Carluccio’s has debuted its first ‘new generation’ restaurant in the heart of Solihull, bringing its original and unrivalled modern Italian dining, deli and shop to the Mell Square development.
Last night, I took my friend to Carluccio’s, and together we had a wonderful evening. The environment was cosy, the staff were very friendly and caring, especially Nicole who served us. Nicole was very smiley, and was very genuine when catering for our needs – throwing in some cheeky recommendations for us to try. We were particularly glad of the Homebaked Focaccia suggestion with traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oil (£2.95) and the accompaniment of Rustica Marinated Olives (£2.95).
We ordered a nice dry bottle of white Babylon Bianco (£21.95), which agreed with every dish we ordered. For starters, my guest ordered Crispy Calamari (£6.50) and the generosity of the dish was very appealing, enough for me to steal some bites. This dish I highly recommend, and will be ordering myself next time. I ordered Crab Macaroni (£6.95) for my first course, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. Though I appreciated the presentation of it, it was sort of ‘crab-less’. Having grown up in Portugal, I was spoiled for seafood. I wasn’t expecting a whole crab, of course, but I definitely wanted some fresh crab meat to go with the pasta. It was more like dry shavings tossed on top of the dish. It tasted fine, but for £6.95 I wanted some ocean essences. This is a new dish, so perhaps Carluccio’s should look at how the crab dimension is served in the next culinary draft.
Mains wise, I chose Festoni with Smoked Salmon & Vodka (£12.50). This dish was the highlight for me. It had plenty of smoked salmon, which I love, and the Festoni pasta really worked for this dish, absorbing the wonderful cream & vodka sauce. Nicole grated some cheese for me which complemented it very well. My friend was not too impressed with his main. For just under £15, the Chicken Saltimbocca (£14.95) promises a palate adventure with 14-day aged prosciutto Gran Sasso with sage and a white wine sauce; served with roasted potatoes tossed in pesto and rocket. In part, the flavours from the potatoes and bird delivered, but the chicken was left with a tiny, speedo-sized prosciutto piece in the middle, leaving the rest of the chicken escalope bare. It was like the chicken was wearing a prosciutto loincloth. In fairness, when this was mentioned, the manageress offered to add more pieces or to choose some sides. That was a very professional and friendly way to deal with our disappointment.
The desserts were Mandarin and Lemon sorbet, which were very refreshing and packed with fragrance and flavour, and I had the Cioccolato Fondente (£6.95), which Nicole raved enthusiastically about. For that price, you are expecting an amazing dessert, but it was just like any other you get from a tin. It wasn’t special enough in my eyes.
The evening was finalised by a shot of Limoncello and Nicole doggy-bagged my wine, which was perfect! Overall, great atmosphere and flavours, but some concepts need rethinking and rebranding.
ADDRESS: 159-161 High St, Solihull B91 3SS
Price Rating: £££ (explained)
Star Rating: ★★★ (explained)