Over the weekend we were blessed with blue skies and abundant sunshine. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine you were in Italy. It was also April Fools’ so I cheekily pranked my friends with the news that I was moving to Italy! Ha, hook, line and sinker. With Italy very much on my mind this week, it was the perfect excuse to take up an invitation to review Strada, a high street Italian restaurant. They have also just launched Pizza Mondays, pizza for £5 every Monday from 12pm!
Whilst at university and way before my affection for Italy began, Strada was a restaurant I visited regularly. Just like Cafe Rouge, it was a place I would take advantage of the 2-for-1 vouchers and 50% deals. To be honest, once I left university my love for food kept growing and I seeked more interesting places.
There are two Stradas in central Birmingham, one in the ICC and one in the Mailbox. My friend and I paid a visit to the Mailbox location for a girly catch up. The Mailbox has been featured on the blog before, there are lots of restaurants and Strada is positioned inside the main building and not outside.
We went for lunch at 3pm on a Sunday, it’s a great time to visit, it’s not too busy, you can gossip away and you are not rushed out. When we arrived we were invited to choose where we wanted to sit and they appeared to offer this to everyone that came in after us. As with Italian tradition, we started the meal with an aperitivo; somewhat a palate stimulator, it gets you in the mood for food.
I started off with an Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco and soda) and my friend had a Berry Spritz (Crème de Mure liqueur, Prosecco and fresh apple juice). I love an Aperol Spritz and I’ve had many, Strada’s version is perfect and not stingy on the Prosecco. The Berry Spritz on the over hand was far too sweet and not enough fizz for what is commonly a light and refreshing drink.
For starters we decided to share a few of the most popular dishes. We settled on the Antipasti Board which consisted of prosciuto, salami Napoli, mortadella, spinata picante, baby mozzarella, semi dried tomatoes, avocado, olives and bread. It’s really hard to find fault in an antipasti board and Strada got it right with a good selection of common Italian nibbles. A decent selection for only £6.45.
We also tried the Seared King Prawns and the Crispy Squid. Neither were particularly expensive and for the price they were as expected, squid with cripsy batter dusted with paprika (sans lemon) and shell-on prawns in a tasty chilli, parsley, garlic and tomato broth. Both good value for money and tasty.
For our main course we both went for pizza, I chose the Fiorentina, a bianca base veggie pizza topped with mozzarella, grilled tender stem broccoli, spinach and a soft boiled egg, I topped it up with ‘nduja a spicy Calabrian meat paste. With or without the ‘nduja I loved the white base pizza and the gooey egg in the middle made my day! Thank goodness it wasn’t overcooked! The only passing remark is the presentation, I love spinach but I’m really not sure that much spinach is necessary. It just looked messy.
My friend went for the Margherita and fully customised it with her favourite ingredients; olives, prosciutto and Luganica sausage.
We washed down our mains with a couple more drinks, a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and an Elderflower Spritz (St Germain liqueur, Prosecco and Limonata). A meaty and savoury red wine, supple fine tannins, plum and cocoa, a nice match for the spicy meat on my pizza. The elderflower fizz was very refreshing and just perfect. I could easily drink a couple of these and watch the world go by.
By this point we are almost 2 hours into our late lunch, mainly because we wouldn’t stop talking! We order the Golden Polenta Cake, drizzled with runny honey, and topped with a dollop of combined whipped cream and crème fraiche and finished with lemon thyme. I love polenta cake and was very happy with this interpretation of one my favourite cakes.
The meal was good, the service faultless and the drinks perfect! If you are looking for somewhere to grab a bargain lunch or dinner, head down to a Strada for Pizza Mondays! Pizza for £5, cheers! The offer is available throughout the UK and includes London!
Strada invited me to the restaurant to review. As always, my writing and my honest views.
Strada, The Mailbox, 109-111 Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 1XL