Dining Out: The welcome return of an old favourite

La Lucerna, Kettering
La Lucerna, Kettering

Anyone who has lived in Kettering for a number of years will remember, with fondness, La Lucerna in Rockingham Road.

The old La Lucerna used to be in what is now Beradi, but the name has re-appeared at what used to be Ristorante Azzurri – are you keeping up?

The new La Lucerna is run by Rita, a sister of the former owner Tony. The room is much larger than the old premises so it has lost some of the atmosphere but it is tastefully decorated with wallpaper of famous Italian churches and pictures of the owner as a young child in Italy.

Those of you with really long memories will probably recognise a lot of what is on the menu as well, and I’m happy to report the food is as good as I remember.

My parents were visiting before heading off on their next holiday – they’re busy spending my inheritance – and fancying a night off from cooking we headed out to La Lucerna.

The restaurant was fairly quiet the night we were there. but they seemed to be doing a brisk trade in takeaways. Although there were only a handful of customers we never felt rushed or as though the staff wanted us to leave.

We decided we didn’t want to have starters so went for three tapas-style dishes to share. We chose bruschetta, which I love, Italian meatballs and an Italian omelette with onions and Italian sausage. I’m not a big omelette fan but this was probably my favourite of the the three. Dad and Ade said they preferred the meatballs, but we all agreed the dishes were tasty and just the right size to whet our appetites for the main course, as well as being excellent value at £11.50 for the three.

My mum didn’t know what to choose so went for a dish she buys regularly from M&S – tagliatella matriciana (£7.75). She said the sauce of mushrooms, ham, cheese and cream was delicious and better than M&S, which I decided was praise indeed.

Dad went for a folded pizza, calzone (£7.75), filled with tomatoes, cheese, ham and pepperoni, and said that although he’d enjoyed it there was too much pepperoni for his taste.

Ade went for the pizza that he recalls always ordering in the past – special pizza Lucerna (£8.25). The restaurant has a proper pizza oven and the thin-crust pizza was generously topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, ham, peppers, pepperoni, olives and anchovies. Ade said the base was delicious and not at all stodgy and there was just the right amount of topping with no one ingredient overpowering another.

I nearly always choose a pasta dish which has prawns in it, as I love them, but this time I decided to try the pasta del giardino (£7.75), which came with a sauce made of garlic, tomatoes, carrots, onions, courgette, peas and fresh basil.

Having dithered for ages over my choice I was pleased I had plumped for something different. The sauce was deliciously fresh-tasting and made a lovely change, and I resolved to be more adventurous with my choices in the future.

La Lucerna is a friendly local restaurant. The food comes in generous portions and the waiter was patient as we mangled the Italian language when ordering.

It’s the kind of place that you immediately feel at home in and one that you feel you’d be happy to eat at every week. There’s certainly plenty of choice now I know there is a world of pasta sauces that doesn’t involve prawns.

Welcome back La Lucerna.

VALUE Excellent

FOOD Very tasty

SERVICE Friendly

DISABLED ACCESS Yes

PARKING There is a supermarket opposite

COST OF OUR MEAL

FINAL TOTAL: £43 without drinks

Janet’s star rating: 8/10

La Lucerna

26-28 Rockingham Road

Kettering

NN16 8JS

Telephone: 01536 511333