Sometimes the best food experiences happen when you least expect.
With 90 minutes to squeeze in a quick pre-theatre meal before heading to my good friend Gary McNair‘s new one-man-show at the Arches, Craig and I decided to pop into Carluccio’s on West Nile St for a decent Italian feed.
I’d visited the thriving nationwide restaurant chain of Antonio Carluccio a couple of times since this one opened about 18 months ago and I really invested in the energetic, buzzy atmosphere of the place. The food was always above average, too, but for some reason I was never expecting anything spectacular – probably because I was making comparisons with Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian.
Perusing the menu, I was set on choosing something different – having had the Penne Giardiniera more than once previously – and on spotting a venison pasta dish, my decision was made. To me, Antonio Carluccio’s food represents provincial Italian fare, and the Tortelloni di Cervo is exactly what I’d envisage him creating with gusto on ‘Two Greedy Italians’.
Arriving at my table, the dish had an understated appeal which spoke to me of anticipation; the star ingredient was modestly tucked away inside those golden parcels, gleaming with a simple buttery coating.
With a light dusting of fresh parmigiano and cracked black pepper, the tortelloni were ripe for testing.
Rich, earthy and full-flavoured, the delectable pockets of red wine-braised venison also had a melting sweetness which delivered perfectly balanced flavour with every mouthful. Given that I’m an all-out carnivore, this is genuinely one of the most satisfying pasta dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
Despite my best intentions of trying something new every time I revisit a restaurant, my senses tell me there’s little chance I’ll be overlooking the Tortelloni di Cervo on my next sojourn to Carluccio’s. All I can do is urge you to try it!