Dining out: Il Piatto, Harcourt Place, Scarborough

Il Piatto, Harcourt Place, Scarborough.
Il Piatto, Harcourt Place, Scarborough.

Like many, you’ll probably be able to reel off at least six or seven Italian restaurants in Scarborough (Indian, too, but you’ll struggle with Chinese!). 
And probably the most unassuming, least shouty of the Italians is Il Piatto.

It’s been there, tucked away facing the Grand Hotel, with its backside on Bar Street, for years, of course; previously Da Claudios, he (Claudio) is still the owner-chef. It’s obviously got a loyal following, with its traditional, lovingly prepared, home-cooked dishes. These days Italian food can seem as common to our British palates as bangers and mash – it’s the little touches, additions, 
nuances that elevate one meal, or place, from the next.

Our party of six visited on a Thursday; only two other tables were occupied but the restaurant soon filled up.

In Italian, il piatto means “The Plate”. Or, says Google, as an adjective it can mean dull, dreary, flat.

There’s nothing dreary about the interior. The red and black exterior theme is continued inside with the same colours for the chairs, in a minimalist, coffee-and-cream walled smart space. At the far end is the open-plan kitchen and bar seating area. The menu’s not dull either – the lunchtime version is impressive; so too are the two-person and early-bird (before 7pm) tempters in an evening.

Before any of our choices 
arrived we were presented with a plate of Italian bread and three dips, a nice touch.

Our three starters were pleasing enough – mixed olives, tomato bruschetta and ricotta and spinach balls.

Most dishes could be ordered for children at half price – handy too for adults without a big appetite. Our appetites, though, were reasonably large, and the 
supremely efficient staff soon delivered the mains.

My lasagna was packed with cheese and spinach, and not overly meaty. Spaghetti carbonara was, similarly, just the right portion size and was despatched hungrily.

The filetto di manzo al caffe was a beef fillet served with marsala sauce, with coffee bean, thyme, peppercorn and cream. It was, said its new owner, delicious, and the coffee beans were a novelty. The involtini – stuffed skirt steak – was melt-in-the-mouth tender.

A pan-fried chicken breast topped with ham and mozzarella also went down well. But a chicken and mushroom pizza was overcooked at the edges, although there was heaps of chicken. Unsurprisingly my son devoured the centre and left a ring of crust. Look on the restaurant’s website and you’ll see some tantalising dishes, not least pizzas without sooty sides.

Desserts aren’t featured on the menu (nor are drinks), and the waitress outlined four choices – tiramisu, lemon cheesecake, apple strudel and ice-cream. The mint choc chip ice-cream was “gorgeous”, apparently, and my lemon cheesecake was among the finest puds I’ve had for a long time.

On its window Il Piatto claims to be “the Italian restaurant with a difference”. I’m not sure what that difference is, and if it was a contest it’s up against some strong opposition in town. But there’s room for all our many and varied restaurants, each has its fans, and in many respects “The Plate” takes some licking.

Rating: 7