A DECADE ago, Huddersfield town centre was an altogether different place from today.
For a start it had lots of different shops selling lots of different things – and not just those which cost £1 or less.
But over the years, Huddersfield has suffered the same fate as regional town centres up and down the land.
Empty shops, a reduced footfall and many leases being taken on by purveyors of bargains, seasonal goods and general tat is a familiar story.
Government officials, retail expert Mary Portas and local councillors the length and breadth of the country are scratching their heads trying to reinvent our town centres based around quality, independent retailers and leisure.
This is already happening to some extent here, as the number and range of the town centre’s restaurants and cafes mushrooms.
Recently, newcomers Neaversons, Trattoria Domenico, Botafogo, Zeus, Marimonte, Med One, Istanbul Meze, Primo, Cafe Society and Meson La Pepa – to name but a few – have taken their place alongside more established names such as Thai Sakon, Discovery Bay, Bradley’s Chilli Lounge, The Keys and Balooshai Central.
No longer is the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights the preserve of young lads and lasses hell-bent on downing as much alcohol as they can before staggering home.
Some of Huddersfield’s better restaurants are here, and if you haven’t tried them yet, you should.
San Vito, located under the Huddersfield Hotel at the bottom of Kirkgate, opened its doors on November 15.
Run by Italians who previously had a restaurant in Leeds, Marco and Angelo have managed to create a homely, welcoming interior sporting Mediterranean colours out of a fairly unpromising space.
The welcome was just as warm as the rich shades of ochre and red on the walls. The menu offers the standard fare of pastas, pizzas and traditional Italian favourites and it’s all reasonably priced. All the pizzas and pastas, except for the specials, range from £6.95 to £7.95.
As of this week, the restaurant is offering a starter, any pizza or pasta and a glass of wine all-in for just £10.95. This has to be a good option for cost-conscious lovers of Mediterranean cuisine.
There’s a good selection of over half a dozen house wines at just £11.95. Fine wines were also on offer with Barolo weighing in at £28.95 a bottle. And if you’re feeling really flush, there’s always the Dom Perignon Vintage Brut at £145.
Given that many people are likely to visit San Vito for its value for money, they may not sell many, but it’s nice to be offered the expensive stuff!
Our drinks were brought promptly and, while deciding what to order, the waiter brought us focaccia con olio (garlic bread) straight from the oven with tomato and fresh parsley, compliments of the chef. It was a real taste of Italy and a nice touch.
Starters on offer included the favourites of bruschetta, bresaola, tricolore, aubergine and antipasto. We ordered the tomato soup of the day, which arrived steaming hot and tasted as though it had just been made.
The mozzarella fiorentina wrapped in pancetta ham with sun blush tomatoes was richly flavoured and summoned the tastebuds intoaction.
The king scallops from the specials board were more princely than majestic and, although I enjoyed them, they weren’t as large or succulent as some I’ve had, albeit at more expensive restaurants. The carbonara pasta and Americana pizza were good, with the pizzas having thin crusts.
The cheese-filled ravioli from the specials board were filled with cheese and fine herbs, giving a delicate rather than an overwhelming cheese flavour; a nice balance.
No room for desserts, we ordered coffees and left. But not before the waiter had shown us where he was from in Italy on a wall map and the chef had emerged from the kitchen to shake us all warmly by the hand.
VERDICT: Good value for money and friendly
41 Kirkgate, Huddersfield
Tel 01484 519699
Website www.san-vito.co.uk Opening hours Monday to Friday noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 10pm, Saturday noon to 10.30pm, closed Sunday
ChildrenYes, children’s menu
Disabled Access No
The bill £17.90 a head including drinks and coffees
Would you go back? Yes, we would