Restaurant review: Independent holding its own against the big boys

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio's

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio's

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I do like an underdog, and with the arrival of the big, shiny High Street brand restaurants in Peterborough city centre, independents like Topo Gigio’s certainly fit into that bracket.

So it was great to see, once again I might add, that the Cowgate-based Italian was enjoying a busy lunchtime, with a good 20-plus diners when I popped in on Friday.

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio

In its current incarnation, Topo’s has only been around for just over two years - after being revived by Mick Guarnaccia -but still carries the name that harks back to the 80s and 90s.

And my lunch was also reminiscent of the great food I enjoyed there during its pomp, which seems like a generation ago.

The place has a rustic look which I like and a big open kitchen so you can see everything being prepared and coming out.

In addition to the pizza and pasta on the main menu, there is a set lunchtime offer - two courses for £7.95 and three courses for £9.95.

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio

Brad Barnes dines at Topo Gigio

I started off with quite a generous caprese salad ( the alternatives were bruschetta or garlic bread).

It is traditionally made to represent the Italian flag - red white and green - and I wasn’t disappointed.

Layers of fresh tomatoes with a hint of sweetness, thick slices of soft and creamy mozzarella and slightly peppery basil leafs. A drizzle of olive oil and a balsamic reduction, with a little seasoning, it was very enjoyable.

The main course offerings were penne arrabbiata, cotoletta di pollo and spaghetti bolognese. I went with the latter, and I wasn’t disapointed.

It was a good sized portion, I liked the fact the spaghetti was near al dente ( I can’t stand soggy pasta), the mince had a nice meaty taste to it and the sauce wasn’t too heavy on tomatoes. Everything was just as I like it.

Just like the old days.

Venue: Topo Gigio’s, Cowgate, Peterborough 01733 685657

Brad’s rating: 8