Sarto, the long-awaited Leeds City Centre pasta restaurant, has just opened in Munro House. Since speaking to Dave Olejnik, Sarto’s co-founder, just before the restaurant opened, I have been looking forward to visiting Leeds’ latest Italian eatery.
I was told Sarto would offer Italian inspired dishes with Yorkshire ingredients, served in a casual dining area suitable for all eating occasions, so it had a lot to live up to.
Thankfully, my first experience at Sarto did not disappoint. I was invited to try a selection of dishes on behalf of Leeds Living as part of a hosted Press event. On arrival, I took my time to take in my surroundings and loved the relaxed feel of the restaurant. The menu, although small, is perfectly formed, with dishes ranging from crispy gnocchi to pumpkin and sage salad. I was intrigued by the creative and modern take on rustic Italian fare.
As I was dining as part of a larger group, we opted to order a selection of dishes to share – just as the Italians would do. To start, we shared plates of refreshingly light heirloom squash salad with mint and almond gremolata, and a flavour-packed tomato and ricotta dish with pomegranate. I enjoyed both and loved being able to share the dishes with others. Up next, we were served Sarto’s pumpkin, sage and taleggio arancini with aioli, which, in my opinion, were some of the best gnocchi this side of Rome – crispy on the outside and soft and cheesy on the inside. I loved the addition of aioli which complimented the flavours of the Italian rice balls.
Whilst we enjoyed the starter plates, we were all excited for the main event – the homemade pasta dishes. We were offered a couple of dishes, both of which were very tasty. The rich lamb rigatoni went down very well with all of us – the pasta was al-dente and held the meaty sauce perfectly. My favourite pasta dish of the night was the pan-fried gnocchi served with a creamy Jerusalem artichoke, nutmeg and thyme sauce. I loved the crispy exterior of the gnocchi and thought the sauce was perfectly seasoned. I would have loved some bread to mop up the extra sauce, but otherwise, I loved the pasta plates.
In addition to the delicious food, Sarto also offers a range of drinks from local producers as well as those from farther afield. The drink selection has been sourced by the guys from The Brunswick, who know their stuff when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Diners can choose from an impressive array, ranging from locally supplied wines to Amstel and Moretti or craft beers from North Brewing Co. For those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, the guys have also sourced a number of soft drinks, suitable for all ages. What’s more, thanks to the restaurant’s link to one of the City’s favourite cafes, diners at Sarto can also enjoy a post-dinner coffee from Laynes.
Beyond the food and drink, the restaurant itself has been carefully designed with an open plan feel. I loved being able to watch the chefs at work whilst chatting and enjoying the food. I also thought the huge floor-to-ceiling windows were a fabulous addition, giving diners the opportunity to watch the world go by.
Combining everything together, Sarto really is a perfect place for enjoying delicious food whilst socialising with friends or family. I am already looking forward to my next visit and am excited to see what new dishes are on offer.
Food photographs by Gemma Bridge. Photograph of interior by JMA Photography.
Gemma, a PhD student at Leeds Beckett University, has been writing for over 6 years, and loves to share what’s going on in and around Leeds. She is also an international athlete, artist and creator of Leeds Food Guide. You can find her on Instagram at: @GLB_racewalk, @GLB_creations or @LeedsFoodGuide