Dining out: Sotto Pizzeria, Whitegate Drive, Blackpool

Sotto Pizzeria
Sotto Pizzeria
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The December festivities mean by January many folk have had enough of eating out and drinking more than is good for them.

It's the time of year to take advantage of the Netflix special offer and hunker down until the nights become a bit lighter.

Rigatoni con salsiccia

Rigatoni con salsiccia

But for those who do still want to venture beyond their front door, there is plenty of reason to pull on your big coat and reconnect with the outside world.

Among those reasons is a relatively new Italian restaurant on a part of Whitegate Drive in Blackpool which has seen a surge of investment of late.

Sotto which opened around six months ago is a sister restaurant to Amaro in St John's Square in the town centre.

We had not booked a table (bookings are not taken for two people), but were quickly seated and presented with menus on arrival.

Calamari fritti

Calamari fritti

There was already a lively buzz around the place which was filled with families and groups of friends as well as couples.

The interior has been tastefully decorated with a mixture of tables and booths creating an intimate atmosphere without diners feeling they are on top of each other.

While perusing the menus we ordered a bottle of the house red, an Italian merlot at 12 per cent volume, plus a jug of water.

There is a good selection of pizza and pasta as well as a specials board to select from.

Mozzarella

Mozzarella

The garlic bread had been recommended to us by friends (as the best they'd ever tasted!), so we ordered some of that along with starters of mozzarella in carozza for my husband Clive, and calamari fritti for me.

Other choices include mushrooms in a Stilton sauce and bruschetta with fresh chopped tomato.

Both appetizers were full of flavour, and my calamari served with garlic mayonnaise was plentiful but not too filling, deep fried but crispy.

And yes, the garlic bread was excellent.

The restaurant boasts wood fired pizza and though on this occasion we did not sample the pizza selection, those we saw being brought out to other diners certainly looked very tempting.

I opted instead to try Sotto's version of a personal favourite of mine, which is pasta with sausage - or rigatoni con salsiccia to give it its official title.

This one came with a bit of a kick, with spicy Italian sausage and a chilli sauce, complemented with ricotta cheese and shaved parmesan.

Clive chose his main course from the specials board, and was served a delicious portion of sea bass artfully placed over small roast potatoes and neat vegetables.

He cleared his plate so certainly enjoyed his meal.

Vegetarian options on the menu include a Mediterranean vegetable based pizza, and porcini mushroom pasta, plus ravioli with ricotta cheese and spinach which is another favourite of mine.

Meanwhile pizza bianca comes with ricotta, spinach and walnuts - the latter being a new one on me as a pizza topping.

Service throughout our meal was friendly and efficient - with waiters dashing past delivering drinks and dishes to tables around the restaurant true to form for any busy Italian.

For anyone looking for an edge-of-town centre restaurant, Sotto is a welcome addition to Blackpool's eating out scene.

It comes as the area has also seen recent investment in other businesses, including the new wine bar at the Number 3 pub if you fancy an aperitif.

Our total bill, including drinks, came to £57.