Laghi’s, Edgbaston

We weren’t wowed the first time we ate at Laghi’s. There, said it. Admittedly, it was a long time ago and we didn’t enjoy the slightly chaotic café energy at lunch – an unpopular opinion by all accounts.

However, the addition of super chef Leo Kattou to the kitchen and a more cohesive menu running from day to night tempted us back.

The place is still shrouded in scaffolding which isn’t a restaurateurs dream, but once inside it’s a little haven of loveliness – the lighting is winning, everyone/thing looks gorgeous, the staff are charming and while the restaurant’s small, the team has made it work beautifully.

It’s our first visit since Leo joined on the back of a long and successful stint at Simpsons, and while he isn’t trying to turn Laghi’s into the Michelin-starred Birmingham icon, the food is brilliant. For instance, oozing creamy burrata with caramelised fennel, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Shredded pork in a crisp coating topped with sweet matchsticks of pear, bitter chicory and a punchy mustardy sauce.

Or, how about rich carbonara with plenty of salty nuggets of bacon running through topped with oodles of grated cheese. Perfect cod with a crunchy hazelnut and truffle pesto crust served with earthy roasted Jerusalem artichokes and finally, a pork chop – unfathomably succulent, packed with flavour and served with a cep sauce so great we’d buy it by the bottle and slurp it through a straw on the daily. I couldn’t tell you about puds because we’d really had our fill by then, but I can recommend a fiery little digestiv called Willy Chilly which will send you off into the night with a warm fuzzy glow.

If it’s a neighbourhood restaurant that owner, Luca and the team were after, they’ve nailed it. It’s the sort of place you really want on your patch, preferably within walking distance from home. We’ve heard some criticism of it being pricey but, honestly, I think for the quality, the service and the experience, it’s reasonable. We went the whole hog and scrimped on nothing, but it’s the kind of place you can pop in and enjoy a delicious plate of food and a bottle of wine and leave just as happy.

Our knee jerk reaction on social media as we left the restaurant was ‘a proper neighbourhood restaurant with a big heart’ and we stand by that in the sober light of day. It’s superb.

LAGHI’S, 22-24 Islington Row, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1LD. Tel: 0121 455 0660