Soprano's, Southsea | Restaurant review

A sign of a good restaurant is if it manages to transport you elsewhere.

Soprano's at Palmerston Road, Southsea.
Soprano's at Palmerston Road, Southsea.

Whether you feel like you’ve literally jetted off to another country, or it just gives you the feeling of being on holiday by helping you relax, a restaurant’s atmosphere and ambience can make the food taste that much better.

And that’s what happened when Dish Detective felt like they were in Italy during a dinner date at Soprano’s in Palmerston Road, Southsea.

The Italian eatery is a bit of a Southsea institution, having been there more than 20 years so this visit is definitely long overdue.

The two pizzas and chips from Soprano's.

From the outside Soprano’s seems small especially when compared to its neighbour Meat and Barrel. And it is a fairly modest size on the inside too, but this adds to its charm – creating a cosy and more intimate atmosphere.

My companion and I are seated near the bar and already the restaurant is almost full, despite the off-putting weather. We are greeted by a friendly member of staff who immediately takes our drinks order before leaving us to peruse the menu.

Although groups are kept to a maximum of six people and workers are wearing face masks, for the rest of the evening it almost feels as if we have entered a non-Covid reality once we are sat at our own little table.

The menu would be every Italian food lover's dream, with a healthy selection of staple dishes including pizza, pasta, calzones and risotto, as well as a range of salads, meat grills, platters and starters. We could easily order far too much food so it takes a while to deliberate.

Eventually we opt for a goat’s cheese bruschetta (£6.50) to start and a pizza each as a main, as well as a side of chips with aioli dip (£3.50).

The bruschetta is brought out quickly and is still warm. It is a toasted ciabatta topped with tomato, pesto, sweet balsamic vinegar and goat’s cheese with a mixed leaf salad and olives.

There is definitely enough there for it to be split between two. The goat's cheese is really creamy and the pairing of pesto and balsamic vinegar is delicious. It is the nicest bruschetta I’ve ever tasted.

After the starter we are excited for our pizzas to arrive. However, there is a bit of a delay between the courses. Luckily we are enjoying our conversation and the setting of the restaurant, and a waitress apologises and tells us that our food is on its way.

When the pizzas are brought out we agree they are worth the wait. I have chosen the caramellata (£11) topped with goat’s cheese (I am aware it’s a double helping), caramelised red onion, olives, pine nuts and mozzarella.

The base is perfectly cooked. Its crust is crunchy but not hard and the dough in the middle of the pizza is softer, making it easy to cut. The goat’s cheese and caramelised onion work as contrasting but complementing flavours.

My companion has ordered the halloumi pizza (£11), which is topped with mixed olives, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato, halloumi, mozzarella, rocket, parmesan and a balsamic glaze.

We exchange slices and I agree that theirs is equally as delicious, with the saltiness of the halloumi adding a more unusual taste without being overpowering.

As a side dish the chips are good although the aioli dip is perfectly creamy and garlicky.

We have eaten more than enough food, and I don’t know whether we should feel accomplished or greedy for finishing both pizzas, so there is no room for any more. It is safe to say the food we ordered was a triumph.

But perhaps even more enjoyable was the sense of escapism for an evening, where we were treated to an enjoyable experience without having to think about our lives in the context of a pandemic.

Soprano’s, Palmerston Road, Southsea

Tel: (023) 9281 1139

Food: 5/5

Value: 4/5

Ambience: 5/5

Child-friendly: 3/5