I’m not normally one to make a big fuss about Valentine’s Day. I find it all a bit naff (is naff even a word anymore?). But this year has been different – different for me, at least, but unfortunately no different for my girlfriend. You see, this year I spent an early Valentine’s afternoon with Aldo Zilli at one of Bristol’s most iconic Italian restaurants, San Carlo, and it has to have been the best Valentine’s on memory.
Ok, so it wasn’t just the two of us. He didn’t buy me flowers and we didn’t link arms to drink wine. He d
id, however, cook and serve me (and 5 others) an incredible five-course meal to launch a special Valentine’s menu that he has created for San Carlo.
If you’ve been to San Carlo in the heart of Bristol’s Old Town, then you’ll know that going there is a treat in itself. It has been in the same Corn Street location for almost 20 years and has retained its charm, elegance and impeccable service all that time. What I find great about it is that even if you go for a midweek lunch, it feels like it’s a special occasion the minute you walk through the door.
Within minutes of being seated the white wine was being poured, small bowls of black and green olives arrived on the table and conversation was flowing with the other guests. Our host, Joanna (PR & Marketing Manager for San Carlos) got wind that the first course of burrata Pomodoro was on its way, and her excitement was obvious. Burrata, she explained, was a type of mozzarella from Puglia in Southern Italy that has a unique taste and texture. She was right. It was like nothing I’d eaten before. It’s a lot softer than mozzarella, tastes more like cheese and doesn’t have the same stringiness that cooked mozzarella is famous for. Served with some delicious Parma ham, it was an incredible starter.
After learning the buratta had been flown in that day from southern Italy, I wanted to find out if the rest of the menu received the same treatment. The answer: yes, everything. Their meat is sourced as locally as possible; lemons are shipped in weekly from Sicily, Parma ham from a small supplier in Italy and they even hand-pick their own truffles. They believe that it is their passion for produce that has kept them at the forefront of Italian cuisine in the UK for such a long time, and it’s difficult to disagree.
Up next was gamberoni San Carlo’s (Sicilian red prawns in lemon garlic, chilli and paprika) followed by halibut in salsa d’aragosta (Halibut in lobster sauce) and then tournedo Rossini (28-day matured Angus beef in Madeira sauce). All of which were fantastic and more than generously sized. The prawns were huge and the medium-rare steak cooked to perfection.
After three hours of eating, drinking and being sporadically entertained by Aldo while he was serving the dishes, he came to join us at the table and was as charming and funny as you’d expect. He mirrored the passions Joanna had mentioned about sourcing quality ingredients and was excited to have created the Valentines menu for San Carlo.
If you’d like to treat your partner (and yourself) this Valentines, I can highly recommend San Carlo. £65pp you will get you three courses created by Aldo Zilli, a sgroppino – a Prosecco and lemon sorbet – between courses, coffee and petit fours following your dessert.
Too book please contact 0117 922 6586 or [email protected]
More details can be found here.