Ask Italian is a British owned style restaurant that focused on “Authentic Sicilian Kitchen” which is also the acronym of the ASK name, it’s part of the group that also owns Zizzi and Pizza Express. Its been around since 2004 but has been bought a couple of times and the companies group expands. The Restaurant we visited was based in Norwich.
Boo is quite a simple eater however over the years she has improved in her food choices, Italian is one of them. We both enjoy a selection of different Italian style dishes and between both of us most are in British style Italian restaurants. We have also been on the lookout for child-friendly places and was keen to investigate here and discuss whether it’s suitable for our 3 kids.
The restaurant looks stylish, it had two floors with the second being open when they are far more busier than when we visited. There were nice colours and quite open well-lit places in the restaurant, at no point did it feel crammed or unwelcoming, my only flip to this would be if I brought my kids here, I would be concerned that they would be disturbing the restaurant, there were no kids present on our visit. The facilities were fine as were the tables, oddly we didn’t have any oil or condiments on our table compared to others?
For Starters, I opted for Calamari, partly because I love Calamari, but also I wanted to see some comparison to other restaurants. This was accompanied by Garlic Mayonaise, this was delicious, one of the best Mayonaise I have had in a while, HOWEVER, the Calamari was probably the worst I’ve ever eaten.
I’m really unsure if this is normally how it’s made but the calamari itself was a bit rubbery, not a great start when it’s rubbery but this wasn’t the main problem. The coating felt like it hadn’t been cooked, it had no taste which was extremely strange, almost liked they had forgotten to season it. It was a little flakey but not in a good way, for something that had potentially been fried? really poor.
However, Boo choose Cheese Funduta (cheese Fondue for one), which had a garlic and herb crumb on top with Dough sticks to Dip. Quite simply this was delicious, I was able to try some and quite frankly I had chosen wrong. This was one of the best starts I have had, I’m a huge cheese fan though I’m dairy intolerant, Boo also enjoys cheese though the posher ones, however, this was fantastic, the sticks were cooked right and were great to dip, there was surprisingly more than we thought but not complaining. But overall fantastic as a starter.
For the Mains Boo choose a classic Linguine Carbonara, this has become one of her favourite dishes let alone Italian, once on the table a healthy amount of parmesan cheese finished it off. To be honest, though the amount was great the taste perhaps wasn’t at the same level, it was all bit meh, not too strong not too cheesy, the pancetta for me was fine though boo found it a little fatty and not necessarily brilliant.
With my main I went for the meatballs, Penne Al Manzo Piccante, I do like a good meatball and to be honest again, it perhaps wasn’t. The whole thing felt like it had been left in for a bit long or under the hot lights etc.. It was a little dry , the taste was fine , an the meant itself was also pretty ok but I wasn’t exactly wowed, it did take away some of the flavour but I still, on the whole, ate it, but my gut reaction was not to have it again.
For Deserts, I opted for Tiramisu, which is literally my favourite dessert and it didn’t let me down at all, it was a good size, a good kick of coffee, done very nicely. My only complaint is that I wanted more lol, for me this was easily the best dish that I had ordered.
For Boo she ordered the show stopper in Chocolate Etna, a Toffee sauce poured over a dark chocolate Cup hiding a Vanilla Gelato which sat on a chocolate Fondant, on paper fantastic, but again we had issues. The Cup was extremely cold, and the Toffee sauce was slightly warm, which as you can guess meant an issue, the cup didn’t implode, as per the picture this was taken a little time after pouring. Boo actually had to break through the cup with the spoon, inside the Fondant was ok, it was hot which was the theme of the dessert, the inside was just about oozing. It was ok but not that delightful show stopper you would expect.
The kid’s options looked pretty good, the meal deal that’s currently on offer include a main, starter, Dessert, and Babyccino. This is a good offer in the grand schemes of things, the selection is also pretty good, the starter is limited with one option however the main has a smile pizza, Choose your own pasta, chicken Goujons, Dip and Dunk pasta all pretty different and interesting. Also with the Desserts, they include a Chocolate Pizza, Tiptop ice cream, Ice lollies and chocolate banana Brownies. This seemed a really good menu for Children in variation and was a big plus point, only issue there were no children to in there to take note of the quality of dishes.
Overall our visits perhaps were not the best, each corse had issues and in reality, only a couple of dishes were spot on, perhaps we were unlucky, perhaps the chef wasn’t on the form. The starter was so good that I would be tempted to go back as was the Tiramisu, but maybe a different choice in the mains next time.
We thankfully took advantage of Meerkats meals offer, which was good as this isn’t a cheap Italian restaurant, it is not as expensive as some obviously, but still not a budget place. The service was ok, the decor was great but perhaps overwhelming for small kids as is the atmosphere, I’m keen to try the kid’s dishes but based on our meals I now have reservations.