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Subpages for Restaurant Reviews ~ Midlands:

A family run Italian in the heart of the city

When you’re out and about with the family in a busy shopping centre, finding somewhere decent to eat can quite frankly be impossible!

Del Villaggio -a taste of Italy

Del Villaggio - a taste of Italy

The new Spiceal Street in Birmingham’s Bullring has undoubtedly added a few more interesting options to the menu; however there has been a family run Italian restaurant right under our noses for the past four years!

Del Villaggio is on the first floor of Bullring and accessible from the street too, which also makes it a useful option for post shopping refuelling. All the food is freshly cooked and you are warned that dishes will take 15-20 minutes to prepare.

I decided to put it to the test by going on a busy Saturday lunchtime with a friend and two children. We arrived quite early and the restaurant was still quiet – something that concerned me initially given its location.

The staff seemed pleasant and friendly and certainly welcomed the children (aged 5 and 9) so we were off to a good start. There was a little uncertainly about where to sit but we soon go over that and were shown to our table.

Once seated I noticed that they have three floors to fill; a downstairs bar area, that looked rather exciting, and an mezzanine floor upstairs that would be perfect for parties – I wondered if they ever got full.

We settled down to read the menu; the staff were on the ball as they had been over twice within 5 minutes to ask if we were ready to order – did they know something I didn’t?

We ordered Mozzarella in Carozza £5.95, Antipasto All’Italiana £7.95 and Garlic Bread £2.99, as we thought these would be good sharing options and I always find this is the best way to get children to try something new without any hassle.

The fried mozzarella was served with green sauce (yes that’s what it said on the menu and I forgot to note what it actually was), mixed leaves and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar, nicely presented but lacking anything

Fried Mozzarella

Fried Mozzarella

special. The traditional Italian plate of mixed cured pork, again served on a bed of mixed salad, was enjoyable. A varied selection and all fresh and tasty however garlic bread – a pizza base, topped with garlic and oregano was to dry for me. That said, the girls polished off the lot with no complaints and we discovered the five year old likes parma ham – a lot!

The restaurant was filling up fast, the staff obviously knew something I didn’t and had been trying to get ahead of the game. The lower floor and ground floor were almost full, extra staff were starting work and they were opening up the mezzanine level.

As we had shared what was essentially two starters between four of us I hadn’t really taken much notice of the portion sizes until the main courses arrived.

As my Risotto al Salmone £11.95, appeared I realised just how much food you get for your money here. The Agnello Alla Brace £14.95 with Saute Potato £2.95 was a more reasonable portion size, however the children’s meals were positively gargantuan. Six fish fingers for a five year old – really? Her eyes nearly popped out of her head at the mountain of food, if you have very hungry kids this place is ideal!

My risotto – arborio rice with king prawns, garlic, parsley and fresh smoked salmon – was very tasty but I wasn’t expecting it to be as heavy on the tomatoes. It was well prepared but I was daunted by the size (unusual I know). I barely made a dent in it. The flavours were good, a bit rich for my personal taste, but I couldn’t enjoy it when I was worrying about wasting so much.

I did still manage to have food envy though – story of my life! The grilled rack of lamb with garlic, chilli, rosemary and cherry tomatoes served in a red wine demi glace sauce and saute potatoes with with pancetta and onions was delicious and a perfectly sized portion. The lamb was tender, full of flavour and well cooked while the bacon-flavoured potatoes provided the perfect accompaniment.

Meanwhile the place had almost filled up so clearly the people of Birmingham appreciate the fresh food and large portions.

Back to the children. All children’s food is served with chips and a small soft drink, as long as they are under the age of 12, and costs £6.95.

I was disappointed in the choice as I really believe that offering half sized and priced portions is the way forward and had hoped for that in a family-run Italian. The nine year old ‘s Lasagna Ragu was admittedly delicious, and yes I did steal some, but it was a large lasagna even for an adult without the accompanying chips.

The food here is good, it’s fresh and you certainly get a lot of it. It’s worth a visit and I will go back for the grown up version of the lasagna. And by the way – I certainly didn’t notice a wait for any of the courses but it’s nice to have the warning!

Bullring Middle Mall Unit 528, Birmingham.
Tel: 0121 643 1400
www.del-villaggio.co.uk

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