The Italian Club (and its sister café-restaurant The Italian Club Fish), both situated on Bold Street, exude the kind of rustic, Italian charm one would hope to experience in the country itself. The Italian Club, is a venture started by Rosaria Crolla, who spied a gap in the market in Liverpool’s restaurant scene for authentic, Italian cuisine in a relaxed, café setting.
Upon entering The Italian club, one’s senses are overwhelmed by the aromas of real home cooking, and genuine, rich Italian flavours. The restaurant is laid out so as to suit its varied clientele, with a deli at the front, where one can purchase Italian ingredients to attempt to recreate such dishes in the home, with an array of sofas around the window, creating a tranquil vibe.
As one ventures further in, one is greeted by one of the many friendly, bubbly staff, all full of character and promising the warmest of welcomes. Past the food counter, displaying delectable desserts and steaming hot dishes, my boyfriend and I were seated at a candle-lit table towards the back of the restaurant. Outdoors (weather permitting) is an al fresco dining area, but unfortunately on this rainy July day, the outside area hardly seemed inviting.
After being seated by the maître d’, we were promptly attended to by an equally friendly waiter, who took our drinks order. We ordered two large glasses of the Chianti (totalling £9.90, a very reasonable price for such generous quantities) and the wine was delicious; full bodied yet fruity. After this, we ordered our food: I had the Ravioli Ai Ricotta E Spinaci, whilst my boyfriend ordered the Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina, both at £7.50.
Our food arrived in excellent time and we were offered generous helpings of parmesan cheese and black pepper to season our dishes. The Ravioli arrived piping hot; an abundance of oven-baked pasta parcels nested in a casserole dish, filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, and topped with shredded fresh spinach leaves, mozarella and parmesan, which was beautifully golden and crisp on top. The creamy, cheese sauce was light and seasoned beautifully, whilst the pasta was flavoursome and far superior to any ravioli I have ever tasted.
I also sampled the Gnocchi dish, which consisted of potato gnocchi in a homemade tomato sauce, with cherry tomatoes, parmesan and topped with fresh basil leaves. The texture of the gnocchi was perfect, and the thick, tomato sauce was infused with the lighter tastes of basil, pepper and the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. Previously, neither of us had ever tried gnocchi as a main course, and so were delighted with the fullness of the flavour, as well as the presentation and fragrant aromas of the dish.
To accompany our main courses, we ordered a side dish of garlic bread, which I sampled on a previous trip to The Italian Club, and had to have again. For £2.95, one can enjoy the best garlic bread in Liverpool – a flat bread, stuffed with chunks of garlic and widely chopped parsley, this dish is dripping in butter, and lightly fried on the outside to produce a truly unique take on such a classic staple of Italian cuisine. This bread side dish manages to be delicate and light, like everything else on the menu, whilst retaining the flavoursome punch of rustic Italian cookery.
The interior of The Italian Club reflects the authenticity of the food, as one entire wall is bedecked with a family tree comprised of wonderful black and white photographs of the founding family. Elsewhere, one will find antique-looking maps of Italy, as well as wrought iron candelabras, and old fashioned pieces of art. The other walls are adorned with the sumptuous portraiture of Liverpool-born Italian artist Anna Di Scala, whose paintings add a classically Italian aura to the already picturesque interior.
At The Italian Club, one can expect to enjoy top service, along with the finest in Italian cuisine, at astonishing prices considering the mastery of the cookery involved in such exquisite dishes. There is a huge selection of Vegetarian options (I would also recommend the Melanzane Alla Parmigiana, a lasagne-type dish that replaces the pasta sheets with thin layers of aubergine) which is refreshing, when Veggies like myself are used to seeing ‘Margherita Pizza’ as the sole vegetarian option on the menu.
This family-run business puts the likes of Jamie’s Italian and other big-chain restaurants to shame, and produces food exceeding the flavours and textures of standard Italian cookery. For fantastic food, in a calm setting, with the promise of friendly, welcoming service and a manageable cheque at the end of the banquet, The Italian Club has got to be one of the top Italians in Liverpool, superbly located in the foodie haven that is the RopeWalks area, Liverpool.
85 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4HF 0151 7085508