Reviews

COMPASS, WESSEX.,
26 September 2011
Review published on September 200 in Compass, Wessex.
 
Original View this revie (PDF)
Daily Echo., 22 June 2011
Perfect tribute to old Franco magic
 
EVERYONE knows La Margherita in Southampton, don’t they? It’s been an icon in the city for almost 40 years, first in Commercial Road and more lately at Town Quay.Superb food, lively welcoming atmosphere, genial host. Who doesn’t know Nikos? But even with all that well-deserved reputation, time doesn’t stand still even for a venue such as La Margherita. Which is why owner Nikos Raftopoulos has completely reinvented his restaurant once again. “We wanted to do something even though these are difficult times,” Nikos said, shortly after his dramatic newlook restaurant was revealed to customers.“I felt we needed to say to people that La Margherita is here and still offering the best Italian food.” In fact, although the restaurant has
changed its look substantially, its menu is a step backwards to an age that Nikos feels takes diners back to a time when good Italian food was simply cooked, well presented, and yes, a real delight. “I have looked and looked again at all my old menus and those of Franco – many of them handwritten – and decided which dishes to bring back,” he explained. His reference to Franco, of course, is deliberate. Franco Fantini, the much-loved and much-missed founder of La Margherita, passed away two years ago.
 
In many ways the changes to La Margherita are a living tribute to Franco from Nikos, and not just the food. The decor and renovations, superbly modern and striking in many ways, are topped off by the subtle addition of Franco’s famous signature on the entrance doors themselves. The menu includes some old favourites that many of La Margherita’s loyal clientele will recall from times old and not so: Pizza Sophia Loren, Pizza Al Capone, Boat Show Pasta with its marvellous calamari, mussels and
prawns, Tagliatelle Salmon, and the gorgeous Spaghetti da Moglia with chicken strips and sun-dried tomatoes. The La Margherita classics are there – Saltinbocca alla Romana with its pan-fried veal flambéed in Marsala wine. Coscioto D’Agnelo
Brasato – succulent lamb shank with garlic mash. The decor is crisper and brighter than before, the views of the harbour are exaggerated and a window seat is one of the best places to wine and dine someone special. The bar area has been completely transformed, not so much a nightclub, more a modern Mediterranean-style venue. And the conservatory has been covered to create a beautiful new setting. Is it all that Nikos wanted? It certainly seemed that way when at a recent informal gathering to launch the changes he was as always the genial and generous host. Certainly guests tucking into the marvellous food merging on heaped platefuls from the kitchen had nothing but praise – raved in fact – for the dishes. La Margherita: 023 8033 3390.

Original link
By Simon Carr., 30 March 2011 STUNNING. That is the only way to describe the experience of dining out at La Margherita.

It is good to see top restaurants in Hampshire forging ahead and creating dishes and an atmosphere that will delight locals and attract foodies from outside the area.

The eatery has been part of Southampton for almost 40-years and many remember it from the days it enjoyed a thriving trade opposite the Mayflower theatre in the heart of town.

Now it occupies a prime location at Town Quay with views over the water, still only a short walk from the city. A recent stylish refurbishment allows more of a separation between the lively bar and the relaxing atmosphere of the restaurant.

The selection of olives and garlic bread with mozzarella were delicious and a positive signs of things to come. The starters were immediately impressive in appearance, diversity and, I was pleased to see, quantity.

I went for the antipasta – a plate of cured meats and fine cheese, salami, mortadela and Parma ham with baby mozzarella and parmesan accompanied by olives and roast peppers.

My companions seemed to be loving their meals so I insisted on trying them. The formaggi di capra was delicious with the strong grilled goats cheese set off with caramelised onions on a bread base with green leaves.

My other friend was sampling the rich and flavoursome fungi di bosco, wild mushrooms in a creamy white wine and garlic sauce.

For the main dish we all went for steak, two fillets and a rump. Asking for no sauces to accompany them, any imperfections in quality or preparation would have been easy to spot.

However, I was pleased to find these were among the finest steaks I have had in the city.

To accompany these impressive slabs of meat we had perfectly cooked spaghetti, sauteed potatoes, sauteed spinach and courgette and garlic mushrooms – some of these dishes arising from the menu’s pledge that if you can’t find what you want the restaurant will make it for you if possible.

Another sign of the restaurant’s quality was the seared and seasoned spinach leaves which were tasty and had not been reduced to green mush as it often the case.

Following the main I was barely able to lift my fork but my two companions did both have a desert from the extensive collection on offer.

I satisfied myself with a few glasses of fine red wine, another aspect the restaurant evidently prides itself on.

With a few drinks each the three- person feast I have just mentioned would set you back about £100.

However, with some of the less expensive options on the menu La Margherita does not have to be rare treat and it is possible to get a starter and a main for under £15.

Original link
   
Williams S.L., 04 Nov 2010

Dear Vangelis

I would just like to say thank you for all your help with our meal last
night. We all had a great evening and are very much looking forward to
returning to La Margarita soon!

- Sarah

   
Jayne O'Braein, MTA Secretary, 16th September 2010

Hi La Margherita

I just wanted to say what a fantastic night we had last night.  Thank you for looking after us, we were looked after so well, the food was excellent and service etc was brilliant.  Please convey our thanks to all your staff who worked so hard to make sure everything went smoothly.

Our guests also expressed their thanks for such a great party.We will certainly be back next year.  Please can you pencil us in for the Tuesday evening of the boat show next year.

 

Kind regards

Jayne O’Brien

MTA Secretary

   

BENETEAU (Sonia Nevot), 16th September 2010
To La Margherita,

The Beneteau Dealers party was a great success yesterday evening, every
body enjoy the party and dinner.

