Wednesday, May 31, 2006

La Dolce Vita

In the past week eatingLeeds has experienced two Italian meals - both incredibly different. It's been a while since we visited Piccolino and we've been gearing ourselves up for the Tuscan dinner at Salvo's for a good month or so.

However, before we made it to Salvo's, we found ourselves in Brio on Great George Street ...

Thurs 25 May 2006

I've commented before on how cautiously I approach Italian restaurants. However, Brio has been on my 'list' for quite a while. It's come recommended as one of the 'good' Italian restaurants in Leeds and, given that it's not cheap, I've been looking forward to getting there ... eventually.

However, my dinner at Brios was neither planned, nor did it really live up to my (rather high) expectations. A group of us landed on Brio's doorstep on Thursday night after some post-work, pre-wedding celebratory drinks. I think I managed to eat some of pretty much everybody's food too.

I started with the gamberoni e fagioli (prawns and beans) which costs £8.95. I've not actually tried this anywhere before and I really enjoyed the combination. The dish is flavoured with sage and garlic and it works really well. I thought the Brio version was a bit heavy on the sage, and the prawns were quite small - if I'd been paying £5 I would have been happy but I do think that pushing this dish out to almost £10 is a bit rich.

For mains I had gnocchi with scallops (cappesante for all you Italiophiles) - one of the specials. I also had an entertaining discussion with our (Italian) waiter about whether or not 'scallops' was an Italian word and, once we'd established it wasn't, what the Italian for scallop might actually be.

This proved to be the most memorable thing about this dish. In fact, I can't really remember anything else because the scallops were so tiny I actually didn't even think there were scallops in it! I had a good dig around in various other dishes, including the pennette carbonara (not very good at all - far too much like it involved a carbonara sauce out of a packet, and nothing like it involved lashing of egg, cream and parmesan) and the ravioli all' aragosta, which was a very alarming colour, without any of the smell or taste of saffron, or even lobster.

To be honest, I didn't feel any real need to go back to Brio to work my way through more of the menu.

And now, having had dinner at Salvo's ... why, I feel even less inclined!

Sat 27 May 2006

Finally time for the much vaunted Tuscan dinner at Salvo's Salumeria on Otley Road. Hooray! I've been looking forward to this for quite a while, so I was quite excited by the time Saturday night came around.

Personally, I love knowing in advance how much my food is going to cost, I love tasting menus and I love set menus (I eat everything anyway, and it removes the whole decision making process). I also love good Italian food, so I was as happy as a pig in mud!

The 10 or so courses were all small so there was no problem in getting through them all, though I wasn't particularly interested in breakfast the next day either!

Rather than opting for a blow by blow description of each course (read the online menu and weep!), I'm going to pull out the eatingLeeds highlights ...

I pretty much loved everything, though the panzanella (bread, tomato and tuna salad) was a lovely surprise (I don't think I've ever had it before), and I absolutely loved the pasta with rabbit ragu (and we got to have seconds!). Other people at my table raved about the red mullet livornese (with tomatoes and black olives) and we all scoffed our pudding - zuppa del duca (billed as the 'original tiramisu'). Probably we were most lukewarm about the guinea fowl with grapes

Between four of us we ate ourselves silly, got through three bottles of wine, some bottled water, and pre-dinner proseccos and it only cost us £40 per head (including tip!). What brilliant value! Of course - as it's a set menu, it's not for picky eaters or those with a variety of dietary requirements. And it's probably not for those on a diet either!

As it's coming up to summer I'll definitely be investigating making my own panzanella and I'm eagerly awaiting the Puglian (already started) and Sicilian (come October). Salvos is also running seafood festivals and wine tasting evenings throughout the remainder of the year - so really, you have no excuse!

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1 Comments:

Anonymous gip said...

hello alex,cool site.
if you want to make panzanella you need to get some friselle (Italian twice cooked bread),make your salad with ripe tomatoes, season with salt and leave it to stand 1/2 hour so the juice is drawn out. break the friselle up and briefly pop it into warm water to soften a little, gently squeeze before folding into your salad and leaving another 30 minutes to marry 'em.you can get the bread at the salumeria.
regards
gip

9:37 pm  

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