We were recently invited to Carluccio’s in Chester to review their re-launched restaurant as well as try out their new Autumn / Winter menu in return for a feature on our blog. We love Chester and often head to this lovely city for reviews and wondered what this restaurant (founded by the Godfather of Italian gastronomy, Antonio Carluccio) had to offer us. In this post, we share photos, videos and a sneak peek at the food we tasted and our blogger review about the service, staff and what we thought about Carluccio’s Italian Restaurant and Deli.
Located in the scenic and stunning Chester, the restaurant is strategically located on the high street just opposite the Grosvenor Shopping Centre and just a 10-minute walk away from the multistorey carpark. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, has an open space plan and felt very inviting. Head there early if you want a spot by the window as the tables get filled quickly. The restaurant felt cosy, warm and had lovely music being played while patrons chattered about happily with each other. With a staff of 35, the restaurant can easily sit 100 pax with an additional 50 pax on the high chair/ bar stools. In summertime, they can fit in an extra 30 pax more on their patio outside.
Here’s a short video of Carluccio’s in Chester, hope you enjoy viewing this photo video slideshow of our visit to the lovely restaurant.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we got seated and while deciding on our wine, we were quickly served freshly baked Focaccia bread (which is baked every morning at the restaurant) and green nocellara olives. The bread is priced at £3.75 while the olives £3.50. We dipped the bread in a mixture of Carluccio’s Extra Virgin Olive and a 20-year-old aged Balsamic Vinegar which enhanced the flavour of the bread perfectly.
We had a quick look at the menu and soon decided what we were going to order, we were not sure of what wine to have with our meal, but were recommended a selection of wine, we were even given some taster wines for us to try and we soon decide the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio which costs between £5.40 to £7.20 if you want half a glass or a full glass. The staff who served us, Kaya was very knowledgeable when it came to the food and wine. She told us that all staff had to try all the food so that they know how it tastes like and they are able to recommend it to the customers.
For our starters, we ordered Prawns Marinara which was fresh prawns served in white wine, baby plum tomatoes, chilli, fennel seeds, tomato & basil sauce, grilled ciabatta. This amazing dish cost £7.50 and is worth every penny, our only qualms was that it was slightly a bit oilier than we would have liked but the flavours were amazing as you could get the light hint of chilli and the richness of the wine coming through the tomato-based sauce.
For our next starter, we picked the Butternut Squash and Prosciutto Salad which was served with previous ricotta salata (cheese), pumpkin seeds and 20-year-old aged balsamic vinegar which is also sold in their deli. Priced at £6.50, the dish was light and full of texture and crunch. The saltiness of the prosciutto and the balsamic vinegar married each of the ingredients beautifully. Would recommend having this dish any day as it tasted so light and fresh.
I had a quick peek into their kitchen, had a chat with their staff and managed to get some video and photos of them as they were preparing the food, have a look at our video to see all that is mentioned here. The staff were relaxed and happily chatted in Italian while they were preparing the dishes.
Now we got ready to order our mains (speak to the staff as they are happy to suggest a wine for each dish or course of your meal). We learnt that we could either order a full portion of the pasta dishes or 2 halves instead, so we decided to order both the Seafood Linguine as well as the Penne Giardiniera in half portions. The half portions are just the right size for small eaters or teenagers who can’t stomach a full portion (we would recommend this especially if you are having starters and desserts after). The Seafood Linguine which was priced at £14.75 is so worth every bite and morsel and we totally cleaned our plate clean. For the quality of ingredients we were getting, this was a small price to pay. The dish was made with fresh prawns, mussels and squid in a crab, tomato & chilli sauce, baby plum tomatoes, fresh basil and served with linguine. I have a feeling this will be the dish I would order again if I headed back to Carluccio’s in the near future.
