Food wise, you could say I’m part of the Jamie Oliver generation. A glug of “olive oil”, “pukka” and the naked chef are all intrinsically woven into my foodie vocabulary and Jamie’s somewhat simple but flavoursome recipes created a foundation of quick n easy recipes to replace frozen or ready made PING meals in my household.
Following the success of numerous shows featuring the naked chef and the opening of Jamie’s Kitchen, Jamie’s Italian opened in 2008 and now boasts 35 restaurants across the UK and globally in the likes of UAE, Australia, Ireland, Russia, Turkey, Singapore and Hong Kong. Impressive stuff right?
Situated on Paradise Street smack bang in the middle of Liverpool One lending it’s culinary services to hungry shoppers and evening diners alike, we visited Jamie’s Italian Liverpool on a Monday our bellies ravenous and looking forward to the delights that Jamie had to offer.
After coming back from Venice in March, my taste buds were left well and truly longing for Italian cuisine. With a menu full of Italian dishes from carne (meat), pasta, insalata (salad) and verdura (vegetables) and an assortment of side dishes, I can’t deny that I’d already logged on to the restaurants menu prior to visiting. For y’know, research purposes.
Rather than order individual starters we opted to order two of the sharing planks – The Cured Meats Plank featuring loaded with a selection of meats: fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante and the Seasonal Vegetable Plank which included sliced, chargrilled veggies inculding peppers and courgettes in marinated in a herby olive oil. Both planks were served with a selection of mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, a beautiful selection of pickles, olives & crunchy kale slaw. These planks were delicious – I find sharing dishes like these a brilliant way to try out lots of different dishes and allows you to experiment with food you may might never usually order. Stand outs for me? I especially enjoyed the saltiness of the Pecorino cheese against the sweet but spicey taste of the chilli jam. I also got over my underwhelmed feelings towards mozzarella. I can quite easily go to town on the starters and filled myself on small sized snacks/side dishes – they’re called cichetti in Venice and are often enjoyed in a traditional bacari.
For mains we mixed carne (meat) dishes with some pasta dishes – because who can go to an Italain and not sample a pasta dishes. Not I and certainly not my brother. I’ll run you down a few of the dishes were ordered… Turkey Milanese stuffed with prosciutto & fontal cheese, breadcrumbed & fried with a free-range egg & wild truffle Italian steak frites :marinated & chargrilled featherblade steak, italian-spiced skinny fries, pickles & crunchy kale slaw. Porcini fettuccine: wild mushrooms, mascarpone, garlic, white wine, lemony gremolata, parmesan & herby breadcrumbs
My brother, ever the perfectionist ordered a small pasta dish from the specials menu followed by an small salad. Spaghetti nero di seppia (spaghetti with squid ink) was a dish taken from the specials menu which is spaghetti flavoured with the ink from a squid which adds a deep black glow to the spaghetti. He followed this with the Colwick bresaola salad with elegant slices of cured beef, artichoke, colwick cheese, crushed almonds, aged balsamic, ricotta & a leafy salad. Although many people serve salad before or with their main meal, Italians tend to eat salad at the end of the meal be a refreshing round up to the meal.
Does anybody else completely over order sides? Good. I’m glad its not just me. We couldn’t quite make up our minds when it came to side dishes so we more or less ordered everything on the menu. Polenta is massive in Venice, they serve it wet, fried and grilled and it can be quite rare to find it served on a menu in the UK so the Polenta chips with rosemary & parmesan were an easy choice. They’re extremely crisp on the outside with a fluffy texture on the inside. They’re not over loaded with flavour but they’re a nice alternative to chips, or to go alongside a serving of the funky and super chunky hand cut triple cooked chips with rosemary and garlic. Delish.
It’s very rare that I’ll turn down a dessert. When my fellow diners are rubbing their bellies and shaking their head at the mere mention of a dessert menu, I’ m the one nodding and reeling off my order in anticipation. “Chocolate, pear & honeycomb pavlova for me!” I said before devouring the light & fluffy meringue served with poached pears, whipped mascarpone, honeycomb & a drizzle of dark chocolate.
Dan ordered the Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake (that I of course I had to sample under the pretence of review purposes), a lemon cheesecake made from velvety mascarpone topped with italian meringue served with lemon curd & blackcurrants is a citrusy, tarte treat for the tastebuds and combines my two loves. Lemon meringue and cheesecake – a match made in heaven right?
Completely full to the brim now and all but bursting out of my jeans, we enjoyed a small glass of grappa, an Italian grape based pomace of brandy that is sure to put hairs on your chest that is traditionally enjoyed by the Italians after a meal as it is believed that grappa aids digestion.
Taking along my brother “the chef” to a restaurant is always somewhat of an eventful experience. He knows his food, his flavours, what works and what doesn’t and he’s not shy to question the poor unassuming waiters and waitresses. “Where is this from?” “Do you mind if I get half of this dish and then the salad from this dish?” and of course the fully loaded question: “What would YOU recommend I order from this menu?” often leave the wait staff mumbling “let me just find out” or helpfully suggesting that “it’s all good!”
Our waiter and font of all Jamie inspired knowledge for the evening came in the form of Adam, a glowing representation for the JO empire with a wealth of foodie related under his apron who fielded my brothers
Spanish Italian inquisition like an absolute pro. No question was too small and he was super attentive but not in a “shut up and just let me get on with my meal for 2 minutes before I seriously start docking your tip” kind of way. He even discussed the intricacies of the up and coming menu and the choice of cheese served with a particular dish. The best part of it? Sometimes you can tell when you’re reviewing for a company that your waiter or waitress has had a special talking to be extra attentive but Adam genuinely had no idea until the end of the evening that we were dining for review and he was flabbergasted. To know that that is the level of service given to all customers is amazing, especially considering in some places your wait person can just about manage a smile.
Jamie’s Italian Liverpool was a pleasure to eat in. The food was packed full of flavour, the staff were welcoming and attentive and the whole restaurant just embodied the Jamie Oliver brand and his vivacious approach to food.
* part of our bill at Jamie’s Italian was covered for review purposes. This does not reflect my review and my opinion is honest and entirely my own, as always.