You would be forgiven for thinking you were sat in an idyllic eatery on the Italian coast when you dine at Carluccio’s. The atmosphere is relaxing but efficient, and the restaurant is perfect for a romantic night out, or to enjoy each other’s company in larger groups. The service, from the native Italian Carlotta, was polite and attentive from the moment we walked through the door and were shown to our table for two in the window. We were left to peruse the menus whilst snacking on mixed olives and focaccia bread to get us started. The bread was delicious and moist, having been baked fresh that morning on site.
To accompany our food, we were also given a choice of red and white wines that had been specially selected, and their flavours explained to us. We settled for a delicious red wine that was also great value for money.
For starters, I always choose caprese salad when eating at an Italian as it’s a firm favourite of mine but after some deliberation, I decided on the antipasto, I was swayed by the mix of flavours on offer; caperberries, sweet and sour peppers, raisins and flaked almonds. The combination of mouth-watering meats, the crisp flatbread with the sweet and sour pepper chutney was incredible, I was very pleased with my choice.
My dining partner, Alex, opted for a starter from the seasonal menu - which is currently celebrating rhubarb! He really enjoyed cacio e Pepe fritti which was a crispy fried ravioli filled with ricotta and pecorino romano cheese and black pepper, served with a rich rhubarb dipping sauce. The sauce was very tasty and not the sweet taste that I was expecting, after having only eaten rhubarb crumble before now - two amazing starters.
It took some time to choose our main meals as everything seemed so flavoursome and appealing! If you’re a fan of Italian food, Carluccio’s is definitely a restaurant that provides variety on each visit as the seasonal and set menus are updated, so you would never be bored with its offerings. Alex chose again from the seasonal menu and had lobster and prawn linguine with samphire, which consisted of lobster, prawns and baby plum tomatoes served in a crab, white wine and chilli sauce, accompanied by tarragon oil and samphire. This one ticks a lot of boxes for a sea food fan! It was fresh and delicious with just the right amount of kick.
I always tend to go for a meat main and couldn’t resist lamb shank which is on the main menu. Slow cooked in a chianti, tomato and black olive sauce, it was beautifully tender and fell off the bone. The saffron risotto was a real tasty accompaniment and I also added tenderstem broccoli as an extra side that came topped with chilli, garlic and almond giving it a fantastic flavour. Throughout our meal, our waitress Carlotta was helpful and checked we were happy, which of course we were, everything was simply superb, full of flavour and very good portion sizes.
Dessert time is definitely what I look forward to and there are some delicious sweets to choose from, including panna cotta and passion fruit meringue. The giant profiterole was the most tempting for me and I was not disappointed; it was just the perfect amount, and consisted of vanilla ice cream, ricotta cream and the most indulgent hazelnut and chocolate sauce – a real dessert heaven. Alex went for his favourite - tiramisu, which he most certainly enjoyed and would definitely have again and recommend!
The atmosphere throughout the night was relaxed and friendly; we could easily have sat and chatted all night whilst enjoying more nibbles. We will surely return and look forward to seeing what the next seasonal menu has to offer.
14 The Square
Tel: 01743 366040