Our next half size portion pasta meal was Penne Giardiniera which was priced at £9.95. The giant Pugliese penne was served with courgette, crunchy spinach balls, chilli, garlic and cheese. If you buy this dish, the management would donate 50p to the Antonio Carluccio foundation on our behalf in support of action against hunger. We were also told that this was Antonio’s own recipe and he loved this dish. This dish felt very authentic and it would have been something we know we would have been served in Italy. Nothing poncy about it but simple meal, the courgette was the star of the dish and the light hint of chilli again made the dish shine. It was not our favourite but tasty nevertheless.
With so much choices, we were lost on what to order, luckily we spoke to a couple of staff and one of them recommended the Cod & Mussels With cherry tomatoes, spinach, white wine which we ordered a full portion of. The dish is priced at £15.75 and if you love Cod or mussels, this is your dish! The fish was cooked to perfection and the mussels melted in the mouth while the spinach was tender and the tomatoes gave some acidity and balance to the dish.
After eating all that, we still had room for desserts! Well we could not miss it for the world. Our first dessert was not only stunning to the eyes but it was very light and not overly sweet to the palate as well. We ordered the Meringa al frutto della passione priced at £5.75 which was Meringue, passion fruit, mascarpone cream, raspberries, raspberry coulis. Not a fan of meringues, I was surprised I totally enjoyed this dish, the meringue had a great bite to it, crunchy on the outside yet soft on the inside while the raspberry was not overly sour. A great end to a lovely meal! If you love meringues and would like to take some back with you, its great to know that they sell it at their pastry section in the restaurant.
If you love chocolates, hazelnuts and almond flavoured Amaretti biscuits then you must order the Chocolate & Hazelnut Coppa With Amaretti Biscuits. The nuts were fresh and crunchy and the light ice-cream was so beautifully refreshing after a heavy meal. These cost £6.25 and we would totally recommend not sharing the dessert with anyone else!
If you are an avid foodie, then stop by by their Deli on your way out which is currently stocking up on Christmas items, if you are in a rush for time, then not to worry, head to their website to check out what is on sale as they do have a store online and deliver the items to your home. This is perfect as a present for family or friends if you are wondering what to get someone special for Christmas. We were also told that if you dine in, you could use your receipt to gain a 10% discount on purchases made in the deli.
What did we think?
Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words, and just by looking at the photos on this blog post, you can see the care and attention that goes into every dish. While sitting in the restaurant during lunchtime on a Thursday, it was busy from the time we arrived to when we left. We could hear chattering from the patrons who were as young as toddlers, businessmen to the very old who came in motorised scooters into the restaurant and in walking sticks. We saw lots of families, we saw love, we saw that food brought people of all ages together and Carluccio’s should be very proud of its existence and what it offers. The staff who served us were not only keen to stop by and chat with us freely, but never stopped giving their honest opinion of the food we are being served, they were not afraid to tell us if there was a dish they personally did not like and when asked they explained each ingredient in a dish. Would we go back again? Yes definitely! If not for the food or the amazing things that is being sold in the deli such as the aged balsamic, Italian biscottis’, panettone, sweets and preserves and much more, it would be for the ambiance, a chat with the staff and to feel like we are in a little Italian cafe in Italy.
Where is Carluccio’s in Chester located and what are their opening hours?
38 Bridge St, Chester CH1 1NQ
Tel: 01244 401938
They are open Mon to Sat from 8am until 11pm while on Sunday they open from 9am until 10.30pm
Carluccio’s began life in 1991 when Antonio and Priscilla opened their food shop in Neal Street, bringing the finest quality regional Italian food to London. They carefully wrote each label by hand and explored the length and breadth of Italy to find the best ingredients. In 1999 they opened the first Carluccio’s Caffè in Market Place – an authentic Italian restaurant in the truest sense of the word, and a continuation of their successful food shop. Their aim was to provide great quality, authentic Italian food at sensible prices, and to provide informal but excellent service to our customers. That aim remains the same today. We cook by Antonio’s motto, MOF MOF. Minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour. They have 75 restaurants across the UK and Ireland, and 14 in Turkey and the Middle East.
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* We were invited to Carluccio’s in return for a feature. All opinions are our own. Unmarked photos courtesy of Carluccio’s.