La Lanterna, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AN - closed
PUBLISHED: 18:26 06 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:17 01 May 2014
One of Reigate's best-loved restaurants, La Lanterna in Bell Street has been serving up delicious Italian dishes for the last 28 years. Surrey Life food critic JOHN HUGHES decided it was high time he paid a visit
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2010
Restaurant review: La Lanterna, 73 Bell Street, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AN
Tel: 01737 245113
Food and drink 9
What we ate
Avocato con Gamberetti £5
Spaghetti Carbonara £4
Vitello Siciliana £11
Filetto alla Lanterna £19.90
Selection of Vegetables £3.50
Chocolate Fudge Gateau £5
Pear and Almond Tart £5
Chianti Classico DOCG £21.50
REVIEW: Although I live in Reigate, I’d somehow managed until recently to avoid the pleasure of dining at La Lanterna – the town’s premier Italian restaurant. Then I was looking for somewhere romantic to feature for this, the month of Valentine’s Day, and lo and behold the ideal venue was right on my doorstep.
My ‘date’ was in fact my daughter, Helen, who was delighted to find the restaurant empty when we first arrived and ripe for some photography, aided by proprietor Tony Marcazzo, who at one stage popped up out of the cellar trapdoor, much to our amusement!
La Lanterna is your classic Italian restaurant – family-run, long-established, with all the key dishes you would expect, a wine list to match, plus a few surprises. The dining area is beamed and traditional and warmly lit, with a façade that is due for a notable facelift in 2010.
What better way to start than with Avocato con Gamberetti – and how much more romantic in Italian than ‘avocado prawns’! It’s easy these days to overlook retro dishes with associations of the ‘tasteless 70s’, but do so at your peril. This was delicious, served on a bed of salad with Mary Rose sauce (or is that Marie Rose – never quite known if there’s a difference).
Meanwhile, Helen chose Spaghetti Carbonara, with its familiar blend of pancetta and smooth cream sauce. All pasta dishes at La Lanterna are available as a starter or a main course.
A signature dish
I asked Tony what he recommended for the main course and he replied without hesitation: “Everything!” But I’d done enough research to know that Vitello Siciliana is pretty much a signature dish – veal cooked in a sweet pepper, brandy and cream sauce – superb flavours, tender meat and complemented by a selection of perfectly cooked fresh vegetables.
Helen, not usually a red meat eater, surprised me by homing in on Filetto alla Lanterna – a fillet of beef served on wild mushrooms and topped with Dolcelatte. I could smell the tangy melted cheese from across the table and managed to pinch a bit. Rather strong for me but no complaints from the rightful owner.
Desserts were a mix and match affair: Chocolate Fudge Gateau and Pear and Almond Tart, with forks flying in every direction, followed by coffee – Tony’s own blend no less, Caffe Dorato.
The wine list, meanwhile, is extensive and unashamedly Italian. I was tempted by a four-year-old Barolo, although eventually settled for a more modest but pleasing Chianti Classico.
All things considered, La Lanterna was probably one of the most enjoyable, fun dining experiences I can remember – and lucky for me that it’s within walking distance of home (just as well after a bottle of Chianti). Ironically, their newest fan (me) happened to be sitting next to a couple of Tony’s longest established regulars. And what an advert for La Lanterna – they’ve been dining there regularly for 27 years!
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