HAVING already dined in dozens of Italian venues across the region I was keen to try Chester’s newest addition.

Almost a month ahead I was already preparing myself for Carluccio’s official opening in Bridge Street, learning with great excitement the venue was also to include a caffe and a deli.

As we had booked for the opening night we arrived to a very busy scene, but staff seemed to have everything under control.

The eating area was well lit and as we walked in we were greeted by one of the managers. We were seated in the bar area near the front door where we munched on olives and fizzy mineral water while waiting for our table. We also had the chance to check out some of the items for sale in the deli, which included a variety of pastas, sauces, olives and sweets.

After a few minutes, we were led to a small table close to the door. There was a bit of a draught coming in but I guessed staff probably wanted as many people as possible to know the venue was finally open.

Many of the dishes were homemade and consisted of organic ingredients, and I had a very hard time making up my mind.

I finally made a decision from the special three-course menu and the waiter, who noticed we were ready, promptly took our order. We also ordered a glass of Sicilian white wine Sicani bianco. It was served chilled and tasted very cool and crisp.

To start my friend and I each had bruschetta. I have eaten bruschetta many times but I have never been so impressed – a slice of homemade Italian bread slightly toasted with fresh ripe tomatoes, oregano, basil, roasted yellow peppers and extra virgin olive oil, and a touch of sea salt.

After finishing our starters we continued our conversation for a couple of minutes until the main dishes were brought out.

I had ordered spinach and ricotta ravioli, served with butter and sage. Judging from how it tasted we could have been in Italy.

I had also ordered a side dish of spinach sautéed with garlic.

I enjoyed my food so much, when I was finished I wanted to eat it all over again.

I also had a little bit of my friend’s food. He had ordered penne alla luganica – tubes of pasta in a rich and spicy Italian sausage sauce.

It was very flavourful, and the sausages were very juicy and divine. We both completely cleared our plates.

When we finished my friend was determined to order a bowl of chocolate Italian ice cream.

I did not want anything else but he informed me the ice cream was “absolutely amazing”.

We asked for the bill and were pleasantly surprised at how little we had spent. It was great to know we could enjoy such high-quality food that was also very affordable. I made certain the staff knew we would be returning soon.

The Bill

Two course menu – £13.45
Three course menu – £15.95
Side of spinach – £2.96
Gelati – £3.75
Penne alla luganica – £7.95
Sicani bianco – £3.95/£4.95
Bruschetta – £4.95
Ravioli – £7.75