Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Restaurant Review - Pesto, Wolvey

They say that the way to a man's heart is through his belly.

Well, I'm going to let you into a secret - it's also the way to a woman's. At least, it's the way to this woman's.

When I was a journalist, I loved nothing more than doing restaurant reviews as I got to gorge on delicious foods and visit wonderful places. So, I was delighted when Pesto (a chain of Italian restaurants) invited me and my friend, Emma, to review their newest eatery, based in the pretty village of Wolvey.

Serving up a unique dining experience (or at least unique for me), Pesto offers a range of Italian-style tapas, known as "piattini". Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely given my huge appetite, I am not a fan of tapas, so I tried my hardest to approach the evening with an open mind.

However, as we pulled up into the car park, I knew that I was going to be proven wrong. Despite it being a Thursday evening, the restaurant was jam-packed. Families and couples milled about and every single seat in the house was taken - to me, the sign of a great restaurant.

The menu had a wealth of options and we were left spoilt for choice. There were traditional Italian favourites, such as pizza and pasta, served on "small plates", as well as many other meat, fish and vegetarian options.

We were recommended to pick two to three dishes each, so we did just that. And I devoured each one, amazed at how delicious and filling each plate was.

With both of us having eyes far, far bigger than our bellies, we were all over the meat options, with just the refreshing Insalata Caprese - tomato, mozzarella and basil salad - to provide light relief.

My favourite dish of the night was the Gamberoni All’aglio e Peperoncino, which was king prawns tossed in a white wine, onion, garlic and chilli marinade. Unlike in many restaurants, we were served with plenty of plump, juicy prawns which were so lip-smackingly good that I ended up licking my fingers after each.

Next up was Peposo, a rich Italian beef stew with a fiery chilli kick. Cooked in red wine until the large chunks of beef melted in your mouth, this was proper home comfort food.

One of my other favourite dishes - the Coscia Di Pollo Imbottita - came with two crispy skinned chicken thighs, oozing with juicy parma ham, spinach and mozzarella. The chicken was cooked to perfection and was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I could happily have devoured more.

Continuing our meat feast, we were then presented with the Polpette Di Manzo - three meatballs the size of my head in a tomato, garlic and herb sauce. As with the stew, these were deliciously comforting and were packed full of flavour.

Finally, with bulging waistlines (I genuinely had to undo my jeans. I know - the glamour), we moved on to our final dish of the night, the Arancini, which was three golden, fried risotto balls, stuffed with mozzarella and ultimately defeated both of us. We only managed to eat one of these each - I think we were ready to be rolled home.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of my meal and will definitely be visiting again. Perfect for dining with family or a group of friends, Pesto has turned me on to the idea of smaller plates of food. Although, next time, I might break it up with some lighter dishes...

Most plates are very reasonably priced at £3.95, with the most expensive £4.50, so expect to pay around £15 for a meal - a great, budget-friendly night out, which I couldn't recommend enough.

Sam x