Italians are renowned on being big on family … so it’s worth mentioning Aperitivo is the sister restaurant of Rustico.
It’s hard not to mention the latter – and as a big Rustico fan, I was naturally going to compare the two.
I’ve always found Rustico to be a gem of a place, with great staff, a buzzing atmosphere and big portions of authentic food. How would Aperitivo match up?
Straight in the door, we were off to a good start, with a prompt, friendly welcome and our pick of the remaining tables.
It’s an odd compliment, but the size of tables in the dining room is perfect.
Even on the tables for two there’s loads of room to lay out various dishes, water and wine and bread baskets – none of this cramped dining where you have to hand things back to the waiter just to make space.
The decor is inviting and the atmosphere perfect for big parties or dinners for two alike.
The menu caters primarily to pasta and meat lovers – there is no pizza, but people who love authentic Italian food know pizza is not always on offer, which is fine.
Notably, there is a complete, easy-to-read table of all dishes and their allergens, which goes above and beyond for those who need it.
A starter of gamberoni piccanti (king prawns) was well presented, with five huge, juicy butterflied king prawns pan fried with the shell on. The prawns had seen the heat for just the right amount of time and the sauce was a great balance of spicy chilli and garlic with tangy lemon.
At £10.95, they were tasty enough for the price tag, but I wouldn’t make them my regular choice, purely because of the cost.
The arancine di carne (risotto balls with meat ragu) were deep fried and served with a rustic, chunky tomato salsa, which was seriously moreish and added zing and moisture to the spheres.
The main courses of bucatini ossobuco and arrostito were huge, but I do think it’s better to have too much than too little.
The bucatini ossobuco (braised veal shanks in ragu with long pasta) was great.
The shanks had clearly been cooked for a long time, on the bone, which made them seriously tender, flaky and succulent.
The bones still had to be removed (which was no hassle at all) and the red wine ragu was rich, with plenty of root veg.
The al dente pasta was something I hadn’t seen before – a sort of hollow spaghetti, which held the sauce well.
The arrostito was a skewer with marinated chicken, Italian sausage, pancetta, red onion and peppers.
Ideal for people who like them, it was packed with smokey flavours from the pancetta and Italian sausage, and the chicken was nice and moist.
The rosemary potatoes were beautifully golden and lightly coated in butter.
A dessert of profiteroles took an Aperitivo twist, as the little choux pastries were covered with white chocolate and fresh cream, with a sort of tiramisu-flavoured mousse inside. Delicious.
The cheesecake of the day was a zingy, creamy fresh kiwi and white chocolate one, and the coffee was excellent quality.
Just remember to ask for leftovers (which are almost inevitable) in a takeaway carton!
Special mention should be made of the impeccable, friendly service from the whole team, and our waiter Shaun was excellent.
Aperitivo – you definitely measure up.