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  • timbarber

Delicious home-made pasta and Calabrese food in the heart of Ilkley

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Over the years I had been a few times to the little village of Ben Rhydding just outside Ilkley, to a small, homely restaurant called Pranzo. Its reputation had grown by word of mouth and two years later they opened another Pranzo in Harrogate.


Pranzo’s success to date has been based on their delicious home-made Calabrese food and home made pasta.  With its growing popularity, it has led to a move from Ben Rhydding into the heart of Ilkley allowing it to double its capacity.


I was delighted to be invited along after its opening to meet the owner and head chef Marco Greco and Operations Director Stephen Peace to find out more about Pranzo and sample a few of the most popular dishes.


The new Ilkley Pranzo is in the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill store in the Moors Shopping centre. The owners have taken great care to ensure its ambiance is similar to the original restaurant which had exposed brick walls, chalk boards and interesting artworks.


Chatting to Marco, he explained how his cookery is inspired by his Nonna and with his family originating from the Calabria area of Southern Italy, most of Pranzo’s menu is influenced by food from this particular region.

Stephen explained about the challenges they had surviving during the pandemic and how he and Marco would be making pasta dishes each morning to home deliver to local residents. Marco added how he and the team still make the fresh, home-made pasta each morning which make up the bulk of the Calabrese menu dishes.


Calabrian dishes are famous for their intense flavours with some quite spicy dishes on most menus. This is something that I can vouch for having sampled some wonderful flavoursome dishes. Marco talked about Calabrian’s love of spicy food and how he has taken traditional recipes but adapted them to give a more modern twist to his menu.


There are always a couple of fish dishes on the menu as well as other specials, but it is the pasta that I have usually been drawn to.


One of my wife’s favourite dishes is the Mafalde with shin beef ragu,  which has been braised for over 4 hours with added parmesan. It is a real treat and Stephen explained it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and all the beef is all sourced locally. Mafalde is a wider ribbon shaped pasta which works really well with ragu as it holds the sauce so well on its wavy surface.


My favourite dish is the Lobster and King Prawn ravioli. The lobster, cream and parsley sauce which it is served with is extremely rich and full of flavour. It looks great too!


The menu also contains a couple of bigoli pasta dishes. Bigoli is a bit like spaghetti but thicker and tends to be made with soft wheat flour as opposed to durum wheat semolina.

The seafood bigoli is excellent packed full of mussels, kind prawns, calamari and cherry tomatoes. This was a huge favourite with my daughter when we went in the summer.


There is also a crab bigoli dish and one with smoked pancetta, onions, garlic and chilli.


Pranzo offer a good selection of wines, all sourced from Italian family run vinyards as well as beers and cocktails. But as an ale drinker it was great to see an Italian Pale Ale on the drinks menu. Stephen explained how this is brewed by Harrogate’s Cold Bath Brewing Company situated next to their Harrogate restaurant and how they had worked closely together to get the taste right – for what they call Pranzo Birra.


There are plans for the Pranzo brand to grow with more restaurants opening up over the next 12 months. I don’t think Pranzo will ever become a huge high street chain and hopefully as they expand into other locations they will be able to keep the authenticity, great friendly service and attention to detail which has led to their present success.



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