We would like to thank again,  all your staff and management, for your
organization and service.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Sonia Nevot
BENETEAU
   

Compass, November 10th, 2009

LA MARGHERITA

La Margherita sits on Southampton Quay next to the Red Funnel depot. 
From the conservatory you can see the ferries and yachts come and go, and it’s very well placed for the Boat Show. There are plastic roses on the tables and everyone gets a nice paper napkin.
There is a two-section menu split between pizzeria and à la carte, and there is a short wine list of about 20 bins which is mainly Italian. You can choose to sit in the conservatory for light, or the dining room which is in the back of the restaurant for atmosphere. 
Our prawn starter saw four prawns skewered on cocktail sticks, wrapped in bacon and buried in a sauce made from peppers and tomatoes then topped with deep-fried parsnips. It was smoky.
The scallops were probably the best starter. Fried scallops, rocket, pan juices. Keeping things simple is always a good thing.
The antipasto contained a giant artichoke which we liked, Italian ham and salami which we were OK with, then slices of French bread and mortadella which we were not sure about.
Main course of mixed fish was generous for £18, including large prawns, sea bass and several other fish. The salmon was perhaps out of place, but it was a big portion.
Monk fish wrapped in bacon was pleasant. It came with pieces of fried polenta, cream and thyme sauce and more deep-fried parsnips.
My rump steak was the best thing on offer. The biggest steak I have seen in some time, it came with some meaty mushrooms and caramelised onions. 
It was well seasoned and well cooked. We ended up splitting it three ways. You also get chips, by the way.
The tiramisu was as you’d expect – I’m sure you don’t need me to describe it. Eddy, the manager, who is a lovely guy and took very good care of us, made our zabaglione at the table. In a copper bowl he furiously whisked egg yolks, sugar and a suspiciously pale Marsala wine for a minute or so, then poured the mixture into sundae glassed with a small scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce.
La Marghreta does as good a job of Anglo-Italian food as anywhere, and if you want to pop in for a pizza after a hard days yachting, I’m sure it will out perform many of the chains in the town centre. And it does do a very good rump steak.

   

By Lucy Clark, Daily Echo ( Wednesday 1st April 2009 )

COSY dining, relaxed drinking, celebrations, or a night of partying.

Whatever you’re after, La Margherita has something for everyone.

The long-established Southampton restaurant and bar has built up a top reputation – not only for its excellent homecooked food, but also for its value for money, waterfront views and friendly atmosphere.

But La Margherita’s fantastic menu is its number one pulling point. With everything made from scratch, the quality of the food is top notch.

My dining partner and I visited on a mid-week night.

Over a beer and an appetiser of fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, we spent a good 20 minutes choosing from the mouth-watering pizzeria and a la carte menus.

Choice is everything – you can spend as little as £10 a head for a good meal.

For starters, we chose a tomato and mozzarella salad along with antipasto, a selection of cold meats served with olives, peppers and artichokes. They arrived promptly and were fresh, well presented and perfect for sharing.

We then took the traditional Italian route – on the recommendation of the Italian waiter – and had a small pasta course before embarking on the main course.

I chose the dish named Boat Show – spaghetti with seafood in a tomato sauce. The seafood was delicious, including fresh mussels, prawns, calamari and a huge king prawn. My friend plumped for pasta with Italian sausage.

Considering the amount we had already eaten, the attentive waiting staff gave us a wellearned break before serving our main courses.

And it was worth the wait. My Pollo del Padrone – chicken breast stuffed with Parma ham, spinach and pesto and served with tagliatelle – was extremely tasty, with the spinach really complementing the salty Parma ham.

My partner’s enormous salmon steak, served on asparagus and potatoes, was, I was informed several times, “beautiful”.

Our meal was also accompanied with a bottle of Fazi Battaglia Italian white wine, an easy-drinking perfect match for both my chicken and my partner’s salmon.

Refusing to leave it there, I couldn’t resist one of the tempting desserts. I had the Dolce Alla Banana Carmellata, a biscuit base with bananas, caramel, cream and chocolate on top – pure decadence!

My (far more sensible) partner finished his meal with an Irish coffee.

As we left, shortly after 10pm, the party atmosphere was only just beginning – but sadly it was a school night for us.

   

Daily Echo, FRIDAY, 4 MARCH 2005

La Margherita, Town Quay

LA Margherita is a stylish Italian restaurant set in the plush surroundings of Town Quay in Southampton.

Boasting a warm, fashionable contemporary interior and a vibrant menu, my fiance and I visited the restaurant on a quiet Monday evening with the aim of enjoying just a light meal and a couple of drinks.

Serenaded by the delightful background music of an American jazz singer, we plumped for a tasty main course and soft drinks. I ordered the New York Caesar salad, while my fiancee opted for the Penne Cacciatora.

My salad was presented in a traditional Italian bowl dressed in large lettuce leaves. There was plenty of warm, grilled chicken to accompany the salad, croutons and parmesan dressing, though the meat was a little on the tough side. Still this didn't ruin what proved to be a very generous and filling meal.

My fiancee's pasta looked both plentiful and divine. Cooked in a delicious tomato sauce with lashings of herbs, there wasn't a single helping of penne pasta left, while the accompanying chicken was beautifully tender!

The total bill, including two soft drinks came to just a few pence shy of £20.

If you fancy a relaxing evening with good food and drink then La Margherita ticks all the boxes.

Its menu is broad and appealing, its staff delightful and attentive, and its décor charming and refined.

La Margherita,1 Town Quay, Southampton. Reservations: 023 8033 3390