I love the idea of recipes that have been handed down through generations, with each incarnation getting ever closer to pasta perfection. Italians are known for many things, from fashion and arts to sports cars, however, if there’s one thing Italians are truly famous for everywhere in the world, it’s pasta.
Marco Greco’s love for pasta started in Calabria, in southwest Italy, (the bit occupying the ‘toe’ of the country’s boot-shaped peninsula) when he would help his Nonna make traditional hand-rolled fresh pasta. This passion for pasta inspired Pranzo. A modern restaurant, specializing in pasta that is handmade every morning. Marco opened Pranzo (which means ‘lunch’) in Ilkley in 2018. Shortly after, he set his sights on having another restaurant in Harrogate and in October last year, he opened Pranzo on Cold Bath Road.
The main menu is compact, focusing on what they do best, offering around eight pasta dishes. Yet every box was ticked. There is a separate ‘specials’ menu that is changed regularly with dishes such as Pan-fried swordfish with Caramalised Onion Patate al Forno and Peperonata, and Pan Fried 8oz Ribeye Steak on a bed of Rocket, Beef Tomatoes, Shaved Pecorino and Salsa Verde.
We enjoyed toasted focaccia with balsamic vinegar and oil in our cosy booth whilst devouring the menu. At 7pm it was starting to get busy.
Knowing how this restaurant was inspired by his Nonna, I had to order Nonna’s slow-roasted red pepper and garlic bruchetta to start, whilst Lizzy ordered sauteed king prawns, garlic, parsley and fresh chilli. The prawns had a perfect ‘kick’ to them and were deliciously light. For our mains we ordered two of their most popular dishes: Bigoli with nduja, spicy sausage, white wine, spinach and cream, and the Lobster Ravioli in a creamy lobster and parsley sauce, (for those not in the know, bigoli is a kind of thick spaghetti). Children are catered for with smaller portions of all their main pasta dishes and gluten-free is available on request.
Too many people do a disservice to fresh pasta by either cooking it for too long or drowning it in sauce. I can honestly say I experienced neither here. This is a restaurant keeping things simple and producing dishes that are very special with beautifully presented food. After all, you eat with your eyes (or as the Italians would say, “mangiare con gli occhi”).
We had pleasantly full tummies after enjoying our mains, so we shared a Warm Nutella Brownie with Pistachio Ice Cream and it didn’t take much persuasion to get me to try the After Eight Espresso Martini. Oh my goodness, this was divine. Strong-Minty-Sophisticated. Perfect!
The cocktail list was surprisingly extensive. It was just a shame we were driving. There was also a good selection of wines by the glass and bottle. This was well balanced and diverse, with the helpful and knowledgeable staff able to recommend pairings. The Kike Traminer Aromatico, Sicilian Sauvignon Blanc would be my choice.
I’m sure that Marco’s Nonna is incredibly proud. Great food, friendly, efficient service, all enjoyed in a modern, yet traditional, family atmosphere. It wasn’t at all hard to understand why the restaurant was full on a Wednesday evening. It’s that simple: “bellissimo!”
31 Cold Bath Road
Harrogate HG2 ONL.
Tel. 01423 567513
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm.
139 Bolling Road,
Ilkley LS29 8PN.
Tel. 01943 600084
Opening times: Tuesday, Weds & Thursday 11am-2.30pm & 5-9pm Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm