Those of you have read my blog for a while will know that I’m a sucker for Italian food, particularly when it’s served in Italy. It’s not that I’m snobbish about my destination at all, but I think there’s often something missing from the dishes in Italian restaurants that you find anywhere else. It’s a bit of a problem considering that when I eat out in Scotland, I usually choose restaurants in Loch Lomond. Maybe it’s something in the air or just the fact I love visiting their wonderful boot-shaped country, I’m not sure. So discovering an Italian restaurant that actually serves great food exactly three streets away from me is positively fantastico!
Cucina is a tiny little restaurant sitting opposite a local nightclub, and just minutes away from attractions like Lomond Shores shopping complex and The Maid of the Loch. It’s on Balloch Road, the main street through the village, and pretty easy to find. For me, it was one of those places I kept saying ‘I must go in there one day’ about, and when I finally did I could have kicked myself for not going in sooner.
Inside, it’s very well decorated and modern, with a long mirror giving the welcome impression that it’s somehow larger than it is, and with a menu that’s as authentically Italian as you expect to get in Scotland. Sure, it’s still missing that real Italian ambiance. There aren’t any dusty wine carafes stuffed with dripping candles in the centre of the tables here, not like you get in any decent back-street trattoria in Venice. And none of their expensive faux-leather chairs wobble on an uneven Italian tiled floor while you’re trying to cut your carni, but this tiny restaurant in Loch Lomond is good nevertheless.
They’ve kept the menu simple and stuck to the classics, doing them really well – ariabiatta, lasagne and my favourite, Gamberetti Olio Rucola (king prawns in garlic and rocket). They have a nice selection of wines, all carefully chosen and obviously Italian, and some excellent set menus to take the hassle out of choosing.
If you want to get a table here over a weekend then I have to recommend that you book in advance. You see, the secret is out about this little Italian restaurant in Loch Lomond, so getting a table here means you might have competition on your hands.
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