The Italian restaurant has always, to me, had an air of the old-fashioned. A world cuisine that in the UK at least was heavy on the checked tablecloths, carbs, candlelit eating rooms and breadsticks as standard. You went because you needed a feed, you bought into the romance of carbonara and liked to be treated a bit poorly by the waiter.
Not anymore! As someone who didn’t really bother with Italian food as “well, I can do that home” I have been shown that is no longer the case. Already a huge fan of the neighbourhood restaurant Bomboloni, who serve nonna portions with a modern flair, I was interested to see what ice-cream parlour cum restaurant The Parlour would be offering. On the corner of Cheltenham Road and Zetland Road, owner Nicolo has been smashing ice-cream (their apple pie ice-cream is fantastic) but wanted something more from the space. With his family connections to the C & T Licata and Son deli, an Italian delicatessen on Picton Street, he and head chef Jack (with previous at Poco and the Cherry Duck) have created an Italian menu that screams authenticity without a breadstick in sight.
Pasta is made fresh upstairs and sauces are made with ingredients that are sourced as close to the restaurant as possible. They also make beautiful focaccia, brushed with the most flavoursome olive oil and heady with rosemary, delivered to your table fresh from the oven
The Parlour has, at this time retained the very stark look of the original parlour with white walls and wooden seating, but have tried to warm the atmosphere up a bit with art on the walls, wooden panelling and an extension of the bar. You can watch the bread being made from scratch and the staff are incredibly keen to talk about the menu and the ingredients.
We enjoyed plenty of fresh bread, a Caprese salad and a game terrine to start. Both were excellent and generous with their portions, the salad especially was absolutely beautiful with creamy mozzarella, juicy, well seasoned and flavoursome tomatoes and lashings of that fruity, nutty olive oil. The terrine was packed with sherry-soaked raisins and was served with a fruity chutney that complimented the slight irony flavours.
For main we, of course, had pasta. My colleague had the wild boar ragu on pappardelle, a thick, unctuous meaty ragu on freshly made pasta, it was absolutely divine. The El Comado is a ragu made with chorizo, roast pepper, aubergine and a good kick of spice. Served over a bowl of thin spaghetti and plenty of parmesan cheese this was a lighter option than the boar and just as tasty. With the sauce mopped up with the last of the bread, we didn’t think we could manage a pudding.
Though of course, we had pudding because I am a complete glutton.
We shared a dark chocolate and salted caramel fondant and were very impressed. It was light, it was full of glistening chocolate sauce and it was polished off far too quickly for two people that had eaten as much as they had.
The Parlour might not be the cosiest place to reenact your Lady and the Tramp fantasies but hit all the right spots when it came to service and food. Quite frankly that’s the important bit.
*Please note I received this meal free of charge through my job but loved it so much I wanted to showcase it here. The Parlour didn’t see the review before I released it.*