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Food review: Paolo’s Restaurant is a quick and easy option

PUBLISHED: 16:19 29 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:23 29 March 2018

The open kitchen at Paolo's Restaurant is a great feature, allowing diners to see the chefs at work. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

The open kitchen at Paolo's Restaurant is a great feature, allowing diners to see the chefs at work. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

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Will a popular Norwich Italian live up to expectation?

The main event: Risotto Zafferano and Gnocchi Alla Provenzale. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.The main event: Risotto Zafferano and Gnocchi Alla Provenzale. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Food

Italian food is a firm favourite in my house. And even though it’s something I like cooking at home, I still enjoy a restaurant-quality bowl of something delicious. It’s a rare Saturday night out with a friend, and upon arrival at Paolo’s Restaurant we are seated at a table with a good view of the open kitchen – I like that! Our waiter is very chatty, and takes particular interest in my friend’s drink choice – pineapple juice and tonic water. He asks her several questions about how it should be put together, explaining that it’s up there with the more unusual requests, which include red wine and coke – now that is an odd combination! Now to the food. We have the starter-or-dessert conversation and opt for dessert (silly question really, if you ask me). One of the main reasons I like Italian food is that I’m a paescatarian, and most Italian menus have a good range of vegetarian and fish options. Paolo’s is no exception. I struggle to make a decision, but in the end the risotto zafferano - Italian rice cooked with wild and button mushrooms, asparagus, cream and saffron sauce – wins out. Although we eat a lot of Italian-inspired dishes, I don’t think I’ve ever made a risotto. Maybe it’s something to do with the risk that it will just end up a bowl of mush. It’s therefore always a good bet at a restaurant, as there isn’t the possibility of thinking “I could have cooked this at home”. The mushrooms are also a temptation, as both my husband and son don’t like them but I love them. My friend orders the gnocchi alla provenzale - pepperoni, onions, black olives, capers, a touch of cream, Gorgonzola cheese and sun-dried tomatoes – for much the same reason, her lot don’t like gnocchi. After a short wait our bowls come out and look appetising. They are tasty too – and certainly no mush where my risotto is concerned. The dishes possibly lack a bit of finesse, but both bowls are emptied and enjoyed. For dessert we both go for croccantino semifreddo – caramel Chantilly ice cream on a sponge base decorated with a crunchy topping. It looks fantastic on the plate, and the chocolate ice cream that comes with it is delicious, but I feel the main element is a bit bland. I’ve heard the pizzas are good, so maybe next time I’ll try one and change my stance on the starter-dessert decision.

Drinks

The pineapple juice and tonic water request seemed to baffle the waiter a bit – he ended up bringing the two elements in their respective bottles with a glass in which to combine them, all for the rather hefty price tag of £6.45!

The Croccantino Semifreddo dessert. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.The Croccantino Semifreddo dessert. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Ambiance

The restaurant had a nice traditional feel and the arches made quite a large space feel intimate. There was a real mix of diners, from couples and families to a large group of men tucking into pizzas.

Price

It was reasonable enough apart from the extortionate pineapple and tonic water. I think the desserts at £5.95 were also a bit much.

The welcoming exterior of Paolo's Restaurant on St Giles Street. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.The welcoming exterior of Paolo's Restaurant on St Giles Street. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Service

Everyone was friendly and there were lots of smiling faces. Our orders came quickly, as did the bill.

Parking

St Giles Car Park is just up the road, and St Andrew’s isn’t far away.

Location

It’s on St Giles Street, so pretty central, and therefore a good option after shopping or for a pre-cinema or theatre meal.

Highlight

The opportunity to eat mushrooms!

In summary

It was a nice spot for a catch up with a friend and a tasty bowl of food. The service was quick for a Saturday evening, which makes it a good option if you have cinema or theatre tickets when combined with the central location. The menu has loads to choose from, and there were other things on there that I’d definitely like to go back and try – I’d just skip the dessert.

This is an independent review.

Read more EDP food reviews.


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