October 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 1 Comment
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Don’t you just love those glorious few weeks of summer, when you can get reacquainted with your old friend the beer garden?

Previously, I thought the only thing better than a beer garden, was a beer garden with an overhead heater, but Piccolino in Millennium Square have proven me wrong with their heated outdoor terrace.

Despite visiting Piccolino at a random time (late one Wednesday afternoon) their outdoor dining area was so busy I didn’t think we’d be able to get a table. Thankfully, one of the waitresses managed to find us a spare table in the far corner. She explained the heaters in this area hadn’t been turned on yet, but if we got cold we just needed to let her know, and she’d switch them on for us. As it turned out, the terrace was sheltered enough that we could comfortably sit outside without the heaters.

Our waitress brought us a pitcher of water and glasses while we perused the menu. Despite our good intentions with the water, somehow two glasses of Chardonnay ended up on our table (£6.75 each). Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

When it comes to food, you have to give Piccolino credit for the sheer size of their menu. Craving carbs? You’re in luck, because the menu features no less than 20 pasta-based dishes. More of a seafood fan? Take your pick from lobster, crab, mussels, clams, scallops, and sea bass, not to mention a heavenly-sounding shellfish butter. There’s also a good selection of pizza and meat dishes, not to mention a whole section dedicated to beef. Rump, rib eye, sirloin, fillet – or if you fancy splashing out, how about a 35 day aged, bone-in prime rib?

I can’t imagine anyone struggling to find something tempting on this mammoth menu!

Despite all the choice, there was no question what I was going to order – I had to give that shellfish butter a go! This meant ordering the ‘ravioli al granchio’ (£13.50); crab ravioli topped with chilli and basil and, of course, that magical-sounding shellfish butter.

When I gave the waitress my order, she wasted no time informing me I’d only get around four pieces of ravioli, in a way that suggested they’d received some complaints about portion size. But it was too late – I had my heart set on shellfish butter. Anyway, I could always order dessert if I was still hungry, right?

The waitress took our orders, and promptly returned with a small basket of complimentary bread and some olive oil, so we had something to snack on while we waited for our mains. Don’t you just love a freebie?

After demolishing the bread and oil, it was time for our mains, and I have to say Piccolino’s ‘ravioli al granchio’ might just be the prettiest pasta dish I’ve ever laid eyes on!

Piccolino Ravioli al granchi

The crab ravioli tasted every bit as good as it looked, and the flakes of chilli gave it an unexpected prickly heat, which I loved. But my main motivation for ordering the ‘ravioli al granchio’ was that shellfish butter, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was absolutely delicious, and had a really complex flavour that was only intensified by the basil and flakes of chilli that’d been soaking in it. Despite being butter-based, it wasn’t in the least bit greasy and actually had a very light, silky texture which was a pleasant surprise.

I just wished I hadn’t been greedy and wolfed down all that free bread, because the only thing missing from my main was something to wipe up every last morsel of shellfish butter. It was a shame to leave any of it floating in the bottom of the bowl!

True, there was only a handful of ravioli, but they were big pieces generously stuffed with lots of crab meat, so I didn’t feel in the least bit short changed. This is the perfect portion size for lunch or even a light evening meal, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

Also winging its way to our table was that Italian favourite, beef lasagna (£10.50).

Piccolino lasagna

Lasagna is one of those simple dishes that’s actually really easy to get wrong. Too much cheese, too much sauce, too much pasta, or even too much meat can completely ruin a good lasagna (and I’m speaking as someone who has ruined many a good lasagna!)

Piccolino’s lasagna gets this tricky balance of ingredients just right. The sauce also had a good flavour without being too strong or spicy, and the meat was tender, tasty, and grease-free. Another big thumbs up for the food!

Since we were enjoying the novelty of sitting outside without coats, we decided to make the experience last a little longer and ordered a round of coffees. I ordered a liqueur coffee (£6.25) with Bailey’s because, well, it’s kind of getting close to the Christmas season!

Piccolino liqueur coffee

Piccolino’s liqueur coffee didn’t exactly put me in the festive spirit. I couldn’t really taste any Bailey’s and even the coffee itself was on the weak side. This definitely wasn’t six quid’s worth of liqueur coffee!

At the other end of the table, it was a booze-free caffeine fix, with a more reasonably-priced £2.75 latte. This latte got a more positive response than my boozy alternative, so next time I’ll save my pennies and order my Piccolino coffee alcohol-free.

The liqueur coffee is my only major gripe with my Piccolino’s experience. I loved their heated terrace, and as the days get colder and darker, I can only imagine it becoming even more popular, as sitting outside without freezing becomes a novelty.

The food was delicious, and the menu is massive. The wine is a little on the pricy side, but this is pretty much to be expected when you’re eating out.

If you’re a fan of Italian (and really, who isn’t?) and don’t mind spending a few extra pounds than you would around the corner at, say, Strada or Zizzi’s, then Piccolino is definitely worth a visit – if only to experience their heated outdoor terrace!



1 Comment »

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  1. what a nice place with really lovely food, like it 🙂

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