La Piazza, Edinburgh – United Kingdom

High heelsHubby wanted to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a ‘proper’ restaurant, as opposed to a child-friendly pizza chain restaurant.  I duly booked a table for the four of us at La Piazza for 5.30pm on a Saturday night.  Yes, I realise this is the time when old people and small children have tea, but I had tickets to see ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and didn’t want to be late for my long-awaited session of ogling Christian Bale in the Bat Suit.

Edinburgh is currently under siege from on-going tram works, which will hopefully be completed before I reach pension age and become too decrepit to use a tram.  At the time of writing, the road in Shandwick Place is just a big crater, with little pedestrian bridges set up at intervals along the street. We parked the car about five minutes’ walk from the restaurant and negotiated our way from one side of the street to the other, amongst large groups of confused Japanese tourists.

La Piazza looks quite dark and unimposing from the outside, but once in the front door we were led right through to the back of the building, which overlooks Rutland Square through wall-to-wall windows.  I’m told that in nice weather, they put tables outside on the patio. The restaurant was clean, softly lit and modern, with lots of dark wood and the shiniest marble floor I have ever seen.  Ladies in stilettos, beware!

I had actively encouraged Hubby to look at the menu online before our visit, but he didn’t so we had to wait the obligatory fifteen minutes for him to decide what to eat.  The restaurant offers several ‘starters to share’ options so we decided on a selection of Italian breads (£11).  Although this is only supposed to feed two to three people, we were given a massive plate of bruschetta and tomato, garlic bread and mozzarella, and rosemary focaccia. It was more than enough for the four of us.

There is no separate children’s’ menu here, but the restaurant will provide a child’s portion of pasta for £6.75, or a child-size pizza for £6.85. Opinionated Son chose his usual Pizza Margherita, while Teenage Daughter chose a full-size pizza with Parma ham (£9.75).  Now, I’m a bit of a pizza snob who believes that ‘the base makes the pizza’.  La Piazza makes a thin base but it’s also quite soft and light, topped with a good sauce and quality toppings.  Just for the sake of quality control I pinched a bit from my son, and it was really tasty.

For my own main course I chose fresh ravioli filled with mushrooms and dressed in a cream and brandy sauce (£11.45). It was delicious, although I could have managed a slightly bigger portion. After all his swithering, Hubby decided on his usual cannelloni.  Although it looked and smelled delicious, Hubby complained it had ‘too much meat in it’.

The dessert menu is small, and sadly uninspired, but never one to pass up the chance of dessert, I ordered an ice cream ‘drenched’ in espresso coffee (£3.15).  I thought I was being both clever and economical, having pudding and coffee in the same dish.  The waiter brought my steaming espresso in a separate cup, then poured it over my ice cream. The ice cream would have been tasty but for the large chunks of ice in it. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise lovely meal.

The service at La Piazza is very good; the staff is efficient and attentive without being in-your-face. (I hate it when I have a mouthful of food and some well-meaning waitress comes up to the table to ask if we’re enjoying our food.)  The menu offers a good choice of starters and main courses, and I was happy to see that this restaurant has not sacrificed true Italian cuisine for a more ‘Anglified’ offering of lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese (not made like Mama used to make it).  Although we ordered from the A La Carte menu, there is also a two-course business lunch menu for £11.95, and a ‘party’ menu for large groups at £20 or £25 per head. The restaurant itself is very comfortable with a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.  It’s well worth a visit.

La Piazza Restaurant, 97-99 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, 0131 221 115.  Website:

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