Piccolino, Brindleyplace

Once upon a time, stranded in Brindleyplace with hungry bairns on a school night – long story – we began the painful hunt for sustenance that would please the whole gang. Obviously, there’s no shortage of restaurants, but the indecision of the species known as the tweenager was immense.

After much deliberation we plonked our tired behinds down in Piccolino for a bowl of pasta. ‘That’ll do,’ we thought. Nothing like carbs and a glass of vino (me not the kids) to improve the outlook. It turns out we frequent Piccolino so infrequently we’d forgotten how much we actually rate it. For a start, the lighting is ever-so flattering. Regardless of how harangued and haggard you might feel everyone looks attractive. I feel a filter called Piccolino Brindleyplace coming on.

Round tables with banquette seating run the length of the room is conducive to having a good time as was the plentiful selection of bread that included a punchy basil pesto for dipping flatbread, grissini, garlic and rosemary focaccia and ciabatta. A crowd-pleaser of considerable proportions. Giant green olives disappeared pronto in a blur of little hands stabbing at them with gay abandon. One of their five a day at least.

The kids went for more dough in the form of margherita pizzas. We snaffled a slice and can confirm it was properly delicious. A bit big for people who’d already devoured a fair amount of pane, but really great. Ravioli di zucca was another level of satisfying. The thinnest of pasta pillows with perfect bed-mates; butternut squash, sage butter, pecorino and walnuts. Some might say it was a bit heavy on the oil/butter, but not me. It was superb. You know when food tastes like people care about ingredients? That.

The mother-in-law wasn’t so blown away by risotto al funghi, but the main complaint was the size of the mushrooms – too big apparently – rather than the flavour. That was all there. Trofiette con pollo – pasta with chicken, pecorino cream and pine nuts – pleased the other half a lot and prompted him to declare ‘we’ll be coming here more often’. What began as an entirely necessary pitstop turned into an unexpected pleasure. The waiter was slightly grumpy mind you, but we put this down to a post-Xmas slump that, let’s face it, we all felt.

PICCOLINO, 9 Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS. Tel: 0121 634 3055 individualrestaurants.com/piccolino/birmingham