On Thursday night, a couple of friends and I took to Jamie’s Italian Bristol in a bid to re-energise off of copious amounts of pasta and antipasti after a long week. Jamie’s Italian in Bristol is strategically based at the top of Park Street to ensure appetites are roaring by the time you work yourself up to the top of the hill. It is also deceptively big being able to accommodate the large quantities of foot traffic coming off the street but also hoards and hoards of students armed with student discount codes, ready for pasta.
Jamie’s Italian Bristol comprises of two main sections, at the front of the restaurant is a small handful of tables for sitting and watching the world go by whilst cradling a large glass of red wine. At the back, there is a whole separate part of the restaurant tucked away full of of booths and tables in parallel with the exposed kitchen. There is also a room available for party bookings on the 3rd floor (yes, somehow there are three floors to this building!).
The drinks menu was packed with a large selection of white, red, rose and sparkling wines along with a number of cocktails. I opted for the Birra Moretti which was £4.25 for a bottle, this seemed quite steep for a bottle, I thought it would’ve been good to display the measurements of the bottle/glass/pint of beer shown on the menu to give me a guidance of price. It was refreshing to see a nice selection of non-alcoholic drinks such as non-alcoholic cocktails (at a reasonable price of £3.50 unlike other restaurants) and homemade lemonade – consisting of fresh lemons and mint.
Choosing dinner was a difficult process, there were various main meal options ranging from extremely meaty (Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta) to extremely vegetarian (Roasted Squash and Winter Greens) alongside numerous pasta dishes (both gluten and non-gluten options available) with 3 awesome specials on the chalk board. We started off with a mountain of crusty focaccia bread and sourdough served alongside extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a chilli tapenade which had a nice degree of heat to it. This was a really nice starter, although I recommend one portion per three hungry people as we easily tidied up the last bits of bread!
For mains, Jem and I ordered planks and small dishes of pasta to help prevent a rampant case of food envy. Planks, within the world of Jamie’s Italian, are basically mezze boards of the meat and vegetarian variety. The planks are propped up by cans of chopped tomato which are artfully laid out on the table before the food comes out. The meat plank looked really impressive, our waitress reeled off the many ingredients; prosciutto and schiacciata picante, buffalo mozarella, pistachio mortadello, fennel salami, pecorino, chill jam, pickles, olives and rainbow slaw (£6.95 per person). The vegetarian plank was delicious, with chargrilled and marinated vegetables, served with mozzarella, roasted pumpkin crostini, whipped ricotta served on a slice of crackerbread and pickles and olives (£6.95 per person). I really enjoyed the whipped ricotta and the vegetables provided a nice veggie side dish for my meaty, pancetta carbonara pasta. If I were to call a winner for this particular plank off – I’d say the meat plank was the winner but it’s nice to know that there are alternatives for our vegetarian friends!
I can’t miss out the Carbonara, this had the perfect balance of sauce to pasta ratio, the chunks of pancetta added some real flavour to the penne pasta which was cooked to perfection. Both Jem and I ordered a smaller portion of this which was perfect (given the plank demolition!) – I genuinely think that I would come back to the restaurant specifically for this Carbonara.
Jolene ordered one of Jamie’s specials, Chicken Cacciatore, which was a pile of deliciousy-goodness including free range chicken, seasonal vegetables, pine nuts, rocket, parmesan and black olives. Jamie’s Italian is pro-active in sourcing their meat from free-range chicken farms and they take pride in sourcing quality ingredients for every plate which is served up to their customers. I love that Jamie Oliver’s values of healthy eating is conveyed within the nutritional values of a meal, there are specific nutritional targets which they aim to hit; every meal aims to have a Recommended Intake of calories and saturated fat lower than 25% for men and less than 35% women – I had no idea!
On the menu you will also find funky chios – what makes them so funky? The segments of garlic and rosemary which is mixed into them – they are delicious however, next time I think I’ll order some chilli fries to add a bit of spice!
Our waitress at Jamie’s Italian Bristol was great at explaining all of the ingredients within the dishes, she was attentive throughout and ensured we never had an empty glass. The atmosphere was really relaxed which meant we were able to sit back and put the world to rights on a bleary Thursday evening without feeling rushed. As a first time for all of us at Jamie’s Italian, I think it’s safe to say that the variety of options and standard of food was really great – just don’t forget to order a Limencello before you leave!
Jamie’s Italian invited me along to review the restaurant, all thoughts, feelings and pictures are my own.