I can’t believe I’m 28 years old – how scary is that?! Time is absolutely flying at the moment!!
I turned 28 on July 8th and we had planned a really lovely weekend in Bristol for it, however when it came to it, I was just too shattered and we had to cancel – I just needed to stay at home and rest a bit or I was going to cross the line into actual clinical exhaustion, I’m convinced of it!
As we had cancelled our lovely weekend, M started looking at local restaurants (bless him, he was determined that my birthday wasn’t going to go by un-celebrated!) and after scrolling through TripAdvisor, he found L’Olivo Ristorante Italiano, the number 1 rated restaurant in the region, and called up to book. They were fully booked on the actual weekend (which we had kinda expected) but had some space in the week following, so we booked a table for the Thursday night and I spent the week running up to it lusting over the menu online!
On the Thursday evening we both got all dressed up (the blessing of going after my actual birthday meant I could wear the wonderful jumpsuit that my parents had sent up, as well as the gorgeous earrings that my youngest sister, Gemma, had given me, and the lovely bangle that my other sister, Eloise, had sent up – I’m a lucky girl!) and hopped in the car. It was only about 25 minutes away and M said he would drive, not that either of us were planning on drinking more than one anyway (Firstly it was a weeknight and we were both working the next day, and secondly I’m not sure alcohol and exhaustion go too well!)
The restaurant itself was stunning – I was particularly enamoured with the light fixtures which I desperately want to find online and buy for when we eventually buy a house (a good year or so away yet!)
We picked our drinks from the drinks menu; a beer for him and a peach bellini for me (well, it was my birthday dinner!) and settled to look at the menu. Oh my goodness, even after lusting over it all week, I really struggled choosing what I wanted – there was just so much choice and so many things that sounded absolutely DELICIOUS!
We decided to share a bread basket while we worked out what we wanted to eat; when you are in a proper Italian restaurant, you just have to indulge in proper freshly made Italian bread with olive oil and balsamic – and this bread basket was a step above the rest, with fresh ciabatta, rosemary and salt crusted breadsticks, cheese toasted cracker rings and a really thin crisp bread (the only way I can describe it is almost like a popadom) All of the breads were stunning and you could just tell the quality of the Olive Oil; honestly, if we had it at home, all I would eat would be bread and oil…I’d be the size of a house but I’d be happy!
Finally I managed to make a decision on my starter and decided to go for the ‘Polpette’; Home made beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, served with toasted ciabatta. It was completely delicious! The sauce was rich and thick, the meatballs were perfectly flavoured, you could certainly tell the quality of the meat from the incredible meaty flavour, and the bread was wonderfully crisp and drizzled with even more olive oil (yes, I was definitely a happy girl!)
M went for the ‘Prosciutto’; Thinly sliced Parma Ham with Buffalo Mozzarella. There is something about the sight of an actual ball of mozzarella that makes my mind immediately think of high quality ingredients, no matter how it is served. This dish looked simple and delicious. Slices of Parma Ham and a perfect ball of mozzarella, with a few nicely placed leaves to add some extra colour to the plate – it looked amazing and the empty plate afterwards was a testament to M being a fan too!
For the main course I really really struggled to make a decision. The menu has both a section for Pasta & Risotto Dishes and a section for Main Course dishes, so essentially, two sections of absolutely incredible sounding dishes to decide from! Jumping out at me was the ‘Lasagna’ (yes, ok, not hugely original but it’s a classic for a reason, right?!), the ‘Salsiccia’ (Pasta Twists with Italian Spiced Sausage, Broccoli, Mushrooms and Parmesan Shavings – umm, yum!) and the ‘Bronzino’ (Fresh Sea Bass Fillet in a Delicate White Wine and Lemon Juice Sauce, Fresh Asparagus and Prawn Risotto – sounds incredible too!)
Finally, I managed to make up my mind and went for the ‘Gamberoni Thermidor’; Peeled King Prawns in a Thermidor Style Sauce, served with a nest of Linguine Pasta. Oh my goodness was this amazing. The sauce was creamy and thick, with perfect flavourings to complement the prawns, and LOOK AT THOSE PRAWNS! Seriously, scummy little prawns sprinkled on the top and MASSIVE King Prawns baked in the sauce, with perfectly soft fresh linguine pasta, all topped in parmesan at the table – Oh my goodness YUM! Seriously indulgent, but I absolutely loved this. I eat a lot of seafood and this may well we the best seafood dish I’ve ever eaten! It was just completely stunning. There are simply no more words!
For Main course, M went for the ‘Saltimbocca’; Veal escalopes topped with Parma Ham, Mozzarella Cheese, Marsala wine, Served with either Mash or Chunky Potatoes (M went for the Chunky Potatoes). This also looked completely delicious, and M loved it. Rich Veal Escalopes with a soft sauce and the chunky potatoes – what’s not to love?! We also ordered a side of Creamed Sautéed Spinach with Garlic which was really lovely too and went well with both our dishes – YUM!
When offered the dessert menu, there was literally not even a question on our minds – we were having pudding – with food this good, we just had to!
I chose the ‘Chocolate Cup with Amaretto and Coffee’ and I was so pleased that I did. It was like a Chocolate Mousse but without the bubbles; deliciously rich and chocolatey with a hint of coffee, topped with a scoop of proper Italian gelato and sprinkled with amaretti biscuit crumbs. It was absolutely stunning!
M went for the ‘Lemon Tart’ (he loves anything lemon-y!) and that also looked wonderful; light and fluffy whilst also being rich and flavourful – and he also got a scoop of the delicious gelato (which is just as well, because he wasn’t getting any of mine!)
We were so so impressed with our whole experience at L’Olivo Ristorante Italiano – and for the number 1 rated restaurant in the region, it really wasn’t that pricey! We had a drink each, shared a huge bread basket and then had three courses each and it only came to about £45 a head – very good value indeed for such incredible quality.
We both said as we got in the car to drive home that we will definitely go back, most probably when either of our parents come to visit next; it’s definitely somewhere they would love! (Though how I will manage to order anything other than the Gamberoni Thermidor when we go back I don’t know – seriously delicious!)
This was the best Birthday treat; and I felt truly spoilt! Thanks for finding this wonderful restaurant, M, it was the perfect perfect way to celebrate! I’m a very lucky girl!
This is not a sponsored post, I simply wanted to share as the food was so spectacular and it was such a wonderful evening.
L’Olivo Ristorante Italiano can be found at 135 Marford Road, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, AL4 8NH. Their website is at www.lolivo-restaurant.com. They can also be found over on Facebook.