Overindulgence is usually the theme of any half term for us but, this May, we have all been relatively unwell so, as our malaise finally ebbed away, Red and I were feeling fighting foodie fit rather than gout-ridden and bloated. In such positive spirits, and following a tip off from an old friend, the Silver Fox, we headed to St John’s Road for a bite of lunch. Those familiar with the Crosby / Waterloo area will know that following a lengthy retail decline over the past 15 years, there are now clear signs of growth and green shoots. Though South Road has maintained a relatively strong food scene, it is now heartening to see College Road, Coronation Road and St John’s Road joining the party.
Anyway, back to Eataly, a recently opened Italian winebar and deli all in a very small and rustic dining room: literally 7 or 8 tables. This place is small, but perfectly formed. We had booked ahead but felt foolish when we arrived to find we were the only patrons but within 10 mins the importance of booking was clear as the place filled rapidly with couples, friends and families.
“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room inside our hearts.”
– Winnie the Pooh
Quickly seated and given menus, it was a bit of a toss up between pizza or platters for me – I am a firm believer in going with the strengths of a restaurant, and both of these were adequately covered in the menu. As it was only lunch and we were having a sizeable evening meal, I opted for the Pizza Veronese with prosciutto crudo and mushrooms whilst Red went for the buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, pesto and hand picked rocket sandwich. To drink, I had sparkling water and Red chose pineapple juice – to be fair, the sun was only just approaching the yard arm!
Our waiter returned to apologise that there would be a slight delay as the owner / chef had popped out. It made no difference to us and he seemed more concerned by this than we did, nevertheless the free olives were much appreciated by Red and I. (I have a funny story that involves me, a French Farmers’ Market and olives). The wait, of no more than 15 mins, gave us time to look at the drinks menu which offered Peroni on draft, a nice collection of Italian themed cocktails, good selection of wines and an equally strong gin and vodka range. Most of these had offers on as well making them very reasonably priced.
After our short wait, our food arrived. Now I have had more than my fair share of pizzas and they tend to fall in to 2 camps: American style pizzas (both Chicago and New York Style) and Italian pizzas. Now dont get me wrong, there is a time and a place for American style pizzas, but nothing compares to true Italian pizza. I am, very pleased to say that my classic Pizza Veronese was just that, classic. Delightfully topographic as a result of well-prepared dough allowing some parts to rise more than others, covered in a rich tomato base, molten puddles of creamy mozzarella and delightful shavings of salty prosciutto crudo. When it arrived, I wondered if it would be enough for my sizable appetite but, believe me, it was: once again small but perfectly formed.
Red’s buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, pesto and picked rocket sandwich came served very artistically on a balsamic glazed slate. This too was delicious: full of traditional Italian flavours with the milky creaminess of the mozzarella being balanced wonderfully against the freshly made pesto.
“Molten puddles of creamy mozzarella and delightful shavings of salty prosciutto crudo.”
Following the meals, I was happy to pack up and pay but Red dug deep into her hidden gluttony and decided she needed a dessert as well. Always the gentleman, I offered to support her in this reckless endeavour so unilaterally she decided upon Limoncello Cheesecake. This was going to be a tough ask of this little wine bar as Red makes her own limoncello, and very good it is too. Once again the cheesecake appeared a touch small but, again perfectly formed. The biscuit base crumbled away in butterly delight leaving the fresh, creamy cheesecake filling, cut through nicely by the limencello. Very enjoyable.
So all-in-all this was a very enjoyable experience and one we would want to repeat. The place and some of the dishes appeared small (reminding me of the Father Ted sketch where he explains to Dougal the difference between small and far away), but in truth they are just right. So, whether coming to sit in the sun for an afternoon drink, meeting friends for cocktails or enjoying some good Italian food, Eataly is small but perfectly formed.
Type: family / budget restaurant
- Service: 8/10 A slight delay for meal awaiting the chef but attentive and considerate
- Atmosphere: 8/10 small, rustic but welcoming
- Food: 9/10 good fresh Italian food cooked well.
- Value for money: 9/10 change of £20 for 2 lunches, drinks and a shared dessert
- Overall: 8.5 A great addition to the area and hopefully a catalyst for more development on St John’s Road
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: No Website but Eataly Twitter Account