Piccolino Birmingham

When you get an invite to the finest Italian restaurant Birmingham has to offer you know things are looking up.

Piccolino Birmingham opened a few years ago.  It sits right in the culinary epicenter of Birmingham, Brindley place.  In fact, it sits right opposite it’s sister restaurant, Bank.  Not only that, it has Jamie’s Italian newly arrived in the city and Carluccio’s just around the corner.  Clearly it has to stay cutting edge to keep ahead of the game.

Their latest idea, sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka, are courses in cocktail mixology.  Knowing as I do, that mixing drinks is tremendous fun, they should be on to a winner with that.

The Spring season is now well underway.  Valentine’s day is an expensive memory, Mother’s day is ahead of us with Easter hot on it’s heels.  So busy times ahead for these boys and girls.

I arrived, chilled to the bone, on a recent Saturday evening.  The manager, Shazma, must have noticed as she was good enough to seat me facing the pizza oven next to the open kitchen.

I had opted for the lunchtime menu, which was still in operation especially for me.  The main menu is full of Italian wonders for the pallette.  Everything from pan-fried Swordfish to Tuscan sausages.  They also have a very extensive (though inexpensive) wine list.

As I said they had an open kitchen, and before me the Pizza chef was busy doing his thing.  The clay Pizza oven behind him was on full and he must have been roasting, but he seemed unperturbed and cool as a cucumber.  I don’t know how he coped, seriously.

To start I had the pan-fried Calamaris on a bed of rocket.  It arrived in a very reasonable time frame and was suitably delicious.  Even the little crunchy tenticles!Pan-frying Calamaris isn’t easy, two seconds two long and it can go like rubber, but these guys and girls were pros.

The girls on the table next to me were having a bit of a ponder of what to order so the waiter called one of the chefs out.  He did a better job of selling the dish, I feel he was wasted cooped up in the kitchen.  I don’t know if she got his number, but I she sure asked.

Just outside the kitchen they had a proper Italian prosciutto ham slicer, with a big hunk of meat ready to go.  Every ten minutes the chefs came out to slice off a plateful.  Now this is what you call fresh.

While waiting for my main course I had a look around the place.  The whole place, toilets especially, were in an excellent state of repair.

By the time I got back my main course was nearly ready.  I had gone for the chicken and prosciutto kebabs on a bed of ragu.  Chicken and prosciutto are one of those winning combinations that works so well as long as it isn’t overdone.  Naturally, it wasn’t, they could probably cook it blindfold.  The ragu was not too heavy or too rich, and was clearly home made.

I had no complaints about the service at all.  I did notice that they wore no name badges, which is a bold move on somebody’s part.  But they were all friendly, smiley and immaculate, which isn’t always easy, believe me.

I finished off with a nice frothy Cappuchino, good and rich, with a half-topping of cocoa.  I am a bit of a geek when it comes to how people top their coffee.  Blame Starbucks.

By the time I was ready to go the trickle of customers had turned into the Saturday night tsunami, so I let them get on with it.  Ever seen a warship go to action stations?  Imagine restaurant staff that well drilled and you have a good idea what I am talking about..

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