La Pentola is one of those family-run places which guarantees you two things: to give you a warm welcome, and to send you home gloriously full and content after a couple of hours in relaxed surroundings.
Rhys and Laura opened The Pot Bistro on Crwys Road in 2014 and moved to the Whitchurch Road site soon after. They reopened as La Pentola in July 2020 following a planned change in direction prior to lockdown.
It’s probably more accurate to call the food here ‘Italian inspired’ rather than strictly Italian: the menu comes out of Rhys’ long standing love of Italian cooking, but rather than just serve up a predictable list full of lasagne and bolognese he finds inspiration in local ingredients, adding a Welsh slant to his dishes.
The lead billing will be familiar: the difference here is in the details. There might be arancini, but they might be stuffed with Welsh crab and served with chilli jam; or the popular pappardelle, where Rhys’ experience with French techniques meets his love of Italian in a ragú rich not with beef but with confit duck.
Here’s another example of what we mean: ravioli filled with laverbread and cockles mix, topped with a scattering of crisp Parma ham, all enriched by an egg yolk which oozes as you cut into the pasta…all dressed with brown butter. Those are the traditional various parts of a Welsh cooked breakfast of course. Wrapped in homemade pasta. It’s just one of the dishes which make ‘eating in’ at La Pentola a distinctive experience.
There’s gluten-free pasta and pizza dough and ample choice for vegetarians and vegans alike. Beetroot risotto cakes with walnuts and goats’ cheese; pasta genovese teams peas, asparagus, green beans and new potatoes with tagliatelle in a white wine and pesto cream, and deep-fried gnocchi comes with a classic basil pesto or a tangy blue cheese fondue.
Lamb rump is served pink on a vivid green of pea puree, boosted by a veal stock-based sauce of impressive depth, and a smoked bacon and Welsh rarebit ravioli. We did say it wasn’t strictly traditional, but it’s remarkably hearty stuff. (As an aside, that sauce drops hints as to why their Sunday roast is always very popular.)
Desserts and pastries are a draw here- try the densely chocolatey brownie and gelato- and as you’d expect, made in-house. This is food by people who want to feed you well first and foremost, not with more than one eye on a balance sheet, and to send you away happy.
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