Restaurant review: Caffe Italia

By Matt Wright

Tucked away down Melton Mowbray’s prettiest street, near St Mary’s Church, sits not a pork pie seller or Blue Stilton shop, but an Italian café next door to an Italian deli.

Deli and Caffe Italia are two of Melton’s most delicious destinations, run by Alison D’Angelo and her Tuscan husband Gaetano. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the café becomes a bistro serving simple, taste-packed Italian dishes and Italian wines, all at extremely reasonable prices. If you choose from the fixed-price menu (à la carte is available too), two courses will set you back just £8.95; three £11.95.

The bistro is compact, the tables arranged cleverly to make best use of space. Accompanying your conversation with Italian-style hand movements may result in homemade soup going over one of the smartly dressed, attentive young waiters.

However, the bistro is charming rather than cramped and exudes the pleasant feel of a late-night European café. Low-level Italian music plays in the background, a counter displaying delicious cakes gives you the come-on, and cooking aromas rise from the basement kitchen. You could be in Sardinia if it wasn’t for the Leicestershire accents.

Selecting from the fixed-price menu, I ordered a primi of focaccia al aglio (garlic mushrooms on chargrilled focaccia), while my wife went for homemade soup. Service was conscientious and the starters, along with a perfectly chilled bottle of Frascati – just the thing to welcome the weekend – arrived quickly.

The salty, garlicky mushrooms were tasty and speedily followed by the spicy Italian meatballs with roast rosemary potatoes in tomato and basil sauce – a piquant and satisfying dish. The meal was rounded off with a slice of homemade tiramisu.

Caffe Italia’s bistro is a delightful venue offering good, unpretentious Italian cooking at good prices. For a perfect night out in the Pork Pie Capital, why not plan a meal here followed by a visit to the town’s excellent Regal Cinema?

Caffe Italia

Inside Deli Italia next door

CUISINE: Italian
PRICE PER HEAD: £15-£20 (for three courses and drinks)
KIDS WELCOME: Yes
DOGS: No
CUSTOMER CAR PARKING: On street
FOOD TIMES: Bistro: Friday and Saturday nights only from 6pm. Otherwise, Caffe: Mon-Sat, 9-3pm. Deli: Tue-Sat, 10am-4pm

Menu samples
Three courses: £11.95

Starters
Homemade soup with crusty Italian bread
Garlic mushrooms on chargrilled focaccia bread

Mains
Tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta in a sauce of butter, sage, nutmeg and cream
Spicy meatballs in a tomato and basil sauce with roast potatoes

Desserts
Trio of Italian ice creams
Homemade tiramisu

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.