Carluccios offers Italian dining at affordable prices.The chain has been long established and built a loyal base of customers through it’s strong brand. STYLEetc wanted to see how the recent menu weighed up so we took a trip to the Chester branch to try the dishes for ourselves.
This particular Carluccios restaurant has been renovated in the past few months, giving way to a modern aesthetic to keep the restaurant relevant to it’s diners. The lighting is warm and inviting, working well with the navy upholstery and wooden furnishings to create an atmosphere you feel comfortable in.
Tables are arranged with enough space for privacy whilst you dine and the tables are made of marble effect materials, a good backdrop if you like to Instagram your food before you eat it.
The menu includes a range of dishes to enjoy solo and to share if you’re dining in a couple or group. There are sharing boards of meats and cheese to enjoy and a good selection of breads to order for the table. We ordered the Focaccia with cheese alongside two starters; Antonio’s Chicken Liver Pate and Scamorza Aranchini.
The Aranchini was Sicilian rice balls filled with spinach and mozzarella, with a spicy tomato sauce on the side. There was a juxtaposition between the crisp outer shell of the balls and the soft, creamy centre which worked well. The tomato puree sauce also went well with this dish and was generously portioned.
The Pate was intriguingly served, kept in a pot to keep it fresh with a gelatin layer on top. This was also satisfactory, although the bread it came with was a little on the crunchy side.
For mains, we opted for the Minute Steak and the Wild Boar Tortellini. The steak was a nice, easy option for someone (such as myself) who enjoys a no-fuss option from time to time. This steak comes with a green salad, but we did also order rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes on the side to go with. The steak came prepared as requested and the salad was a good portion to fill you up if you chose this without the added on carbs.
The Wild Boar Tortellini was well made, just the right balance of being not too soft or dry. The meat was tender on the inside, blending nicely with the flavours from the beef broth and veg.
Onto the dessert menu and there are a good selection of puddings to choose from. Our choices included the Eton Mess and a bespoke order of Raspberry Tart from the deli counter. The deli counter offers some good, additional options if what you see on the menu doesn’t take your fancy. The tart was served as it came, no added frills for dining in with it. We did hope they’d be able to combine this with ice-cream or cream but the waitress didn’t give us options on this when asked.
The Strawberry Cheesecake Coppa reminded us of an Eton Mess, coming with both vanilla and strawberry ice-cream and meringue. The almond flakes on top made a staple addition to give more texture to the ice-cream and syrup. Perfect if you have a sweet tooth.
The food was good value for money, there are enough speciality dishes on the menu to make it worth the trip. The seasonal updates give further reason to return and see what’s new on the list to try. It would have been nice to see a few more mains other than pasta dishes but besides this we were more than happy with our meals. The service was generally adequate, although our main waitress was not the most helpful or friendly, but the other staff were much better.