How many Italian restaurants in Birmingham does it take to fall in foodie love? Only the one, and I was lucky enough to be invited down to review their dining experience.
Nestled away behind an array of gorgeous flower beds and hanging baskets (almost like walking into the Chelsea Flower Show) is Pasta de Piazza, on St Pauls’ Square. It’s a pretty sizable venue which is perfect for what it is; an Italian restaurant designed for big meals with big groups. There’s a very authentic feel to the place with its wooden furniture, brick work and Italian paraphernalia on the walls. Downstairs, there’s a wine cellar which had my nose pressed up against the glass looking at for a good five minutes. It’s pretty impressive if I say so myself.
The Food & Drink
I love Italian food. I will say this again in this review. It’s everything I believe that makes a good meal (an abundance of carbs). I was thrilled when the waiter brought over a bread basket and some olive oil and balsamic to munch on whilst we looked over the menu. The play-by-play went like this. Also, instead of repeating myself, let me say now that every single portion is GENEROUS.
To start we tried out the gnocchi di patate at £6.50. These were really good, if a little salty, but moreish. Instead of boiling, they pan-fry the gorgeous little potato dumplings and top with generous amounts of pecorino. It was then onto crab meat and smoked salmon at (£8.95). I loved this because next to carbs, avocado is my second favourite thing and this ticked all the boxes on taste when sandwiched between white crab meat and lovingly topped with smoked salmon.
For mains I went for a pizza, specifically the Adriatica. This is a mixed seafood pizza topped with prawns, spring onion, mussels and of course mozzarella at £10.95. Piping hot, and thin with a scattering of toppings, this plate showed humble Italian dining at its finest. If you’re going to eat here, go slowly, because there’s not one course I would say you should skip. We also tried the casarecce al salmone; a gloriously bright green plate of watercress, mascarpone and smoked salmon with homemade pesto and lemon, served with pasta £11.19. Again, this tasted really good, but given the decadent nature of the meal, it was quite heavy and if you’re going all out on the courses, just be mindful that you might have to be rolled out of the place.
You can’t have an Italian meal without tiramisu; I don’t care how retro it is. I had the tiramisu casalingo and no part of me (except maybe the buttons on my jeans), was sorry. Their version of this classic pudding comes with sponge soaked in brandy, Sambuca and amaretto with espresso, layered with mascarpone cheese & cream (yes, you read that right). Oh boy, this was a real treat and came perfectly paired with a glass of dessert wine. In overall coverage? They clearly source and import a large proportion of the ingredients directly from Italy, and you can really tell in comparison to perhaps a chain restaurant that has to go for quantity and consistency over real hearty quality.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
This is truly a wicked venue for group bookings and bigger parties. There’s guaranteed to be something on the menu for everyone, and Italian restaurants are known for that lively, hearty, big group atmosphere, and you definitely get that here. There’s a very definite buzz that perfectly pairs with the food for a humble yet appreciative dining experience.
Everything about this place is traditional and honest. I think it’s safe to say that most people like Italian food (I could be bias, carbs are my life) and it's great to find a restaurant in Birmingham doing that premise right. Between the friendly staff, the gorgeous venue, the social vibe, the really tasty food and the clearly very happy customers, this place is a not-so-little gem.