There’s an old school Italian restaurant like Zio Pin’s on nearly every high street in the UK.
You know the score – they’re places of familiarity when you’re craving a large plate of comfort food and an even bigger glass of booze.
Zio Pin’s does some things very well – the serving team were hugely welcoming and the bar area has had a bright modern makeover since my last visit a few years ago. However, some of the dishes we ate were a bit average…
Excellent, warm crusty homemade bread slathered with soft butter and a large glass of seriously quaffable house red (£4.25) kicked off the meal on a very positive note.
A starter of arancini (£5.45) was a well-flavoured piece of homely cooking – the risotto balls, flecked with bolognese and ham, were topped with a fresh tasting tomato sauce and melted cheese. However, the soggy crumb coating and overcooked rice were a big letdown.
Whilst Mrs G’s starter wasn’t easy on the eye, it tasted much better. A generous portion of prawns and baby mushrooms (£5.75) were coated in a flavour-packed sauce of garlic and white wine.
Mains were the strongest suit.
A brick of lasagne (£8.95) was everything it should be – tender pasta, creamy béchamel, meaty bolognese and oozy cheese.
Mrs G’s main, Penne Zio Pin (£9.45), saw al dente pasta and a deliciously light sauce of chicken, pancetta and tomato.
Unfortunately, things came tumbling down with what should have been a very interesting pair of desserts.
Chocolate Nemesis (£4.50), as made famous by the legendary River Café, was a fridge cold lump of overly-rich solid chocolate cake.
Limoncello tart (£4.50) was even worse – an average lemon tart was spoiled by a shot of limoncello which had been poured over the top. Soggy pastry and the harsh taste of alcohol were the notable features.
There’s a lot I like about Zio Pin – I’ll most certainly go back for a plate of lasagne and a pint or two in their bar. However, I’ll definitely be giving their dessert board a miss.
Address - Zio Pin, 74 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RS
Telephone - 02920 485673
Web - http://ziopin.com/