One of Hebden’s smartest restaurants, yet relaxed enough to pop into wearing jeans or trailing your whole family, La Perla is just on the edge of the town centre, easily overlooked; a classic hidden gem. (La Perla translated is actually The Pearl.) It’s not difficult to find, just head to the far side of the carpark which on Wed/Thu becomes Hebden Bridge market. If you find our beloved hardware store, Bonsall’s, you’re almost there.
This restaurant has enough space to seat large groups but is arranged so that even on quiet nights it feels cosy. Character comes in the form of antique polished floorboards, an impressive Italianate mural across one wall, and a grand piano (which was being played rather beautifully yet unobtrusively last time we visited).
La Perla boasts an extensive menu and the portions are correspondingly generous. Starters range from olives, soup or garlic bread to homemade fishcakes, bbq ribs and seafood salad (£3.50-£7.50). There’s a whole raft of pizzas and calzones, plenty of pasta dishes, meaty mains, eight veggie options (plus five vegetarian pizzas) and three fishy offerings. Mains start at £8.25 for a simple pasta, up to £20 for a fine steak. Grilled goat’s cheese, chicken breast and lamb shank round out the choices.
The fishcakes are creamy and delicate; they melt in the mouth. Breaded mozzarella is more of a chew. Both come with fresh, colourful salads. The calzone is a gargantuan eat with a crispy shell and satisfying filling. Lamb shank was good quality meat cooked well, and came with perfect sauteed potatoes… but no other veg. Best to order a side of seasonal vegetables or spinach if you’re keen on getting your ‘five a day’!
The atmosphere at la Perla is unhurried, allowing time for one course to settle before another is embarked upon. Tiramisu, creme brulee and profiteroles are justifiably popular desserts; we were only a little disappointed by an absence of authentic Italian gelato. The coffee is thick and strong, the house red wine very palatable and there’s a decent selection of spirits and liqueurs. Arrive early to sip aperitifs in the bar.
Earlybirds: two courses for £11,
three courses for £13 (5-8pm Mon-Fri)