It was seen as the catalyst that started the Cathedral Square food revolution, so I was interested to see if Carluccio’s in Cumbergate had stood up to the influx of competitors.
Well the answer is rather well - a really enjoyable lunch washing away memories of a disappointing previous visit, albeit in its opening week three years ago.
That earlier visit was marred by some flavourless food and poor service; no worries on either of those scores this time round.
I love the old building that houses the restaurant, and the interior is tastefully decorated and decked out. And on a sunny day it is probably the best place to sit out to eat and drink in the city centre.
On the afternoon of our visit, the outside area was packed to the point of almost putting us off; But we ventured inside, which was busy - we waited a few moments while a table for four was found - and were soon happy with our choice of lunch venue.
A daytime visit comes with the option of the set lunchtime menu (two courses for £11.99, three courses for £13.99) as well as the comprehensive a la carte offering. There was so much to chose from, restricting choice to three or four starters, mains and desserts speeded up the process.
The zuppa di funghi was beautiful, the best dish of its type I have had in some while. The broth itself had a lovely taste, and throw in the chunks of mushroom and pancetta and wow. I cleared the bowl with the assistance of some wonderfully soft and moist focaccia.
We also shared some bruschetta with a tomato and peppers topping. Great flavours but not crunchy enough, and it soon went a bit soggy.
The lasagna tradizionale was a surprisingly big portion which made me glad I didn’t add fries or salad. A lovely tomato sauce, nice soft pasta and really tasty minced beef and lamb. Very enjoyable and filling indeed.
And across the table the nicoise salad got rave reviews, from Donna, who rates it as a favourite.
Again, a good sized serving with crisp green beans and sweet peppers, tasty tomatoes, plenty of green leaves, new potatoes and a boiled egg on top. The anchovies and tuna flakes were the stars though with lots of flavour on offer with a tasty vinaigrette to boot.
More than ample servings put paid to any thoughts of desserts despite a liking for tiramisu and panna cotta.
A smashing lunch with excellent service - prompt, efficient and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble - extra drinks and ice creams for the girls as well as a little play set to keep them occupied.
After three years between visits, I don’t think I will be leaving it quite so long before I join them for lunch again.
VENUE: Carluccio’s, Cumbergate, Peterborough city centre tel 01733 890752 www.carluccios.com
BRAD’S RATING: 8
THE LNCHTIME MENU
Zuppa di fungi
A porcini broth with mushrooms and Italian bacon, served with fresh focaccia bread.
Antonio’s chicken liver pate
Homemade with toasted ciabatta and red onion jam.
Topped with either: Pea, mint and ricotta; Fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil and oregano.
Delicate pasta parcels filled with spinach and ricotta, served with butter and sage.
Flattened chicken breast, breadcrumbed and fried, served with salad.
Tuna, green beans, sweet peppers, tomatoes, anchovy fillets, salad leaves and free range egg.
Layers of egg pasta with tomato, ground beef and lamb and bechamel sauce.
Savoirdi biscuits soaked in strong espresso coffee and coffee liquor with mascarpone and chocolate.
Gelato ice cream
Authentic Gelato Artigianali served with a Carluccio’s wafer.
Rum and vanilla flavoured cream with candied orange.