Livin' Italy Leeds review: I tried this Italian restaurant in Granary Wharf and one dish was unreal

The Dark Arches in Leeds hasn’t half changed over the past decade or so. Where once there were a few hippy style shops and a musty smell, now there is plethora of smart restaurants and swanky hotels.
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Among these impressive establishments is Livin’ Italy. Although it was a bit nippy to take advantage of the outdoor seating on this occasion, the upper floor offers excellent views over the wharf itself – if you can peek around the actual moped that’s in the front of the window.

But you’d be a fool to just gawp at the outside world when there’s so much other good stuff to take in. The décor is more Italian than Giovanni from Strictly wearing a Moschino jacket with a pizza in one hand and the keys to a Fiat 500 in the other; rustic but contemporary with wooden tables, scatter cushions and paintings of lemons.

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We are shown to a cosy table for two but – horror of horrors, for someone with a dodgy back – the chair is of the wooden variety. No problem, we’re told, and it’s swapped straight away for a more comfortable one. It’s a good start.

Our reviewer tried Livin' Italy in Granary Wharf, Leeds (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)Our reviewer tried Livin' Italy in Granary Wharf, Leeds (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)
Our reviewer tried Livin' Italy in Granary Wharf, Leeds (Photo by Bruce Rollinson/National World)

As a journalist, the fact the menu is printed in a newspaper style is a nice touch. As is the fact that this is so much more than your average offering – sure, there’s pizza and pasta but there’s also an array of antipasti and street food as well as meat, fish and vegan dishes.

We decide to share a focaccia Puglise with garlic tomato sauce to start with – it’s warm, handmade bread that’s baked on site that is served on a rustic board with a rich and satisfying fresh tomato sauce and there’s an unseemly tussle over the last piece.

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Thankfully, there’s no such argy-bargy over the main courses. My guest decided to indulge his recently found love of seafood and chose the fresh crab meat pici – hand-rolled fresh spaghetti with crab meat that’s been flambeed in brandy, red onions, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

It’s a robust dish that has just a small kick from the fresh chilli that’s is present in the background but doesn’t overpower the crab itself.

Our reviewer tried to cappuchio cabbageOur reviewer tried to cappuchio cabbage
Our reviewer tried to cappuchio cabbage

I’ve been vegetarian for decades and wouldn’t have normally thought to look under the meat and fish section. However, I am ridiculously glad I did because that’s where I discovered the cappuccio cabbage.

Nestled on the menu between a Sicilian classic Spada steak and a slow-roasted belly pork porchetta is this utter vegan delight. It’s chargrilled slices of hispi cabbage – that’s the sweeter, pointy variety – served with vegan ‘Nduja and pumpkin seeds on a carrot cream. 

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It even comes with a pot of garlic and rosemary potatoes, which prompts the second squabble of the day over the last one. It’s an epiphany – who knew the humble cabbage could taste so incredible? And be the star of such a beautifully presented dish?

This momentous experience is rounded off with a wonderfully light cheesecake for Himself and an espresso for me. 

It's not particularly cheap - our bill came to £66 and we only had a Diet Coke each to drink - it is exceptionally good quality with prompt, friendly service in sumptuous surroundings. 

For a restaurant whose slogan is ‘Live Life More Italian’, they have two converts right here.

Fact file

Address: Granary Wharf, Wharf Approach, Leeds LS1 4BR 

Tel: 0113 243 0090

Open: Mon-Thurs noon-11.30pm; Fri noon-12.30am; Sat 10am-12.30am; Sun 10am 10.30pm.


Food: 10

Atmosphere: 9

Service: 9

Value: 7

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