We were chased through the streets of Scarborough by a mad bloke in a wheelchair.
Seriously, it started off funny and then got a bit weird before moving on to disconcerting and, finally, sinister, as he stalked us turn by turn and crossing by crossing; cursing and pointing his bony madman finger at us as he went.
It was like a scene from the League of Gentlemen.
It made us hungry and Lanterna was our refuge.
Proper Italian, this. No pizza. Luckily we’d studied the menu (naturally) several times (naturally) to allow this to sink in. We were braced for it.
“It’s the English temple of Italian cuisine” according to an Italian rag; a little bit of northern Italy in Scarborough. Trips off the tongue, dunnit?
Giorgio – t’owner and t’chef – bought it in ‘97 at which point I reckon the closest I’d got to an Italian meal was a microwave lasagne. Since then a load of those proper reviewers have rolled up and settled in for the fish, the truffles and the bucket-loads of Amarone and Barolo on offer.
And that winelist is a monster. 99.9% Italian, and most are the sorts mentioned above, which is to say prices can go into triple figures.
But you need something cold whilst you peruse the menu (again) though don’t you? Panicking that we don’t speak the lingo and therefore had no idea what was what, we asked Rachel – Giorgio’s good lady and Lanterna’s Front of House gaffer – what she recommended in the way of white wine.
The old pulse quickened as we wondered if she’d direct us to that nice bottle at “kerching” prices. But then she says; “try the house white – it’s what we drink when we go to Giorgio’s village in Italy.” and all was calm. A refreshing choice in that famously balmy Scarborough weather. £16.
Enough preamble. What of the scran?
“Fish stew” (tenner and a bit) won the the battle of the starters. We were kind of expecting one of those ‘rustic’ dishes, all stock and no substance, but what landed were pieces of meaty ling and Scarborough woof (mind ticking over for a funny line there… can’t think of one) in a herby tomato sauce whose richness suggesting it had been cooked down for a good amount of time.
The other starter was spaghetti in a porcini and white wine sauce (£8). When people talk about pasta cooked perfectly, our guess is they mean ‘cooked like this’; ie with body and bite.
Only problem with this dish was, well, us. In a rush of white-wine-sauce to the head we’d ordered veal for one of the mains that came with a similarly rich sauce. Brilliantly simple in presentation it was the highlight of the mains and, like the spaghetti, cooked to what we’d deem as ‘damn reet’. Finish the sentence: it cut like…and melted in…
The other main was venison ravioli. They don’t do things by halves over in Piedmont do they? A Yorkshire portion of pasta filled with a homely meat sauce made us (nearly) regret having the fish and chips at lunch.
We scoffed all this with a bottle of Amarone. At £40 it was at the lower end of the list in that bracket. We were on our hols so splashing out, but the list starts at around £15.
A few nice touches, too: no typically bland boiled and microwaved veg here. We got peperonata and lightly battered broccoli, which still counts as healthy.
And, reader, it appears that I may have a touch of the Piedmont in me for, without asking, we were given chips.
There were a couple of other tables when we were in on a Monday night. One was a couple of Aussies talking cricket; the other a couple of Yanks talking acting. Doubt they were chased there by a wheelchair madman.
£135 for 2 courses and 2 bottles.