So, when I read the menu at La Storia in Westville, I got a little excited. Yes there were the inevitable pages devoted to pizza and pasta, but alongside these stalwarts, some less obvious dishes made their appearance, including a whole section on risottos, and some locally inspired meals like the prawns Mozambique.
On a second visit we took a little time and ventured further into the menu. The tomato salad was fresh and tasty. Simple ingredients, elegantly brought together, it made for a good starter, together with the antipasti board with home cured meats, pickles and bruschetta.
Next, with nervous anticipation, I ordered a risotto main course. Risotto, I believe, is not a difficult dish to make. It is, however, a slow dish to create. There are no shortcuts over the stove to achieve the perfect, oozing, glutinous and magical mouth feel of a good risotto. Which is probably why, every time I've ordered it at restaurants I have been disappointed. Almost without fail, restaurant risotto is undercooked, with a raw center of hard starch lurking in every grain.
My selection was prepared with calamari, chorizo, black olive and chili. The portion was reasonably large, without being generous, but a large proportion of the volume went to the toppings. I struggled to pull together a full forkful of rice to test, but when I did, was dismayed to discover that true to type it was under cooked, and over salted. The calamari and chorizo were tasty, but anyone would be hard pressed to make chorizo taste bad. Overall, the dish was a let down.
Happily, the desert went some way to rectifying the situation - a delicious affogato, three scoops of home made icecream, with a shot of hot, bitter esspresso.
With its laid back decor of mismatched chairs and tables, its friendly, noisy interior and its impressive pizza oven, La Storia feels like the kind of place that you could hang out at on a fairly regular basis. The old faithfuls are well rendered, and the more inventive options, even if they aren't quite there, are at least on the menu. Inconsistent, but you're more likely to leave pleased than peeved.
Not the same old Storia.