Location, location, location. That’s the mantra when it comes to buying a house. But surely it also applies to opening a restaurant too?
Not for a minute am I being disparaging about Longroyd Bridge but this corner of Manchester Road is not where you’d expect to find a new Italian restaurant.
It’s opposite The Bridge pub and when I drove past the other week I did a double take.
When I mentioned La Famiglia around the office everyone seemed nonplussed.
A search on Facebook found La Famiglia’s page. They have a website, too, but that’s still a work in progress.
Huddersfield’s newest restaurant suddenly popped up out of nowhere and, erm, didn’t seem to tell anyone.
Could this be Huddersfield’s best-kept dining secret or a secret best kept hidden?
A couple of reviews on Facebook – there were only two – gave hope. The gist was ‘get over the location and the food’s great.’
A little detective work revealed that ‘famiglia’ means ‘family’ and La Famiglia is indeed a family-run business. Dad Domenico Napolitano, originally from Naples, runs it with daughter Autilia.
The family are steeped in the restaurant business and founded La Dolce Vita in Scissett before moving to Bridlington, Yeadon and back to Huddersfield.
The family came across an empty old building in Manchester Road and spent 12 months renovating it entirely by themselves.
They’ve made a great job of it and the interior certainly looks the part. Just like a homely Italian should be. So big ticks for the CV.
My partner Sian and I took our friends Stan and Nancy along on a quiet Thursday. There was only one other couple in the place all night.
Sian and I arrived early and I’d seen from the website there was a big car park at the back. So I pulled off Manchester Road at the side of the restaurant to be greeted by a rough industrial yard with a collection of tumbledown units and lock-ups with angry-looking ‘No Parking’ warnings daubed on walls and gates.
So we got over it – the location and the threshold – to be greeted by a young waiter. Stan and Nancy hadn’t arrived and the place was empty. We had the pick of the tables and chose one in a corner near the window.
Unfortunately that turned out to be something of a mistake as the speakers for the music were just above our heads and we had to ask for it to be turned down. The volume was lowered but it remained more than a distraction.
I chose a bottle of house red (£11.50) and we browsed the menu. It’s huge and the choice was mind boggling. Think Italian and whatever you want is there – pasta, pizza, steak, chicken, fish, veal, duck. Need I go on? There’s also a specials board for good measure.
Stan and Nancy arrived and we set about the menu which surely needs some streamlining.
There were even two soups of the day but we gave both a miss and I went for the Spicy Meat Balls for starters (all £5.95) while Sian had Deep Fried Calamari and Stan opted for Funghi Al Aglio (garlic mushrooms).
My beef was prime quality and the spicy tomato sauce had a lovely consistency and I mopped up the remainder with bread.
Sian’s calamari was well cooked, subtle and lightly battered and Stan’s mushrooms came in a generous portion and the sauce was deliciously creamy.
Nancy, having sat out the starter, came in for mains with the Grilled Swordfish with lemon sauce (£14.95). It was a tasty piece of fish that came with fresh vegetables and chips.
Stan chose Duck Al Limoncello (£14.95), roast duck in a lemon and orange sauce. The meat was tender and the sauce a delight.
I went for the Rustic Penne Pasta (£7.95). The rich cream sauce was made with onion, bacon, broccoli and chilli. The bacon pieces were bursting with taste while the chilli enhanced the flavour and didn’t overwhelm it as it might.
Sian’s Spaghetti Bolognese (£7.95) was classic and filling. Too big to finish with desserts in mind.
Regular readers will know I’ve got a sweet tooth so there’s no missing the desserts. Given the size of the rest of the menu the dessert choice (all £3.95) was limited to just four choices.
Sian and I can never resist the tiramisu. We shared a portion, doused in fresh cream, and it was moist and moreish. Stan had the Torta Della Nonna – which translated means Grandmother’s Pie – and, as the young waiter couldn’t help, we googled it and found it was a custard tart. Delicious.
So the food is everything you would expect from a good Italian, which brings us back to the location.
You need to reserve judgement about that and give it a try.