There seemed to be something fitting about popping to Carluccio’s on the day of Pavarotti’s death and the CD of Italian music for sale in the entrance almsot re-inforced the fact as we were welcomed through to the overstated Caffe in the Trafford Centre.
It’s been five months since I ventured along to its opening night which semed a decent enough length of time for everything to have settled down and a review to be a fair refelection.
So what did we find? To start we decided to share the cruditee with piemonese sauce which was to be “warmed at the table”. This arrived with much haste – in fact too much haste as the delicious, creamy, piquant anchovy sauce was only warmed by its small candle heater as the last dipping carrot stick was wielded.
But the pace soon slowed and it semed an age (about 25mins) before the mains arrived. It may be something of a victim of its own success in this regard as, even on a dull Thursday evening, the place soon filled and even in the cavernous space of the shopping centre’s latest extention, the eaterie had a bustling atmosphere fitting of any popular Italian.
The mains were worth the wait. The spaghetti with clams(£7.25) (my all time favourite dish and widely sampled both home and abroad!) was never going to match that served in Venice purely – because nothing could for me – but was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of chili and a refreshing lack of oil.
Himself spluttered when he saw the measlieness of the rosemary potato portion (equivalent of two spuds for £2) but forgave all when he tucked into the special of lamb steak which was tender, succulent and so perfectly cooked that his plate looked as if it had been washed after every last scrap had been enjoyed.
Inspired, we even made it onto the desserts (after another long wait) with the ice cream and espresso (affogato £3.65) and a chocolate meringue (£4.95) with raspberries which was the stuff of whipped sugar dreams ending our meal.
Verdict: While its location means that going specially for a meal is unlikley, Carluccio’s is a welcome addition to the dining on offer while out shopping. Yes, it does feel a bit formulaic and yes, the waiting staff are a little over pushy when it comes to getting those extras ordered but, if you’ve got the time to wind down, the food is worth the wait and is mostly well-priced.
Click here to download Carluccio’s menu.
More pictures at my Flickr site.