Pinnochio, Mailbox

In that weird New Year fog, we shuffled off to Pinnochio not really knowing what day it was for a bit of a last hurrah before the onslaught of the dreaded early morning alarm clock. The kids were as confused as we were, so Italian food seemed the soothe all, please all option.

The place was much larger than it looked from the outside (140-plus covers) and when we visited the room was quiet with just a couple of other tables occupied. Having said that, it was every restaurant’s early January graveyard slot, so I doubt whether any eaterie was buzzing.

The staff were warm and helpful when frankly, given our feral appearance they’d have been forgiven for thinking we were penniless and/or very ill. They didn’t show any alarm and refrained from calling the emergency services.

Garlic bread, a bowl of olives and chardonnay for the grown-ups, lemonade for the little ones were promptly ordered and devoured hungrily. Flat pizza style bread loaded with a fistful of garlic and butter was just what the doctor ordered.

The kids went all in on the carbs and followed garlic bread with a margerita pizza to share. (We’re not mean, the pizzas were pretty large.) It did what it said on the tin, cheesey, tomatoey, great base. What’s not to love?

I thought I’d go meat free and pack in some Omega-3 with salmon fillets in a creamy green peppercorn sauce with sundried tomatoes, rosemary roast potatoes and fresh veggies. The salmon was cooked beautifully, the sauce was flavour packed with sundried tomatoes adding a nice tang, but it was genuinely large enough for two hungry lumberjacks. Also, bear in mind the seafood menu is separate from the main card and doesn’t seem to appear on the website, so if you check out the restaurant online don’t be put off by the lack of fish. There was plenty of choice.

Veal escalope pan fried in white wine, butter, garlic, lemon and capers tasted great with the capers and lemons adding a welcome zing. Again, it was huge. Crunchy little rosemary potatoes were superb.

The kids would say the best thing about Pinnochio was dessert. While they happily tucked into delicious helpings of profiteroles and cheesecake, the grown-ups were done and sipped peppermint tea in the hope it would cancel out the Christmas indulgence. It didn’t.

Other than the gargantuan portions which could easily have been halved, there were no complaints and we’ll definitely be back. It felt like a proper authentic, family embracing, old school Italian restaurant – in a good way – and we loved it.

Image credit: Tom Bird

Pinnochio,109/111 Wharfside, Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF. Tel: 0121 439 9393 pinnochioitaliano.co.uk