Carluccio’s Exclusive Launch Party – Review

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Canapés and prosecco flowed generously on Thursday at the exclusive launch party of the new Carluccio’s caffe in Mill Lane.

Gabriella Perez serves arancini

Cardiff stars including the BBC’s Rhodri Owen packed the glossy new restaurant to see if the latest London- export would live up to the hype.

Sadly one star was missing from the celebrations – chef Antonio Carluccio himself, who had been taken to hospital after falling ill.

But the cheerful staff did their bit to make sure the party still went on in style. They served Bellinis on arrival and kept copious amounts of canapés circulating to showcase the restaurant’s menu.

We were treated to bruschetta topped with tender beef carpaccio, king prawns wrapped in crispy pancetta and warm arancini, creamy risotto encased in crispy breadcrumbs and deep fried.

There were huge bowls of plump olives too, as well as mozzarella in balsamic vinegar and an entire parma ham which chef Robert Coles sliced while you waited and wrapped generously around grissini.

But the evening culminated in a special Italian-style hog roast, cooked outside by chefs braving the rain. With only just enough room to spare after all the canapés, we still loved the chunks of tender pork, served in salty focaccia with caramelised red onion chutney and rocket .

Chef Robert Coles carves parma ham

The restaurant was perhaps too full if anything, and the room had to be carefully navigated to avoid spilling Bellinis over other guests, but the food more than made up for it.

Managing director Simon Kosoff said the restaurant had only been open for a week but they had already been receiving good feedback.

He praised the city too, saying: “We think Cardiff is a vibrant and exciting place, and St David’s is at the centre of that. Tonight it’s a big party to say thank you to all the people who’ve made this happen, and a few friends as well.

Antonio is in hospital but he told me to send his good wishes to you all. It’s nothing serious and he should be out tomorrow.”

Carving the hog roast

The new Carluccio’s joins a host of Italian restaurants jostling for space near the new St David’s development, including Gio’s, Ask and most recently Jamie’s Italian.

But if the food at the launch is anything to go by, they should stand every chance of holding their own in Cardiff’s new Little Italy.


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