This delightful family-run gem in the centre of pretty Midhurst does things differently to your average high-street Italian. For a start, it’s smarter than most, with a vibrant interior featuring pops of burnt orange and blue. The atmosphere is buzzy and friendly, from the eager staff to the satisfied punters.
But it’s on the food front that La Piazzetta really stands out from the crowd, with dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, locally sourced as far as possible – just like you’d find in Italy. The chef is from the Sicilian port city of Catania and does his Italian roots justice with a comprehensive offering of pizzas sand pastas, secondi and salads.
Pizza is the menu’s highlight, made to order with fresh dough in a stone oven and topped with good-quality ingredients. Try the classic salami, pollo or prosciutto or go veggie with a caprino, topped with tangy goat’s cheese, fresh asparagus and punchy sundried tomatoes.
The rest of the menu deals in pastas and risottos as well as more substantial plates of meat and fish. Duck breast comes with apricot and thyme sauce, mashed potatoes and spinach, the frittura mista bristles with deep-fried squid, tiger prawns and whitebait, there’s veal and beef in creamy sauces or lighter options of swordfish and sea bream. Starters are simpler: bruschetta and garlic bread, smoked salmon and soup of the day.
The wine list, meanwhile, naturally leans towards Italy, with good choice under £30 and a fair bit under £20.
It’s definitely worth leaving space for dessert as the list of puddings is as traditional as they come: think hearty tiramisu, caramel panna cotta and a sticky toffee bombe covered in rich Belgian chocolate.
For casual dining that won’t break the bank, La Piazzetta is as well suited to a weekend lunch with the kids as date night in the week.