Chicken panini up close

Taste of Italy

Whenever I get stuck on trying to decide where to go next for a meal out, I always like to ask my friends. Between us, I think we have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the Edinburgh dining scene and they are always able to remind me of places I haven’t thought of. This time around, I was craving some Italian and the opinion was unanimous – I had to try out Taste of Italy.

Owned by the same guys who own La Favourita, the Taste of Italy also has a strong reputation for doing great Italian eats at a decent price. Mr Bug and I wanted to grab something tasty before we went to catch a movie, so we decided to pop in for a quick bite.

The kitchen at Taste of Italy

Perched on the corner between the Playhouse and Elm Row, this little eatery is always full and as you walk in it is really easy to figure out why – the delicious smells of garlic, tomato and Italian herbs wash over you and suddenly you find yourself much hungrier than you thought you were…

The place has recently re-opened after a refurbishment, and it’s got a few quirky details such as a television pumping Mediterranean pop music at full blast, a vent above the kitchen shaped to look like the colosseum and a brightly lit up specials board. There are bar like tables by the large windows, which are perfect for sitting on and watching the world go by.

The bar at Taste of Italy

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Taste of Italy is more of a cafe than a restaurant, and it does seem to be a hybrid of both. Most of the menu is available to take away, and it has a really wide range of pizzas, pastas, burgers and snacks.

There is a takeaway style bar at the entrance with a range of mouthwatering sandwiches to go, or you can have them toasted up and served sitting in with a mug of hot soup – which is exactly what Mr Bug did!

Chicken, mozzarella and pesto panini with mug of mushroom soup

He had the chicken, mozzarella and pesto panini served with the soup of the day – mushroom. He really enjoyed the sandwich and the mug of creamy mushroom soup was enough to make for a hearty meal.

I, on the other hand, opted for the spaghetti carbonara. I was served with a huge plate of delicious pasta, the carbonara sauce was lovely and rich and the bacon was thickly cut with a beautiful smokey flavour.

Spaghetti carbonara

It was a huge serving, and even though I was pretty full I wanted to keep eating – it was that good. However eventually I was defeated and had to explain to the waitress that the debris on my plate was a failing of my appetite – definitely not of the kitchen!

The food was great, but I was especially pleasantly surprised by the bill. My spaghetti carbonara came in at only £5.95 – very reasonable by Edinburgh standards and excellent value for money, given the incredible quality of the food.

Taste of Italy outside

Whether you want to grab a quick bite to eat or have a proper sit down meal, Taste of Italy is a fantastic option near the city centre. With great food that is excellent value for money and a nice chilled out vibe, you really can’t go wrong.

You can find Taste of Italy at 9 Baxters Place, EH1 3EF. Get the bus to Elm Row, which is served by plenty of buses: 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 22, 25, 26, 44 and 49.

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