I'd been meaning to pay a visit to Domenico's in Leith, ever since a workmate recommended it after she visited with a friend a few months ago. I finally made a reservation on Friday night, and man, I wish I'd got round to it much sooner.
Domenico's is a small place, probably less than 30 covers, and with an unassuming appearance, situated on Sandport Street, off Commercial Street, in the heart of Leith's main restaurant area. We managed to acquire a table in the window, giving my partner, D, a view of the whole restaurant and myself a view of the small park across the street.
The waiters were friendly and contributed to the relaxed atmosphere with a fairly casual approach to their tasks. That's not a criticism by the way, but a positive comparison with some of the over-attentive staff found in some establishments. We never had to wait more than a few moments for attention when we wanted it. The Italian accents seemed to be genuine which I have often suspected not to be the case in certain of Edinburgh's better known Italian eating-places.
Some beautifully fresh bread was brought, along with a small plate of large black olives, and we selected the house "wine of the month", a very drinkable Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The hand written menus are changed every few weeks, as the waiter explained while apologizing for the slightly worn nature of some of the pages, urging us to ask him if we couldn't make out any of the dishes properly!
D selected the Mussels "Mariniere", while I plumped for the Mackerel in Lemon butter. Both starters were generously proportioned, cooked to perfection and frankly, delicious. In each case the sauces were spot on, contributing an interesting flavour without overpowering or detracting from the taste of the fish. D considered asking for some more bread to soak up her sauce but based on the size of the starters, decided she should save plenty of room for the main course to come.
The mains appeared after a respectable interval to allow us to digest the starters (doesn't it annoy you when the mains are in front of you almost as soon as the starter dishes have been cleared? Fair enough at lunch time but slow down in the evenings guys!). I had selected the Rigatoni with spicy sausage, brie, red pepper, cream and tomato sauce. A large bowl of this arrived and proved to be most enjoyable. However I think I would be able to be much more positive about what was a fine dish, were it not for the sublime Pork fillet in creamy brandy and pepper sauce which D was tucking into. I had also considered ordering this but decided against it as I often find pepper sauce (especially the type often served with steak) slightly unpleasant and overpowering. I couldn't have been more wrong. The sauce was a fine subtle, creamy compliment the tender pieces of meat. A selection of firm boiled veg and potatoes made up the ensemble. Fortunately for me, D was feeling full well before she reached the end of the dish and so I managed to snaffle more than just a few morsels.
The waiter collected my plate, realised we were still finishing off the pork, and noticing that we had finished our wine, kindly topped up both our glasses for an open bottle from the bar "to help it down". A small touch perhaps, but one of those things that sends you away with a good feeling (as if we needed it after that food!).
We ordered coffees, liqueurs, and a portion of caramel apple tart to share (we just couldn't resist!) and finally asked for the bill, which arrived with another 2 liqueurs, compliments of the house. The total? Less than 60 quid! I challenge anyone to find a better quality, more enjoyable dining experience at this kind of price in Edinburgh.