Carluccio’s Autumn Menu – Review

Now that the cooler weather has arrived this popular Italian restaurant has introduced a new seasonal menu. Peter Morrell and his wife go for a taste

Carluccios Covent Garden

Carluccio's Covent Garden

Zuppa di Funghi

Zuppa di Funghi

Calamari Fritti

Calamari Fritti

Seafood Linguini

Seafood Linguini

Now that the evenings are colder and darker popular Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has introduced a new menu. It features everything from antipasti to small plates through to freshly made pasta, salads and main plates. The new menu is a homage to the legacy that Antonio Carluccio created twenty years ago, with recipes originally crafted at his first restaurant, the widely acclaimed Neal Street in Covent Garden.

Recipes from Antonio taking centre stage on the menu include Zuppa di Funghi, a rich and earthy soup of porcini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms served with fresh focaccia bread and Beef Ragù Pappardelle a slow-cooked beef and red wine ragù with olives, which Antonio developed with Eric Chauvet who remains the executive chef today.

We went to the flagship restaurant in Covent Garden. The location doubles as a delicatessen selling authentic Carluccio branded Italian products. The dining space is light and bright, exhibiting an array of impressive art on the walls. We went on a Tuesday which is normally a quiet evening for restaurants, but with a lot of diners already eating there, the atmosphere was bustling and upbeat.

We took a look at the new menu, there were nibbles to enjoy before the antipasti arrived including big, bright green Nocellara olives from Sicily and a mix of breads from the deli.

Antipasti dishes featured Arancini balls, stuffed with spinach and smoked mozzarella cheese, and chicken liver pate with toasted ciabatta bread. Our starters were calamari fritti and the salumi plate. My wife’s fried calamari squid was tender, had lots of flavour and was served with a tangy lemon mayonnaise. My plate of charcuterie had five types of meat, there were three salamis, ventricina, finocchiona and aquila and two hams, one plain roast and the other prosciutto Gran Sasso. The meat was garnished with rocket and served with a wedge of focaccia bread.

The mains had a good selection of pasta dishes together with meat and fish-based dishes. If you are looking for comfort food then the lasagne made with a slow-cooked beef and tomato ragù or the lamb shank, slow-cooked in a Chianti, tomato and black olive sauce, and served with saffron risotto could be just the things.

For our mains we both chose the seafood linguine with prawns, whole fresh mussels and squid in a tomato, crab and chilli sauce with bottarga, which is salted and dried fish roe. This was a hearty dish with lots of pasta and a rich, warming sauce.

The wine list, as you might expect, is all Italian, and very reasonably priced. The dishes we had chosen were 75% fish so the pairing with our food was a white, the Laluna, a sauvignon blanc from the Veneto region of Italy. There were strong aromas of citrus in the bouquet and these were joined on the palate by green apple and gooseberries and some good herbal notes. The well-balanced acidity gave the wine a crisp and fresh finish.

We were too full for a dessert but the menu had firm favourites like tiramisu and panna cotta, and pear and polenta cake with raspberry coulis if you wanted something more autumnal. For those who haven’t got a sweet tooth then a plate of ‘formaggi’, three Italian cheeses with truffle honey, pickled walnuts and ciappe crispbread were available.

So if you want some cuisine to warm you up in this chilly season, pay Carluccio’s a visit and try their autumn menu. The restaurants are very accessible with 75 branches in the UK.

2a Garrick St
Covent Garden
London WC2E 9BH