If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, you’ll never go hungry on Church Road in Hove. I haven’t counted recently but nearly every other unit appears to be a restaurant, bar or some combination of both formats, clearly demonstrating that there is buoyant demand for food and drink from around the world.
One such venue – and one that’s been on my list to drop into for a long time – is Pesca, a family-owned and operated Italian trattoria. Co-owners Ed Scothern and Steph Marechal have great provenance as restaurateurs, having steered the ship of Soho’s famous Mele e Pere Italian restaurant in Soho for almost a decade. A couple of years back they decided to set sail for the seaside and Pesca was born.
They’ve nailed the concept of a trattoria – a small, inexpensive restaurant – incredibly well. The spacious restaurant is light and airy with a well-considered use of colour to demarcate spaces. I’m obsessed with sitting at high tables so I can have a good vantage point so I pulled up a stool at the bar for a working lunch with my dining partner in crime.
Now I know not everyone has the pleasure – or indeed the time – to eat lunch out. For most of us – and I include myself in this statement – it’s a supermarket meal deal sandwich with a packet of crisps and a soft drink which isn’t quite as cheap today as it was a year back. So I was immediately drawn to Pesca’s lunch deal – pasta or pizza of the day with a house soft drink, wine or beer for a very reasonable £10. It sounded too good to be true, but it was true and good. Very good.
I opted for a glass of vino and the roasted aubergine pasta; the first mouthful immediately transported me to one of my favourite Sicilian towns, Acireale, where ‘pasta norma’ is always on the menu. Pesca’s take on this classic dish was utterly delicious. A hearty plate of tagliatelle smothered in a deep flavoured tomato and aubergine sauce finished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
In the interests of research, I ordered an additional dish of crispy fried calamari with a chive mayonnaise and lime from the main menu. It was light as a feather – structured without being chewy – and at £8 I’d say darned good value for money too.
As I was now thoroughly enjoying ‘la bella vita’ on a wet Wednesday in early February, I finished with one of my favourite desserts – affogato – that I really wish more restaurants offered for those of us who don’t always want a super sweet or heavy dessert. A scoop of quality vanilla ice cream and shot of espresso was just what I needed to finish lunch and crack on with the rest of my busy working day.
Outside of the £10 main course and drink lunch deal, I’d say Pesca’s a la carte menu will set you back around £20-22 for two courses which for authentic and hearty Italian food in Brighton and Hove can’t be sniffed at. They also have oodles of dishes for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-intolerant diners, meaning everyone can enjoy multiple options without feeling left out. Wines and cocktails are also a couple of quid cheaper than you’ll find at similarly placed restaurants.
Although Pesca’s menu is Italian through and through, their back bar is one of the best celebrations of Sussex spirits and wines that I’ve seen for a very long time. At least half of the drinks are from our fine county – gins from Brighton, Hyke, Mayfield, Bolney, Madame Jennifer, Harley House, Dedbest… the list goes on and on and that’s before I begin on locally produced vermouths and Sussex wines.
I had a quick chat with amiable owner Ed and I can relay he’s not only passionate about food and drink but also supporting the Hove community. He’s currently working on a mini food festival event this summer with neighbouring restaurants to support the local school.
If you’re in the neighbourhood and want to grab an unbeatable lunch at pocket-friendly prices, or a relaxing supper in a bustling bistro, you’ll have to go a long way to beat Pesca’s offering. It’s definitely joined my little black book of Brighton and Hove dining.
Pesca, 60 Church Road, Hove BN3 2FP
01273 096 912 • www.pescatrattoria.co.uk