Strada, The Oracle, ReadingBy Sarah Dave
July 22, 2009
They didn’t stand a chance. One minute they were plump, juicy curves of king prawns piled in a sautée of garlic, white wine, chilli and lemon butter, the next they were empty husks sucked dry by my ravenous guest.
But who can blame her with such fine fare?
My friend and I decided to spend an evening at Strada and try out the Italian chain’s new summer menu, which has 12 new dishes.
While she made short work of one of the established starters of gamberoni (£6.95),
I tried one of the new offerings, carpaccio di manzo (£5.75); delicious slices of cured beef with rocket, lemon and Parmesan shavings.
Raw beef and strong cheese are one of the great pairings – the Barack and Michelle of strong partnerships – and the quality of ingredients here didn’t let me down.
The gnocchi sorrentina (£4.95), with plum tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, is another new starter if you want to stick to veggie.
On to mains – and fish, meat, pastas, pizzas and salads were on offer.
New to the list for the season were risotto cappesante (£13.95) with scallops, and risotto alla zucca (£9.95) with butternut squash, spinach and pancetta.
Its new fish dish is an overwhelming-sounding whole gilthead bream stuffed with lemon and thyme (£13.95) with a shaved fennel, onion, olive and tomato salad.
There’s also Lombardy’s famous salsiccie montovana, roast Italian sausages with grilled polenta, rosemary-infused borlotti beans and Swiss chard (£10.50).
I went for one of their new pizza additions – formaggio di capra (£8.95) – goat’s cheese with balsamic onions, walnuts and fior di latte mozzarella.
I was pleased that although it was a huge moon of pizza, the base was thin and light so I was able to finish most of it. The rest was packaged in a doggy bag ready for my lunch the next day, rejected crusts and all.
As a great fan of goat’s cheese I would have liked more on the pizza rather than little blobs and I wished the onions were sweet balsamic as it would have given it that lovely salty/sweet taste combo.
My friend went for a salad but this was no ordinary leafy affair. Her insalata romana (£10.50) was a tour de force of ingredients with grilled chicken and pancetta tossed with grilled artichokes, tomato, olives, gran padano, radicchio and spinach with lemon, honey and mustard dressing and Sardinian crispbread.
She couldn’t finish it, but loved the flavours and the portion was good value for money.
Resting for a bit and enjoying some glorious glasses of moreish rosé (me with a casa defra pinot at £4.80 and her with a cerasuolo montepulciano at £4.45), we pondered the puddings.
Fresh strawberries and blueberries in a biscuit basket (£4.95) was one of two new desserts, but we shared the new torta di ricotta with toasted almonds, pine nuts and a blob of ice cream (£4.95).
Tiramisu, chocolate fondant and nougat semi-freddo are among the alternatives.
Strada is a buzzy, friendly, always popular restaurant and it’s not hard to see why with its charming staff, quick service and yummy food.
Just don’t go if you’re a king prawn – you won’t stand a chance.
- Telephone: 0118 939 4861
- Website: www.strada.co.uk
- Address: 20 The Oracle, Riverside,