Cucina Di Vincenzo
Woolton Road, Liverpool
Review by Lawrence Saunders
As a frequent visitor to the land of art, architecture and aggressive hand gestures, I was delighted to hear of a new family-run Italian restaurant opening in South Liverpool.
After I discovered this Woolton Road eatery was the brainchild of Vincent Margiotta, formerly of Duke Street’s Il Forno, I was even more desperate to pay a visit.
When my partner and I finally did make it along on a busy Friday evening, we were both immediately impressed by the restaurant’s elegant décor which was all distressed wood and striking antiques.
As you’d expect on a Friday night the atmosphere inside was buzzing, but Vincenzo’s was still managing to retain a sophisticated air which was propagated by an assured hosting performance from Vincent.
Onto the food and to begin we opted to share the Antipasto Misto (£17). Any Italian restaurant worth its garlic should be able to knock up a decent version of this starter and much to my delight Vincenzo’s interpretation was far from just decent.
This classic selection of cold meats, vegetables, cheese and bread was as good, if not better, than any antipasti I’ve sampled on my travels across the ‘Boot’.
If I were forced to pick a highlight of the generously sized platter it would have to be the tapenade; the smooth olive, capers and olive oil paste was divine when spread across a tiny snailshaped piece of crusty bread.
We paired our first course with a couple of glasses of Sant’Elisa Friuli Pinot Grigio (£18.50), which complemented the salami, prosciutto and peppers perfectly.
Onto the mains and I doubt Oz Clarke would have matched my fabulous Tagliata Manzo (£19) with our choice of plonk, but never mind.
The succulent sliced sirloin steak – nestled beneath a bed of rocket and topped with Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes – was a joy to behold.
Expertly seasoned, the melt in the mouth meat soaked up plenty of the lipsmackingly good balsamic reduction.
Likewise my date adored her orecchiette pasta with broccoli, Italian sausage and chilli (£10), noting the expertly curated blend of textures and aromatic chopped pork.
For afters there was a concise selection of Italian classics to choose from. Panna cotta for myself and tiramisu for my dining partner, both puddings were a more than reasonable £6 each.
These two staples of Italian cuisine were again both absolute triumphs.
Served in a quaint vintage teacup, my panna cotta was rich, creamy and indulgent, everything you could possibly want from this simple yet sophisticated dessert.
Meanwhile my partner was equally as enamoured with her tiramisu, admitting she found it more luscious, flavorsome and moreish than the one we get from Aldi. And she really likes that one.
Nine months ago I said new Liverpool restaurants would have a tough job dislodging Verdant as the city’s top eatery but Cucina di Vincenzo may well have done just that.
Not just a brilliant Italian, this is a brilliant restaurant full stop.