Historically, I’ve not been a massive fan of the Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant group but I haven’t done a 180 this fast since remembering I’d left the supermarket last weekend without the £1 Terry’s Chocolate Orange I went in for.
Last night I went to sniff out the Christmas food menu at Gino D’Acampo Liverpool and well, I practically got whiplash from the handbrake-turn change of heart I left with. Here’s why Gino’s will now be among the top ranks of my to-eat list when considering the best places to eat in Liverpool…
This particular venue is in the heart of Liverpool’s financial district, dominating the crossroad where Castle Street, Water Street and Dale Street meet, in all its trademark ‘Gino’s’ teal glory. It might be mid-December but the sizeable restaurant is twinkling with floor-to-ceiling fairy lights year-round and is always alluringly inviting as a passer-by.
If no expense is spared on the exterior then the interior is positively lavish. You’re greeted in a reception area which is bedecked with Gino D’Acampo paraphernalia and a pantry of Italian cooking ingredients, all of which are available to be purchased.
You then move through to the Prosecco bar, which is the customary combo of woods and teal upholstery, surrounded with framed monochrome photography of Gino and his gang of glitterati.
Here, you’ll also find the Insta-famous Gino’s photobooth which me and mine have been no strangers to in the past…
The signature décor theme carries on into the main dining area which features an expanse of booths, alcove tables, mezzanine seating, private dining area, island deli and dessert bar, and a long, open kitchen.
The atmosphere is dynamic but the vibe is cool, and I like how each of the various nooks and crannies offer a slightly different dining experience. We sat at a cosy table for two in the corner with a vantage point for ogling the kitchen pass and prime people-watching.
As you might remember from my recent review of The River Restaurant at The Lowry Hotel, if I’m writing about something less than 24 hours after eating it, it’s bloody good.
We started off with what I was nonchalantly anticipating to be a decent cheese garlic bread but actually transpired to be a unique elevation of the classic, embellished with chunks of rich, smoky, DELICIOUS Provolone cheese (£6).
We also went halfsies on the Crispy Cod Bruschetta (£8.75) which were also delicious but perhaps surplus for us in the bread department. If crispy, breaded fish on toasted ciabatta slathered with a silky lemon mayonnaise sounds good to you though, I wouldn’t let these pass you by.
Whilst we were ordering, we picked out the ‘Friarielli’ Neapolitan Broccoli (£4.25) from the Sides list which our host pointed out might not be quite what we were expecting…
Unlike the broccoli we’re used to lashing in our trolley at the Aldi veg aisle, the Friarielli looks like spinach and leaves a much more bitter taste on the pallet. Unsure, our host brought us a taster from the kitchen for us to sample before committing, which I thought was a lovely touch.
We were divided on the Neapolitan broccoli – I ordered myself a portion to accompany my Gnocchi Margherita (£11) but my partner in dine stuck with some good old (very) Spicy Spinach with garlic & chilli to go with her 8oz Fillet Steak Medallions.
Both of our mains were absolutely fabulous. Faultless, in fact. The gnocchi were the perfect balance of doughy and al dente, the tomato sauce they were tossed in was the right amount of sweet and sharp, and the buffalo mozzarella dotted among the dumplings was creamy and copious – just how I like my soft cheese.
The steak medallions which we asked for medium-rare were cooked to complete and utter perfection.
Flamed grilled in brandy, the outside had a mouth-watering charcoal crunch and the meat in the centre literally collapsed around the cutlery and melted on the tongue. I’m not a big meat-eater but even I could admit that it was a fine specimen of a steak.
The duo of medallions came with fries and a jug of punchy peppercorn sauce – a classic combination done really, really well and often; I think that’s even more impressive than off-the-wall gastronomy. I recently ate six courses of fine dining at Six by Nico, which was truly extraordinary but I can honestly say I enjoyed our meal at Gino’s just as much, in different ways.
We finished with a Baileys Panna Cotta and a Tiramisu and again, both were absolutely divine and memorable adaptations of classic Italian dishes. The panna cotta was generously laced with Baileys and surrounded by what I described as ‘liquid toffee apple’ sauce; the tiramisu was spiked with Amaretto liqueur and dusted with a layer of indulgent cocoa.
Mrs D’Acampo, if you’re reading this, you can give Gino a pat on the back because he’s doing mama’s recipes proud!
I was very kindly invited to review Gino’s but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.