As Italian restaurant addicts, the imposing white façade, pillars, and appearance of happy diners sipping red wine through the windows convinced us that this would be a safe bet. What we didn’t take into account was that our decision was probably marred by our situation; that of trudging through drizzling York, in the throws of dizzying hunger, contemplating our own stupidity for not booking into a desired restaurant on a Saturday night. Therefore the mock Italian support team standing awkward and laden with flyers managed to convince us that the grandiose exterior housed food that would be the answer to our praying stomachs.
To start we ordered antipasti, the cream of the Italian crop. Our mouths were wet with anticipation of salty cheese and succulent olives snuggling beside sheaves of salami and prosciutto. Our thirst however remained unquenched, as our waiter seemed to have forgotten to bring the wine. We politely reminded said waiter of the wine, and went back to anticipating the main event.
There are no words to describe what appeared in front of us. Lying limp and sad on a plate no bigger than my hand, were scattered four yellowing leaves of lettuce, one slice of fatty salami, a sister slice of the processed monstrosity that is mortadella, a hunk of cheese masquerading as pecorino but not even having the decency to be parmigiano, and the pièce de résistance; a generous slab of celery. Worst of all, the wine had still not turned up.
We decided not to indulge in this ‘feast’, which at almost £8 was ridiculously overpriced. For the first time in my life I sent food back to the kitchen. And so we remained, without food or wine, in a restaurant. After gazing around at the plates appearing from the kitchen – chunks of meat drowning in a sauce already forming a film, nestled close to soggy and uninspiring vegetables and Calzoni that appeared looming, stodgy, and tasteless as judged by the look on the recipient’s face, we opted for pizza. Boring I know, but hopefully not too difficult to mess up. In general the menu was disappointing, distinctly lacking anything memorable with basic pasta dishes being upwards of £10.
The pizza appeared, the wine appeared, and for a while we were happy. The atmosphere was made even more enjoyable by the dulcet tones of the burly head waiter attempting to convince a lady behind us that ‘a side of your choice’ as written on the menu actually meant of the kitchen’s choosing, and our exquisitely chosen background music continued for a good twenty minutes.
I ordered fungi pizza from the ‘cheap’ menu, and so I can’t really complain about its lack of flavour, texture, or porcini mushrooms. It came to embody the whole experience within the restaurant. Do not go to La Vecchia Scuola. Italian restaurants should be about mouth watering flavours, unending hospitality, the constant cry of mangiare, and soul; none of these traits were present. I repeat, do not go La Vecchia Scuola.