Is it any good? You can bet his shirt on it!

Vito with his fritto shirt

THERE REALLY wasn’t any doubt about what we were having for starters at Grazie, that buzzing Italian restaurant on the corner of Leopold Street, Sheffield. Owner Vito Vernia had it plastered across his chest.

“I’m having what he’s wearing” I said, pointing to the tempting looking picture of a fritto misto on his T-shirt.

Well, it’s one way to sell a dish. There used to be Pepe Scime, who billed himself the Talking Menu. Meet Vito, the Walking Menu.

Grazie has just been voted TripAdvisor’s top city eaterie and for once we can’t argue with a site that so often deserves the brickbat of TripeAdvisor from outraged chefs and foodies.

The local Press picked up the story but in today’s Poundland journalism simply rewrote from websites rather than pick up the phone and speak to someone for a brand new quote or a different angle.

Il fritto

It’s third time very lucky on our resume of eating out after the long lockdown: one decent meal, one overpriced disappointment and now Grazie which provides good atmosphere and authentic, honest, tasty regional food – from Puglia – at commendably decent prices.

That fritto, at £18.50, had some of the best king prawns I’ve tasted since the great days of Franco Tarusico’s Walnut Tree, Abergavenny, (but three on a sharing plate for two?), along with smaller prawns, chewy baby octopus, tempura squid and courgettes.

Another good reason to go is the pasta, all home made and freshly prepared every day – and you can’t say that about many Italian restaurants, can you?

I have to restrict my carbohydrate intake because of Type 2 diabetes – too many good dinners down the years – but this wasn’t going to stop me sampling Grazie’s once again.

Lasagna

I had the lasagna, a thoroughly satisfactory dish at an equally satisfactory tenner, and what impressed me, apart from the richness of the sugo, was the thickness of the pasta sheets. Normally they are wafer thin but these were quite thick and gave the dish an even meatier edge.

The overall effect is a solid, gutsy dish. I’ve had politer, more genteel lasagnes but this was just what I wanted.

I’ve already reviewed Grazie before lockdown so just let me say everything here is made from scratch with care . . . and boy does it show!

For a fuller account of our meal nip across to my dining partner Craig Harris’s blog at https://craigscrockpot.wordpress.com/2021/06/01/review-grazie-sheffield-everything-is-oma-ma-made/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Elsewhere it’s quite clear that the local restaurant trade is not yet fully up to speed. It’s having difficulties in finding chefs and waiting staff. Inexperienced youngsters are being pressed into service without adequate training. For goodness sake, keep to your section so diners are not harrassed with the same questions from successive waiters.

And please, if you are going to serve water in jugs, put in some ice and don’t leave it to warm in the dining room.

Customers, too, need to smarten their game. There have been far too many no-shows where diners do not turn up. An already struggling trade can’t stand too many more blows, particularly those out of the way places which can’t rely on walk- ins.

Grazie’s logo

Hope springs eternal in the catering trade and fishmonger Christian Szurcko has opened Native in the city centre, scooping up the lobster and caviar market for those who find Kelham Island too plebby!

Still on seafood, Cary Brown is having his umpteenth transmogrification with new restaurant Neon Fish. There’s plenty to get my teeth into.

*Grazie is at 1-3 Leopold Street, Sheffield S1 26Y. Tel: 07308 028 864. Web: http://www.graziesheffield.co.uk

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