Do you know what’s strange? The fact I never visit Edinburgh but recently I’ve been twice within 2 weeks, there’s no in between with me. One thing I love about Edinburgh is that there are SO many food places to visit, however I do feel like I’m missing out on some great places because there’s just so much choice and the city itself is so big (this frustrates me deeply). With David buying me tickets for Wicked for Christmas, fast forward almost 6 months later and the date I was going to see the show was just around the corner, which meant we desperately had to make dinner arrangements for before the show. Whilst looking for somewhere that little bit more special to eat out at in the Capital, an email dropped in my mailbox with details about award winning Italian restaurant Contini.
As soon as I looked up Contini on good old Google, I knew we were in luck and that a visit here would be far from disappointing. Situated on George Street the inside of the restaurant looks twice as prettier as the outside, with pillars, the odd marble table or two, gorgeous art on the walls, and a bar situated in the middle like an island, host to cocktails of every kind. One thing I learned from my visit is that this is a restaurant that has been given a lot of loving.
With a menu full of wonderful Italian options, some well known to me and some not so well known, we were welcomed with a glass of prosecco to get the celebrations started (I GOT THE PERMANENT JOB IN MY WORK THAT I HAD APPLIED FOR!).This was a lovely glass of fizz to begin our evening whilst we worked our way through the menu and made the very hard decision of what to get for our starters and mains. An aspect of the restaurant I really liked was the fact that the waiters give you a quick run through the menu, provide some recommendations and answer any questions about the ingredients that you may have. Our decision-making was that little bit easier thanks to the knowledgeable staff at hand when ordering.
For starters David went for the Pane al Forno (homemade focaccia served with tomato pesto and Capezzana olive oil) whilst I went for the Arancini (crispy risotto balls). I had been saving myself for this all day so you can probably picture just how happy I was when the food arrived and I took that first bite of my food, that was the moment I fell in love with the food Contini has to offer. If arancini is on a menu then you can be 99% sure that I’ll order it. My starter was heavenly and I loved the way it was presented, especially with it being surrounded by the tomato sauce, meaning I could dunk and dip as I pleased.
As soon as I laid my eyes on David’s starter I wished I had ordered this too, the bread looked so fresh and I loved that the pesto and olive oil were in their own little dishes on the side which gave the option to absolutely smother your bread in these wonderful sides or simply take it easy if these were new to you. I thought this was a good idea, especially for anyone who maybe hasn’t tried this dish before, there’d be no worrying about how much pesto or olive oil the bread would be coming in. Thankfully sharing is caring and David kindly let me try some of his, and I’m so glad he did because it was wonderful. For such a simple dish like focaccia this was really tasty and if I find myself back at Contini anytime soon then I’ll probably end up ordering two starters.
Next up was the main course and I sat patiently waiting for this next part of the meal to come, hoping it would be good like the starter, if not better. David ordered the Contadino, which is a pasta dish with Italian sausage, mushrooms, fresh cream and cheese. As you can see from the picture above, it’s an unusually shaped pasta and one neither of us had seen before, something we had also mentioned to the waiter. From this we then found out that this isn’t typical pasta that you’d find anywhere in Scotland, and that actually Contini order this pasta straight from Italy, which just goes to show they choose only the finest of Italian ingredients. David’s pasta was delicious, but with both cream and cheese being key ingredients, it was super filling and when he started to struggle, good old Holly came in to give a helping hand.
I on the other hand went for the homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta in a warm rich tomato sauce. Spinach and ricotta ravioli is one of my go to’s on a menu so I was looked forward to the Contini version. This pasta was really lovely, and despite continuously being told how small a dish this looks due to it only containing ‘6 or 7’ pieces of ravioli, let me tell you it’s filling, especially in the rich tomato sauce. This portion size was just enough and left me feeling content, full in terms of food, but with some room leftover for dessert or ‘dolci‘ as I learned on my visit. The last part of the meal was my favourite and will be very memorable. I’m the type of person who likes to study a menu well in advance to seek out what’s on offer and have some ideas in my head of what I might possibly order. Especially if I’m visiting a restaurant for reviewing purposes then I’ll have a scan of the menu to get a feel of the place. The dessert named ‘Bombolini’ caught my eye from the moment I clicked to open the PDF version of the ‘Dolci‘ menu on the Contini webpage, and even on my visit the waiter recommended this too, surely this had to be a good one. David ordered Fragole, an espresso with madagascan vanilla ice-cream and Italian wild strawberry liqueur, and of course some lemon sorbet which I love after dinner, it really cleanses the palette. Let’s be real here, although David’s coffee-based dessert went down a treat, I could only concentrate on my own (hence me forgetting to take a picture of the his). Mine consisted of homemade doughnuts in a hot chocolate sauce, accompanied by some fresh raspberries. THESE WERE AMAZING! I loved the combination of the chocolate and strawberry sauce and the sour raspberries, there was a party in my mouth with all this sugary goodness. Amazing is the only word I have to describe this, as well as the fact I’d go back to Contini for a dessert and coffee everyday if I lived in Edinburgh.
This is a restaurant fit for purpose, serving delicious, traditional, homemade food and is the perfect location for special occasions. The decor screams sophistication and the music sets the scene. The staff really took cafe of us and the restaurant delivered all of my high expectations and more. Since I’ve now visited Contini for dinner, I would love to see what their breakfast menu is like and give this a try if I take another trip to Edinburgh over the Summer (which I probably will because I’m determined to visit it even more and conquer its food scene). I can’t emphasise enough but if you’re looking for somewhere to go in Edinburgh for a wonderful dinner then GO HERE, I wish I could shout it from the rooftops because it deserves it. This was a truly wonderful dinner, in a truly wonderful place. Where in Edinburgh would you recommend for food?