On a breezy Spring evening many moons ago, The Boy chose Piazza di Roma as the setting for our first date...and so, it seemed rather appropriate to pay this cutesy Italian bistro a visit upon the agreed reinstatement of 'date night'; a concept intended to remedy the distinct lack of 'quality time' spent of late as a result of increasingly conflicting work schedules. Thus, effort induced a tidy dress code (dusty skater-shoes discarded for one night only) and that boy-woos-girl formula that this venue suitably allows for.
Date and Time: Tuesday 20th September 2011, 19:00
Name of Establishment: Piazza di Roma*
Location: 178 Whiteladies Road (Blackboy Hill), Bristol
Reason for visit: Date Night....Revisited!
Piazza di Roma has a distinctly homely feel to it; intimate and traditionally arranged from the solid simplicity of the furniture to the red, green and white of the wipe-clean tablecloths. However, it's indubitably the finishing touches that give this space its character; fairy lights twinkle from where they have been tastefully wound, tea-lights flicker from within the rouged glass containers set upon each table and an Italian-themed soundtrack plays out subtly overhead. The Boy and I chose the table-for-two nearest the window so that we could watch the world go by and although this proved a little cramped, looking out onto the rainy street (albeit punctuated with a number of pedestrians miserably sporting the drowned-rat effect) was somewhat in keeping with the romantic ambiance we had hoped would be achieved.
On to the food and principally steered by Sicilian Chef, Mometo El Bakkali, the menu comprises an ample selection of traditional Italian cuisine. It is also headed with the claim that ingredients are sourced from ‘the best that Italy and Bristol have to offer’ and hence, the promise of authenticity coupled with the quality of locally-sourced fare both appealed and set the bar rather high in terms of our expectations. Furthermore, when it comes to value for money, the early-bird deal whereby two courses amount to just £10.95 (available before 7:45pm), certainly ticks the box and with prior knowledge that portion sizes here are not for the faint-hearted, The Boy and I knew to share a starter (which incidentally made for enough room to also go-halves on a dessert!) We opted for the bruscetta which arrived promptly alongside our chosen tipples; he the Valpolicella Classico, which, as a personal favourite, was positively-received and I, the Soave which established a fresh and creamy finish - just lovely. That, in addition to the crisply textured, well-seasoned and beautifully presented execution of the starter, made for a cracking start - diced juicy tomato muddled with its sun-dried counterpart had been complimented with the unmistakable fragrance of fresh basil and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Supplemented with a side-salad which had been scattered with several varieties of olive, the interesting variation of tastes and textures were perfectly balanced in this dish.
That said, I felt that ‘secondis’ arrived a little too hastily; The Boy hardly having the time to pop the last olive into his mouth before the plate was whisked away and our main courses set down in front of us. I created my own pizza and guided by my stomach, chose to top the mozzarella and home-made tomato, basil and oregano sauce with dolcelatte and prosciutto de Parma ham, (not the most uniform combination I will admit but I can certainly vouch for the fact that it worked – resulting in rich bursts of flavour accented largely by the twang of blue cheese). In addition to this, I learned that Piazza di Roma’s pizza bases are made from scratch and stone-baked on the premises daily which consequently, constituted a thin and crispy crust – just delicious! The Boy chose the Paglia e Fieno all’Alfredo which he reported was wonderfully flavoursome; the earthy tendencies of the mushroom married well with the simplicity of the pan-fried ham and indulgence of the creamy cheese sauce. His only complaint was that the caramelised red onion was a little lacking in terms of its quantity but, with so much going on in this dish, it wasn’t greatly missed!
|My Indulgently Created Pizza|
|Paglia e Fieno all’Alfredo|
Given the calibre of the previous two courses, The Boy and I were a little disappointed with dessert; we had chosen to treat ourselves to the chocolate fudge cake which unfortunately, didn’t have the home-made authenticity of what had been sampled thus far. Attractively plated and decadently warmed-through, the cake itself was light with a good measure of filling and yet, it just didn’t have the wow factor that I would typically sacrifice the extensive calorie-count for! Besides, the ice cream, although liberally portioned, was not of the best quality – a shame considering some of the lovely alternatives that I’m sure could have been sourced in keeping with the original ‘best from Italy and Bristol’ assertion. That said, the visit certainly wasn’t thwarted by a mediocre pudding and The Boy and I will undoubtedly return to Piazza di Roma...though perhaps sticking with a tralatitious Italian sweet may glean a more desirable outcome...(tiramisu anyone?!)
|Chocolate Fudge Cake|
Overall, an enjoyable evening – The Boy and I felt relaxed and comfortable for the duration of our visit and definitely left feeling fed. Service is polite, accommodating and although not particularly chatty (I do like a good old chin-wag), it would be really unfair to fault the professional yet friendly demeanour that our server consistently demonstrated. The cuisine is reasonably-priced, well-presented, fresh and tasty and chocolate fudge cake aside, I loved the genuine feel to the dishes we ordered. Thus, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Piazza di Roma…perhaps suggesting that the proof is not always in the pudding!
And now for the male opinion...
The Boy gave Piazza di Roma a rating of 9/10 and in three words, described this venue as, 'plated with passion'.