A good friend and I recently dined with the highly acclaimed local restaurant ‘Ruchetta’ in central Wokingham. I have been eager to share this review as it was a very memorable and enjoyable occasion, for two food lovers who are rather partial to fine Italian cuisine. It is located on Rose Street and I’ve had my eye on their inviting lunch menu for some time now. Our other halves agreed to babysit on this particular Friday, so that we could be ‘ladies that lunch’, and I’m just glad that we chose Ruchetta as our venue, to eat well, drink well and have an uninterrupted chat (as us girls like to do), as it provided the ideal setting.

On walking in, you will be greeted with an atmosphere that is extremely laid back and relaxed. The ambience seems to encourage conversation and I could have sat there quite happily for hours (there is no sense of hurry from the waiters). I got the feeling that many of the tables were regulars who keep coming back time after time, as they all appeared to be deep in discussion and completely comfortable in their surroundings. The staff are well turned out, professional and attentive. Offering to take our coats on arrival, shortly afterwards we received a complimentary array of fresh breads and butter to wet our appetites.

Having an afternoon to ourselves, of course wine had to be involved. We both tried a glass of the house white, incidentally one of the best I’ve sampled whilst eating out. I would opt for the same again, without a doubt. I have to admit that the food menu excited me somewhat, as it’s full of interesting and seasonal ingredients. Luckily, I had perused it online beforehand, otherwise it would have been a challenging task for me to decide between the dishes, when faced with such a plethora of diverse choice. Usually on a set menu, you are given a few options for starter and the same for main course, but we were shown five or six for each that all sounded equally delicious.

I went for the terrine of pork, chicken, beef and duck to start, which came on a colourful bed of mixed leaves. An attractive plate – it was served with a vibrantly green salsa verde and pickle vegetables. The sweetness of the pickle was a wonderful accompaniment to the meatiness of the terrine, with the rustic salsa verde perfectly complimenting both elements. My friend had the goats cheese and was full of praise for the flavours that she sampled.

To follow, I had the guinea fowl. This isn’t something I had tried before, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I always aim to make a point of ordering foods that are new to me and I wouldn’t normally eat at home. It came wrapped in tasty pancetta and stuffed with pork, figs (that brought a fabulous contrasting sweetness against the saltiness of the ham) and chestnuts alongside mushrooms, a beautifully seasoned potato croquet, baby carrots and a rich masala sauce. I am fond of a generous amount of gravy with my meat, so the latter really hit the spot for me, without overpowering the dish at all. The earthy combination of flavours married together to create a bite that was hugely pleasing, and it became apparent very early on that the chef and proprietor, Angelo, strives for perfection and excels in what he is passionate about.

My companion also tucked into her calves’ livers served with bacon and spinach with great gusto. The conversation did come to a temporary halt at this point as we both savoured the delights on our plates.

What a joy to experience a meal that has been cooked to a very high standard with an accomplished balance of both textures and tastes – that is light and delicate – but still leaves you feeling pleasantly satisfied. That said, I could have easily made room for one of their very tempting desserts, but I’m saving that for next time!

You can almost certainly find a set lunch menu elsewhere in Wokingham that sets you back less than £18.50 per head for two courses, but if you’re looking for an eating experience that always delivers both on style and substance, you won’t go far wrong with Ruchetta. The full house of happy and content clientele that I have witnessed on both of my visits to date speaks volumes, as here you will find finesse, flavour and service that guarantees you’ll want to return for more. Go on and treat yourself.