Ask Italian, Scarborough: Pasta la vista, baby!

Carne sourdough pizza at Ask Italian, Scarborough
Carne sourdough pizza at Ask Italian, Scarborough

I suppose there might be some eating places somewhere – the Dales, Scottish Highlands, Cornish coast, wherever – that, because they have such a fabulous, gasp-inducing location, could get away with serving just about any old tripe.

In fact, thinking about it, I did go to one once, a restaurant-cum-transport caff in the Lakes. My steak (it wasn’t tripe) was like shoe leather, but the view of Windermere was ace.

Overlooking the harbour, with a vista that stretches across the South Bay and over towards Cayton Bay and Filey, Scarborough’s Ask has what must be one of the best restaurant locations on this coast.

And it, too, doesn’t serve tripe. Its Italian food is decent, well-prepared fare, and if it might occasionally be on the boring side there’s always that view. Pasta la vista, indeed.

On a midweek early evening our party of six – birthday celebration (18th, but the just-turned-adult partying came on a different night) – we were shown to a table upstairs, and drinks orders taken.

The restaurant is spotlessly clean, although a little clinical and sparse of furnishings. The staff were friendly and efficient, starting off with supplying large jugs of water as well as our ordered drinks.

As the evening progressed more and more people arrived, and all were seated near us – five or six tables’ worth by the time we left. The other end of the upstairs was left empty – if we’d have been a boat in the harbour we’d have capsized.

Our choices of starters included garlic bread with mozzarella, which was a bit short on the cheese, and a very tasty Sicilian Arancini – golden crumbed risotto balls made with spinach, goat’s cheese and mushrooms.

The Quattro Funghi Bruschetta – toasted pagnotta bread topped with mushrooms and cheese – was also excellent.

Nowadays it can be difficult in some places to order a pizza: there’s a multitude of bases, crusts, toppings, extras and Uncle Tom Cobleys to contend with. Ask keeps it fairly simple with options of sourdough, prima and classic ranges, each with a handful of choices. Same for the pasta – one thing I like about Ask is the menu isn’t massive but it is wide-ranging in its types of food and flavours.

The best of the mains choices were a Carne sourdough pizza, which featured Luganica sausage, pork and beef ragu and good dollops of spinach (main picture), a similar pizza with rump steak topping, and a classic Stromboli of pepperoni on a tomato and mozzarella base. All were good-sized and packed with taste. Not so good was the penne al pollo – the chicken, mushrooms and pasta dish was quite dry and bland.

Our one dessert choice was a triumph – honeycomb cheesecake. There are plenty of other fine-sounding puds, and this one was lip-smackingly gorgeous.

The bill for a party of six isn’t going to be cheap anywhere, but Ask does seem on the pricey side – £12.95 for the Carne, £10.55 for the pasta, for example. Good value? The jury’s out ... but the view’s ace. And better than Windermere.

Overall Rating: 7