Let’s be honest, Birmingham isn’t really synonymous with authentic Italian food. Having said that, I recently enjoyed a cosy supper at Pasta Di Piazza that warmed my cynical heart.
I’ve had a fairly mixed experience with Italian food in central Birmingham, it must be said. While I’m a big fan of Laghi’s Deli, I’ve had less impressive meals at the likes of Cucina Rustica – the latter being just yards away from Pasta Di Piazza, which sits slightly adrift from St Paul’s Square.
My first thought about this restaurant compared to others in the city is that, aesthetically, it actually felt quite authentic to some of the places my husband and I had eaten in when we were in Rome earlier this year. Tables sit close together, with an atmosphere of comfort and homeliness – despite the occasional spotlight shining so brightly it was like being a rock star on stage. I imagine..
Unfortunately, we did end up sat directly under one of these lights (as the photos on this post illustrate) but cest la vie. Most impressive about this Italian restaurant, was that it was absolutely heaving on a mid week evening. And I do mean bursting to the seams from 7pm. There are numerous restaurants across the city that would die to be this busy on a Wednesday evening, let alone one in Saint Paul’s Square.
After a delicious glass of Shiraz we kicked off our Italian feast with starters including mussels and salmon. From the specials board, a bowl brimming with plump mussels came swimming in a light garlic and white wine sauce with a splash of cream. A basic but well executed starter that packed a flavour punch, and at around 7 quid you just can’t argue with the value. A second starter of crab and salmon with avocado was perhaps not as exciting as the other options on the menu, despite being presented beautifully, and in hindsight I do wish I’d ordered something a little more fun or authentic. In my defence, because I was aware I was having a large pasta dish for my main course, I tried to pick something light. Many of the starters here are quite decadent so this would be a good option for somebody who is watching their waistline, perhaps.
Being absolute pasta fiends, Ian and I opted for this over pizza. Having seen the man on the table next to us devour and insanely good looking cannelloni, I was almost tempted to ditch my seafood linguine order, but I decided to stay true to my instincts. The pasta – which I’m told is made in house – was al dente, and the dish came packed with juicy king prawns, mussels and squid. The tomato sauce was pleasant without being exceptional, and I found myself adding black pepper and a sprinkling of Parmesan to give a bit more life. That’s not to say that the sauce wasn’t satisfying, far from it, it was just missing a little something flavour wise; I was expecting it to taste more of garlic than it did. I still very much enjoyed the dish and the portion was more than generous. The husband enjoyed his squid ink linguine, although the squid itself was a little rubbery in parts. We both agreed that we happily come back and try more from the pasta menu at another date, Ian specifically really enjoying the venue.
For dessert we decided to combine sweet and savoury, choosing the Dolcelatte blue cheese served with biscuits and the semi fredo: a nougat ice cream covered with hazelnut praline served with crushed amaretto biscuits. The sweet pudding was creamy but sickly, and (as I’ve said before) I loathe boxed wafers in ice cream. They make desserts look cheap and serve no purpose – totally personal gripe but can we please just sack these awful things off now? The Italian cheese however was truly delicious; a creamy and soft blue veined dream.
Overall the food was of a good standard and the service was very warm and welcoming. We left a generous tip upon leaving because the two people who served us throughout the evening had been absolutely delightful; perhaps this is one of the reasons they are so busy mid week. I would have no hesitation in coming back here to try more of their pasta dishes – the menu is well priced and there’s a lovely wine list.
This place doesn’t quite match up to Laghi’s Deli for me food wise, but it’s not bad at all. Don’t forget to check the daily specials board for some added treats you won’t find on the main menu, and ask for a table in the flower lined window if you want the best seats in the house.
Pasta Di Piazza, 11 Brook Street, Birmingham, B3 1SA
Disclosure: This meal was complementary for review purposes. I was not asked to write a favourable review (you know me, I’m always honest anyway) and all opinions, words and (badly lit) photos are my own