FOOD REVIEW: Mediterranean magic at Le Pisani in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 16:50 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:57 20 June 2019

Le Pisani, in Fore Street, Seaton. Picture: Callum Lawton

Le Pisani, in Fore Street, Seaton. Picture: Callum Lawton

Archant

Nestled in the seaside town of Seaton lies a restaurant which offers a central Mediterranean cuisine with a heavy local influence.

Darren Caruana (left) with his wife and co-owner Rosabelle and uncle Ray Pisani, owner of the Axminster branch of Le Pisani. Picture: Mark Talbot.Darren Caruana (left) with his wife and co-owner Rosabelle and uncle Ray Pisani, owner of the Axminster branch of Le Pisani. Picture: Mark Talbot.

Le Pisani opened in August 2018, which is run by co-owners Darren and Rosabelle Caruana, who are originally from Malta.

And it's this Mediterranean influence which dusts the dishes offered by Le Pisani, an intimate little eatery built as part of the redevelopment of the former Grove nightclub.

Around £100,000 has been invested in the restaurant, which seats 60 customers.

Darren said: "Business has been very good - better than expected and that is down to the product we are offering and the consistent quality of the food and service."

Darren started running the Seaton restaurant thanks to some persuading from his uncle Ray, who runs another branch of Le Pisani in Axminster.

The Fore Street-based eatery offers a range of different fare, from rich pasta dishes to takeaway pizza, and even a traditional roast on Sundays.

Calamari rings and warm Mediterranean bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Picture: Callum LawtonCalamari rings and warm Mediterranean bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Picture: Callum Lawton

The business also listens to, and acts on, advice from its customers - a refreshing approach which instils confidence in those with different opinions on what they are eating.

"Since we opened, we have adapted around 70 per cent of the original menu based on feedback," said Darren.

"We always listen to what customers have to say, and change our menu on their feedback - even if it's just little things."

So what's the food like?

To start, I chose the Mediterranean bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and my colleague ordered the calamari rings, which came accompanied with spicy tartar sauce, side salad and a lemon wedge.

The 'Seaton Special' pasta, bursting with fresh seafood. Picture: Callum LawtonThe 'Seaton Special' pasta, bursting with fresh seafood. Picture: Callum Lawton

The calamari was light, and coated in golden flaky breadcrumbs. There was no chew, just soft buttery squid which, with a generous dip of tartar sauce, was unquestionably more-ish.

The squid rings were a good size too - if accompanied by chips, they could easily be transformed into a main course.

This big serving would be explained later, as Darren put down three generous main pasta dishes before us.

"We want people to leave here full," he smiled, as my eyes boggled at the food being served at our table.

If our appetite weren't whetted from the starters, they were raring to go when the pasta dishes were set down in front of us - carbonara rosalia, classic chicken and smoked bacon pesto and the intriguingly named 'Seaton Special'.

Being from an Italian descent, I had high hopes for the carbonara - and I wasn't disappointed.

Prepared 'Maltese style', the Carbonara Rosalia featured of bacon, mushrooms and onions in a rich creamy cheese sauce. Picture: Callum LawtonPrepared 'Maltese style', the Carbonara Rosalia featured of bacon, mushrooms and onions in a rich creamy cheese sauce. Picture: Callum Lawton

The pasta was thick, and the sauce was thicker! Instead of the traditional egg-based dressing, the linguine was coated in a creamy, cheesy sauce which stuck to the tastebuds long after the first bite.

If you like rich food, you're in for a treat but brace yourself for the ensuing food coma that comes after it.

The menu said the carbonara came with a Maltese twist - Darren explained this was through the introduction of onions, mushrooms and cheese.

Comparing the cheese sauce to that of a traditional carbonara sauce (made with egg, hard cheese, guanciale, and black pepper), it was richer in taste and heavier in consistency.

It is the perfect dish to eat when it is blowing a hooley outside and hammering down with rain, as it is comfort food at its finest.

Next up was the pesto pasta, which was the polar opposite of the carbonara.

Classic chicken and smoked bacon pesto pasta. Picture: Callum LawtonClassic chicken and smoked bacon pesto pasta. Picture: Callum Lawton

Light, easy to eat but still rocking traditional salty, herby flavours, it would be a great dish to eat on a sunny evening.

The homemade pesto was sweet and mellow - with succulent chunks of chicken and salty slices of bacon really coming to the fore.

As with the carbonara, the portion was huge so ensure you've left some space in your stomach after your starter!

Lastly, we tried the Seaton special - a swimmingly fresh mix of seafood caught off of our Jurassic coast.

The dish smacked of French cooking, but the white wine sauce usually indicative of that cuisine was replaced by a lemon cream sauce which gave the pasta a fresh and lighter taste.

There was no scrimping on ingredients either, with scallops, mussels and prawns jostling for space amongst the spaghetti, which almost had the consistency of udon noodles.

Le Pisani offers takeaway pizza alongside its in-house restaurant menu and Sunday roast. Picture: Callum LawtonLe Pisani offers takeaway pizza alongside its in-house restaurant menu and Sunday roast. Picture: Callum Lawton

This was the most expensive pasta dish of the three we tried, but it's easy to see why with so much fresh seafood packed into every bite.

It put the 'Sea' in Seaton Special.

After our stomachs had been thoroughly tested, we had to find space for dessert.

Like our previous review at The Pig - @ Combe, I challenged our friendly waitress Philomena to choose us an item off the menu which she thought was best suited to what we ate.

My colleague stubbornly chose the sticky toffee pudding, having clapped his eyes on it from when we first viewed the menu.

The sticky toffee was what it said on the tin - sticky, sweet and more-ish.

Sticky toffee pudding at Le Pisani, Seaton. Picture: Callum LawtonSticky toffee pudding at Le Pisani, Seaton. Picture: Callum Lawton

A dusting of icing sugar and fresh raspberries added a nice touch.

Philomena brought me a lemon zest ice-cream cheesecake, which was wonderfully sharp and lifting after such rich, indulgent eating during the mains.

The dessert was splashed with a zingy lemon sauce and topped with airy meringue straws which dissolved on the tongue, and was mounted on a crumbly biscuit base.

It was a perfect finisher to a good evening of eating.

*Top tip - don't splash the cash on a posh glass of wine, the house white was subtle, sweet and refreshing.

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