If you’d asked me before lunch whether I’d be excited by a chip made of polenta the answer would be categorically no.
Polenta in any form, not least a fried cuboid, is not my thing (sorry, was not my thing). Tucked away at the Fiveways end of Broad Street, Italian restaurant Del Villaggio might not be on your radar. Perhaps overshadowed by the development of the lower, more polished end of the street, you’d be forgiven.
Firstly, I need to mention that the special two-course lunch menu costs a ridiculous £7.95 – no more than a standard sandwich and a coffee. My expectations plummeted. With the mantra ‘you get what you pay for’ whizzing round in my head, a bowl of delicious olives arrived and lifted the spirits. The chef prepared a selection of dishes from the menu allowing us to try things we might not ordinarily have ordered. We were treated to farfalle con pollo e gamberetti. The pasta was cooked in a cream and tomato sauce with pieces of chicken and fat juicy prawns. It was tasty. Gnocchi was tossed in a rich dolcelatte sauce with spinach and walnuts which won over my cheese-loving friend. It was superb. The garlic and herb pizza bread was lovely and the Barese pizza adorned with salami and black olives was moreish. The pizza dough is a bit of a speciality here and it’s pretty perfect. Then the polenta chips. One word – revelatory.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Run by award-winning chef Simon Bishop, you’d expect the food to be up to scratch, but the attention to detail is impressive, too. For example, when sourcing the right flour for the pizza base they tried more than 20 before settling on the ‘one’. So while it might look like an average Italian restaurant, it punches well above its weight and price tag and is definitely worth seeking out.