Sitting above the busy Pizzeria Villagio at 73B Merthyr Road – hence the name – Sopra 73 brings Italian-French flair to Whitchurch Village. The kitchen is run by Padrig (Paj) Jones, a Cardiff hospitality legend previously stationed in some of the city’s most fondly remembered restaurants, while front of house is the renowned Francis Dupuy.
Sopra 73 describe themselves as “serving delicious, locally-sourced Welsh/Italian/French produce,” and Francis’ love of wine means the list here is already one of the city’s most renowned, roaming across Europe and beyond with inimitable tasting notes (“I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you told me this was a Barolo or Barbaresco…”). The menu promises big, indulgent classics – cassoulet, scallops, rabbit cacciatore – with more eye-catching dishes: bouillabaisse, or lemon sole with cockle and parsley butter, laverbread mash and samphire.
Brixham scallops are expertly done, a faint crust giving way to a sweet, translucent heart. The breaded cubes of belly pork are exemplary, crisp yet seductively tender. From the set lunch menu (two courses for £20), liver and onions appeals. It is an easy thing to mess up: for some, it stands for everything that was wrong with a generation’s school dinners. In Sopra’s hands it becomes a treat, a thick rasher of ‘proper’ bacon topping three thick slices of liver, cooked tenderly; a silky and indulgent mash reminds you just how good it can be, dressed with a devilled sauce with body and depth that doesn’t overwhelm the rich offal tang. This is cooking that makes you feel right at home.
Sopra 73 is somewhere that understands what people want from their local restaurant and wants to feed them, heartily and with flair. It feels impossible to leave without feeling very well-fed and looked after, and you should treat yourself to a visit soon.
Sopra 73, 73B Merthyr Rd, Cardiff. Info: 029 2061 1222 / sopra73.com
words JONATHAN SWAIN
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