. Upstairs, there’s an area that can be used for functions, seating around 40 with huge floor to ceiling sliding wooden panels for privacy. Plus, lots of tables in varying sizes, and plenty of seating next to the very well stocked bars.
The decor only gets you so far, though. If the food is crap, all the blankets on all the terrace chairs won’t get me back. Thankfully, it was delicious. No less than three staff had told us about their legendary pizzas, which are 18 inches. Now, I’m pretty shite with numbers and stats so I kind of stared blankly as I tried to equate 18 inches into something relatable (careful, now). So while I stood there internally musing that my baby was about 18 inches long at birth, my friend was dutifully rallying us up and saying that yes, we’d better try one of those.
Aforementioned gargantuan pizzas can be split in half with different toppings, so we decided to share one and go for one half Funghi Freschi (er, mushrooms) and one half Rustica (olives, just the right amount of spice). We also shared a salad and some Bruschetta, you know, for the veg. My friend was designated driver so she tried out one of their signature fruit lemonades while I mainly knocked back alcohol. All the dishes are freshly made, with the dough and bread made by hand in the restaurant. The ingredients are authentic Italian and the flavours are amazing – as well as the little medley above, I also tried a little dish of crayfish pasta and it was incredible.
Then came pud and cocktails – I went for the pear crumble with sour ice cream, and a cocktail that my friend ordered for me while I was in the loo and therefore I have no idea what is was. It was delizioso though.
Also, because I’m a girl and girls notice these things, the toilets are very swish. That’s important, trust me.
The prices are very reasonable considering the quality of the food – around £6 for a starter, £10 for a pizza and £5 for a dessert, plus a weekly specials menu. They do takeaway too, which is pretty cool.
Anyway, if you’re local to Southampton (or perhaps just paying a visit to our majestic city steeped in maritime history….slash going to IKEA), do check out L’Osteria. And for the record, 18 inches is pretty damned big.
-SJW April 2017
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to treated to dinner at L’Osteria as part of their launch event, but all views and opinions are my own. For further information about my work with brands, please refer to my Disclosure Statement.