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Carluccio’s – Menu Festivo
With one vegetarian and one gluten-free/dairy free diner in the family, we were thrilled to be invited to Carluccio’s to try their Christmas Festivo Menu. The menu has been designed with a real recognition of vegetarian and gluten-free diners and is a real treat for us with all the food is labelled with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free symbols. A nice addition was the options to make some choices gluten-free on request. This Christmas, Carluccio’s has created two seasonal menus: the Menu Festivo (a selection of classics) or Menu di Natale (more choice plus little extras).
I always love Carluccio’s atmosphere, especially in Wimbledon. It’s next door to Wimbledon Stables, where my horse lives, so I know it well. The interior is light and airy with just the right amount of energy and bustle set within the backdrop of its Italian origins. This combined with a great friendly service always makes for a good time. I got the impression the staff didn’t recognise me at first as I wasn’t clad in horse riding attire (!) but we soon solved their confusion and they definitely remembered me by the end of the meal!
We kicked off the meal by selecting a Sicani Rosso wine, while we chose our food. This is basically a house wine, however, it is very good with a fruity, nice body, good colour, made from the Nero d’Avolo grape. At 12.5% it also packs a punch. Sicilian wines are a speciality and quite fashionable at the moment.
For starters, the Veggie Man chose the celeriac and chestnut soup which is served with focaccia.
The soup was thick and warming for those wintery days and nights. The truffle oil combined with garlic and celeriac made a hearty and substantial soup. Together with flavoursome focaccia drenched in olive oil, always good in Carluccio’s, it makes a filling starter.
I chose the Pear and Gorgonzola salad.
A generous portion of excellent salty and crunchy Gorgonzola, succulent pears, radicchio leaves and walnuts this definitely feels like you are being healthy while not losing out in the taste stakes. And, as I learnt recently on my detox retreat, pears are very good for the digestion and we don’t eat enough of them. I have to sneak in the wellbeing advice!
For mains, the Veggie Man had the Portobello Mushrooms.
This is vegetarian and gluten free too. The big, meaty mushrooms are stuffed with ricotta, spinach and herbs and sit on a base of soft polenta. The ricotta is lightly toasted not just soft and creamy with a rich sauce. A bed of spinach for extra green and the polenta is good as a bed and for presentation but maybe just a little watery. Overall a hearty and filling vegetarian meal not a braised lettuce in sight for the Veggie Man (now that’s an infamous story!)
I went for the only gluten-free meat option – steak with truffle butter, rosemary roast potatoes and green sides.
The steak was tender, tasty and nicely cooked. This was served with a generous pat of truffle butter. Originally I was told that I couldn’t have the roast potatoes as they were not gluten-free. I have to stay I struggle with this because roast potatoes do not have to have gluten in so why make it an issue. So after a rather insistent request for potatoes of some kind I am pleased the chef was able to cook me some.
We enjoyed a spinach side dish. You can’t go wrong with Carluccio’s spinach, always nicely cooked.
My son joined us for ‘his evening meal’ and went straight to his main of Chicken Saltimbocca and said it really ‘jumped in my mouth’.
A Carluccio’s classic done well as to be expected. Rich and tasty in a sauce of vin santo, with a generous portion of mushrooms and potatoes.
We took a look at the array of Carluccio’s Christmas foods available to take home for presents or your own Christmas table. There is something for everyone including a fabulous advent calendar.
And, it’s reassuring to see that Carluccio’s is so allergy aware in their menus and shops.
We are not dessert eaters but the reasonably priced three-course menu is definitely worth having. Between us we had the opportunity to sample several, starting with the Panettone with Vin Santo syrup and vanilla ice cream.
The syrup stops it being too dry and is a very generous serving after the filling veggie meal.
My young man had chocolate torte with a raspberry coulis which he confirmed was a classic dish done well.
Just ice-cream for me as, on a gluten-free diet, that was my only choice. Next time, I would really have loved some of the gluten-free panettone…hint hint!
Panettone, for me, is where Carluccio’s excels at this time of year. Part bread, part cake, panettone is the star of Christmas in Italy and at Carluccio’s.
Their sought-after selection of panettones has something to please everyone. And when I discovered their gluten-free version last year I was very happy. A Christmas time treat.
I’m always happy to pop into Carluccio’s as the food is always of such good quality whatever the menu. Good honest classic Italian fair cooked well and served well. Classic menus with a twist.
The info on the website says:
Carluccio’s began life in 1991 when Antonio and Priscilla opened their food shop in Neal Street, bringing the finest quality regional Italian food to London.
They carefully wrote each label by hand and explored the length and breadth of Italy to find the best ingredients. In 1999 they opened the first Carluccio’s Caffè in Market Place – an authentic Italian restaurant in the truest sense of the word, and a continuation of their successful food shop. Their aim was to provide great quality, authentic Italian food at sensible prices, and to provide informal but excellent service to our customers. That aim remains the same today. We cook by Antonio’s motto, MOF MOF. Minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour
I can say without hesitation that this definitely holds true. And this year’s Festivo menu is especially good.
The Festivo Menu is two courses for £20 and three courses for £24 so very good value. You can also add a drinks selection to be clear on overall costs. An excellent package for a small or large party this Christmas time.
Carluccio’s have 75 restaurants over the UK and Ireland. Look up your nearest one and try out the Festivo menu for yourself.