Sunday, 9 March 2014

Cicchetti, Radyr restaurant review

It’s thanks to Restaurant Man Russell Norman and his Polpo small-chain’s successful formula of booze-friendly food, cool venues and trendy staff that Cicchetti or “Italian tapas” have become so trendy.

Now, Cardiff has it’s own small plate gaff called... Cicchetti.

Owned by the well-respected Trattoria Group who have existing outposts in Talbot Green and Pontypridd, Cicchetti have cannily spotted a gap in the market in Radyr, which has been crying out for a decent restaurant.

First impressions are all important, and Cicchetti produces the goods.

The breezy buzz of conversation; a bright interior melding contemporary and traditional; a cute bar where you can perch for a Peroni; and a laden deli counter all give the feeling that Cicchetti is a place you’d happily spend an evening. 

A pre-dinner Campari spritz (£4.50) successfully balanced the sweetness of prosecco and the bitter ming of the dark red liqueur whilst a couple of moreish homemade grissini – crisp in places and bready in others – helped keep the wolf from the door.

Cicchetti’s menu is a peculiar beast – whilst half of it is devoted to small plates, the other half is made up of the familiar (yet admittedly exciting looking) selection of pizza, paste, carne & pesce.

Therefore, with no explanation, it’s not clear whether Cicchetti regard their small plates as starters (how they were referred to by the friendly waitress) or as the building blocks for a standalone meal…

Of course, we ditched the mains and launched in with a selection of the smaller plates.

Crisp crocchette (£4.25), filled with a light, cheesy potato mixture, were served with a vibrant summer-coloured mustard mayo.

A solid selection of Italian meats (£5.95) included bresaola, a couple of salamis, mortadella and a superb prosciutto. Mrs G’s plank of just ham (£5.95) was therefore an even stronger option. Accompanying breads were fine but neither the crustiest nor the softest.

An aubergine stack (£3.95) made from layers of tender aubergine, melted mozzarella and a peppy tomato sauce was a bob-on piece of Italian comfort food.

A whopper of an arancino (£4.25) filled with meat ragu and oozy cheese was a little stodgy but equally comforting.

Fritto Misto (£5.25) included some of the most tender octopus I’ve ever eaten. In contrast, the squid and mussels were run of the mill and an advertised accompanying saffron aioli never materialised.

Last up was an excellent frittata which nestled perfectly tender potatoes amongst its eggy goodness (£4.95).

For those with an eye for greenery, it’s also worth noting that rocket is served with every single plate - a whole salad bag’s worth for dinner therefore gets a little repetitive.

Desserts, a sharp lemon tart (£3.50) & a raspberry tartlet (£3.50) were perfectly tasty but lacked the Italian charm of the rest of the meal.

I really like Cicchetti. Whilst the food certainly wasn't faultless and the concept needs a little more clarity, the atmosphere more than makes up for it.

The details:

Address - Cicchetti, Station Road, Radyr
Telephone - 029 2084 8773


  1. Had one meal, going again this weekend. Loved the atmosphere, staff appeared to like their jobs and were a happy bunch. Food very enjoyable with reasonable choice for vegetarian son. Very enjoyable Chianti. Radyr rocks!!!!!

    1. @Ann - Thanks for sharing your experience - glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Embarrassingly poor treatment - completely out of order
    As a Radyr resident I have eaten here many times, as let's face it we aren't spoilt for choices of places to eat out locally.
    My friends and I often joke about the service, which is always 'hit and miss' Usually average (on a good day) to poor, but usually we laugh it off.
    But yesterday evening I had booked a table with a friend who wasn't from Radyr. I can only say I was completely embarrassed by the way we were treated.
    We had booked for 7pm and arrived a few minutes late (max 10 mins) and apparently our table had been given away. Yet people arriving after us were seated before us.
    When we enquired as to why, we were not really given a satisfactory answer.
    I can only conclude that as my friend's face does not fit the 'Radyr' look we received what felt like discriminatory treatment.
    I was so embarrassed and will not be returning and letting everyone know about our treatment.