[Gatley, Greater Manchester] Piccolo

We’ve been to Piccolo before with mixed experiences. On occasion, it’s been really good and, sometimes, not. This was definitely a “not”.

It started before we even got there. In the past, we’ve phoned to make a reservation but this time we tried their online reservation system. Actually it isn’t a reservation system. Unlike many restaurants which have systems that give you instant confirmation, with Piccolo you’re effectively just sending them an email. Now that’s fine if they respond. Which Piccolo didn’t. So, presuming that the email had either not got through or been ignored, we rang them – to find that they did have us in the reservation book. An email to confirm would have been the work of seconds for them.

Our table was on the balcony. It was hot up there and, seemingly, much noisier – always something of an issue at Piccolo due to the design of the building. I think they must have different furniture up there – the daft design of the table meant it was difficult to find a comfortable position for your feet. And then there was the wobble. One of the waiters tried to wedge it with paper. It didn’t improve it much – he sort of shrugged and walked away saying the floor wasn’t level. We had to do something of a balancing act for the rest of the evening.

So, to the food. Tomato bruschetta was fine – crisp bread and flavoursome tomatoes, with a little onion and herb. On the other hand, bruschetta Piccolo was not fine. Advertised as the bread being topped with crab, avocado and chilli, it was fridge cold which muted all the flavours. And what flavour of crab and avocado could be detected was absolutely drowned out by an excess of citrus. The chilli, which can work so well with crab and avocado, seemed completely absent.

At this point, the glass of wine which had been ordered still hadn’t arrived. It was chased and then came almost immediately, with an apology that it hadn’t been entered on to the system. And, in all credit to Piccolo, they now served the glass “on the house”.

Pizza Vegetariana may rank as one of the poorest pizzas ever. The base was undercooked. The tomato sauce was insufficient and had minimal flavour. And, because of the short time in the oven, the toppings (artichoke, peppers and mushrooms) were still almost raw. Sun dried tomatoes seemed to have been forgotten and, subsequently, just scattered over after the pizza came out of the oven. We really should have sent it back but then you end up watching the other person eat their food and then they watch you eat yours.

Veal Florentine was generally OK. A thin veal escalope was wrapped round a filling of spinach and Gorgonzola, the cheese giving it a nice tang which countered the bland, thin cream sauce that flooded the plate. The best bit was the separate bowl of vegetables – roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and courgettes – all nicely cooked and properly seasoned.

Perhaps needless to say, we didn’t bother with dessert. The place was packed on a midweek evening, so they’ve really no incentive to do any better. I really can’t see us going back after this experience.

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Piccolo didnt manage to hang on to its “Harters worst ever pizza” award. Two weeks after eating there, we went to a new opening in the village - Montalcino. It had a short menu which seemed promising. But one pizza had to be sent back as it was barely cooked and, indeed, there was raw dough in the middle.

The other one, a basic Margherita, had overly thick dough which was just cooked through. There was insufficient sauce and what there was just was thin and tasteless. And there was hardly any cheese on top.

Am I writing up a full review? Nah, it was so bad it’s not even worth dissing it.

Been for lunch. Food very average - but was better than the service.

I’ve tried to support local independents. But there gets to be a limit.

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Oh, and Montalcino closed within weeks of opening. It’s now a bar. One of those bars that you never see anyone in.

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