I have taken far too long to report back on my recent visit to Rossini – a wonderful local Wokingham based Italian eatery, just before Christmas. My only excuse is that with all of the festive food and drink around, I temporarily slid into hibernation as I let sheer greed get the better of me. It happens at this time of year. I’m slowly returning to a state of normality, and food-wise, I have lots to tell.
Rossini is a restaurant that I have walked past numerous times, being on my main route into the town centre, but I described it as ‘hidden’ as it is slightly tucked away and set back from the kerbside. It could easily be missed as it is highly unassuming from the outside, although now it has been brought to my attention, I won’t be forgetting it in a hurry. I get the feeling this is the same for most who visit, demonstrated by the fact it was fully booked on our arrival on a Monday evening.
On entering, the interior is charming and intimate with huge paintings spanning each of the four walls, all of which are pretty waterside scenes of the Amalfi Coast (me personally, I find water incredibly calming, so much so, I decided to wed my husband at Land’s End of all places. Needless to say, this was an instant attraction for me). There is a quaint little trellis that runs across the centre of the room and we were lucky enough to be seated in a quiet placement just beneath it (also giving me a good central position to gauge the atmosphere from all angles). I must say, I was rather fond of the low key swing music playing out softly in the background. Not my usual musical genre of choice, but it complimented the ambience of the place perfectly.
The staff were not overly chatty, but that said, they were highly efficient and extremely professional. To be honest, you don’t go to a place like this to have a natter with the waiters – it’s all about serious cuisine for big food lovers. I noted how all of the clientele appeared to be happy and content, with conversations flowing amongst both the couples and the larger parties who were dining with us, as the sublime food kept on coming. In keeping with the season, we chose the Christmas set menu and looking through we deliberated for a good ten minutes about what to order from this plethora of choice. My aim was to venture into the unknown, plus go for something I wouldn’t normally eat at home (we eat a lot of Italian dishes). We also indulged in a nice, chilled crisp glass of white and a full bodied glass of red.
The first thing to arrive at our table was a very appealing selection of complimentary appetisers that consisted of some plump and delicious green olives, the tastiest bruschetta I have had to date (the tomatoes are rich and sweet and the olive oil had seeped nicely into the bread, with a very good kick of garlic to boot) and a very unusually pleasant bite size spinach dumpling.
Leaving just the right amount of time to savour the initial delights, our starters arrived in their full glory. I had the ‘Parmigiana di Melanzane’, which is basically baked Aubergines with tomatoes, Mozzarella and Parmesan. My friend had the ‘Orecchiette Salsiccia e Brocolli’, which was a homemade pasta dish with fresh Italian sausage, broccoli, olive oil, garlic and a Parmesan cheese sauce. Well, they say you eat with your eyes, and as soon as they were presented to us, I knew we were in for a treat. I wasn’t wrong, as we both got stuck in with great gusto. As an added bonus, the portions were extremely generous which is always a good thing in my book.
To follow these delectable appetisers, I went for the veal dish on the menu (‘Arrosto di Vitello’ meaning ‘Roast Veal’) which came in an immensely rich sauce, almost like a Bourguignon in consistency, but with a depth of flavour I hadn’t yet experienced. My friend opted for the chicken (‘Pollo alla Kiev’ meaning ‘Chicken Kiev’) but this was no ordinary Kiev as we know it to be, it was a huge supreme coated with homemade breadcrumbs and filled with a delicious garlic and parsley butter. For a second we thought that both were served minus accompaniments, until an array of colourful, steaming vegetables arrived at the table.
The main event was really quite something. We were both in agreement that the plates were extremely well executed and off the scale in regards to flavour and quality of ingredients. I can honestly say that the size of the portion I received is similar to what I would serve for us at home (perhaps I should have been born Italian!?) which I found very comforting. There’s nothing worse then leaving a restaurant hungry in my opinion. But…there was of course room for afters, it would have been rude not to, right!?
This is where it all got very retro and massively exciting. We were introduced to their famous ‘sweet trolley’ – a whole trolley FULL of desserts!! If I had to choose one, this would normally be the course I could live without, but not this time. The term ‘kid in a sweet shop’ came to mind as the waiter talked us through nine different puddings – all equally attractive in their own unique way (a selection of profiteroles, meringues, cheesecake, oranges in Grand Marnier, Gateau etc).
All were homemade and all were screaming ‘eat me’. We both liked the look of the Tiramisu and certainly were not disappointed. A splendid bowl full it was too. It came a little more spongy then I’m used to, but this is no bad thing, as it had soaked up all the alcohol making it twice as boozy as I’m used to as well! It was nothing short of scrumptious.
Simply put, during the meal I was already planning my next visit(s) and scanning my mind in between for other suitable companions that would appreciate such fine, authentic, rustic hearty fare. We are very lucky here in Wokingham, to host such a wonderful eating establishment that clearly knows it’s cuisine, how to cook it and how to serve it. Completely ‘stupendo’.