Having set our eyes (and stomachs) on Pizza Express and realising how busy the restaurant was, me and my boyfriend were pleasantly surprised to find the new Carluccio’s tucked away from the other major chain restaurants that reside on Portsmouth’s waterfront. With a rather enticing fixed price menu of £10.95 we decided to give the newly established diner a chance. We were both glad we did.
The customer service was excellent, within minutes we had been greeted and seated and were able to order what we fancied quickly. Additionally, the waitresses were friendly and approachable. What I loved most about the service however was how each one of the servers kept their own personalities as they worked. Most restaurants I have been to keep a rather professional and formal approach to orders whereas this one allowed for the customers to make a closer connection to their server.
Carluccio’s has a selection of red, white, sparkling and rosé wines some of which are exclusive to the restaurant. Perhaps limited in its bottled beer range which appeared to only sell different Peroni products, Carluccio’s made up for it with the sizes of the beer you could order with the largest bottle being 660ml. After a short wait with our drinks already poured and opened, our starters were put in front of us. My ‘Primi’ of Focaccia All’Aglio described in the menu as chargrilled garlic bread was delicious, however, it became evident that the pair of rather large pieces of bread were too much for one customer. My boyfriend on the other hand, enjoyed his marinated olives which were fresh and did not follow the tradition of some restaurants which buy their brine-drowned olives in bulk from a supermarket. The restaurant therefore delivered on their promise that each dish uses the freshest seasonal ingredients and it wasn’t applied simply to the starter either. My main of Penne Alla Luganica; a spicy sausage sauce with penne pasta, was evidently fresh which made the dish a joy to savour and eat. Since the rest of the meal had been so successful, both I and my partner decided to risk pudding and Carluccio’s did not hold out. The desserts we chose were both a delight to eat. Their melt in the mouth tiramisu was one of the best I have tried, second only to authentic restaurants in Italy. Additionally, their Crostata Al Limone; a lemon tart was also tasty; however, similar to the starter, an entire tart was perhaps too rich for one person but a perfect choice to decide on as a sharer while on a date.
Carluccio’s proved itself to be a great surprise location for a date night not only because of its quality of food and filling dishes but because of its atmosphere. Candle lit dinners coupled with the opportunity for quiet, personal discussions allowed for a romantic atmosphere. Additionally, the ferries coming into the harbour and the Spinnaker Tower juxtaposed with pictures of Florentine rooftops gave the restaurant a rather beautiful and serene quality which makes Carluccio’s unique.
Having started as a fall back choice, Carluccio’s will certainly be our first choice for a romantic Italian date in Gunwharf Quays perhaps ahead of certain other chain Italian restaurants which are increasing in price and decreasing in quality.
For a full menu of this establishment please visit the Gunwharf Quays menu