There’s something a little incongruous about the sight of That’s Amore, situated behind a bus stop in the middle of a small precinct of shop-fronts in the residential hinterland between Chapel Allerton and Meanwood.
It isn’t necessarily the place you’d expect to find some of the best pizza and pasta in Leeds, home-made and prepared in front of you, along with fresh coffee, salads and pastries.
Happily, especially for Little Oliver, who lives nearby, this is precisely what is on offer here, and for prices that will leave your wallet feeling like it has got away with murder.
Ostensibly a takeaway and espresso bar, it seems like That’s Amore is set up primarily for takeaways and deliveries. There are only a smattering of places to sit down and very little floor space.
But all its wares are available on the eat-in menu, and on a quiet Tuesday lunchtime it’s enjoyable to sit at one of the wooden tables looking out at the comings and goings on Stainbeck Road.
Passing by, with regret, the arrancini deep-fried rice balls and caprese salad to stay in budget, we go straight in for pizza and pasta, noting approvingly that the owners have stuck to tried and trusted Italian classics and not taken any liberties with tradition.
It’s always fun to see the chef, who also doubles as the waiter, expertly twirling the pizza dough in his fingers before putting it in the oven in front of our eyes.
When it arrives, the Quatro Staggioni’s thin, crispy base, generously topped with artichokes, olives, mushroom and ham, is exactly what we had hoped for. And at just £6.95, you’d struggle to get better value locally.
My cannelloni had a rich flavoursome tomato sauce, bubbling away in the terracotta serving bowl as it is brought to the table, with a crispy bechamel and parmesan topping. The ricotta and spinach filling ensures the whole dish is packed with flavour.
Service is what you might describe as ‘unhurried’, and it takes a few minutes to get the cook’s attention to secure a dessert.
Having a little time to look around, Oliver spots a few nice personal touches, all in keeping with the home-made, non-corporate feel of the place.
For dessert, we opt for three perfectly formed profiteroles, made from a light choux pastry and smothered in a generous blanket of thick milk chocolate sauce.
The bill, when it arrives, is another nice surprise. Just £19.60 for a pizza, pasta, dessert, a cappucino and a San Pelligrino from the fridge.
It’s the kind of place that makes you regret not having discovered it sooner, and we resolve to come again soon.
97 Stainbeck Road, Leeds LS7 2PR
Telephone: 0113 3454434