I am often asked to review restaurants – I love it, who wouldn’t after all? Sometimes it’s a chain restaurant; sometimes it’s somewhere child friendly and I take my son; sometimes it’s a blogger event and I meet up with other reviewers there; and sometimes it’s just me and a friend trying out somewhere new. Generally, I know what to expect from a restaurant because I have a clear idea of what sort of restaurant it is supposed to be. This time though I really had no clue what to expect. I’d never been to a restaurant inside a casino before. I think I just thought they did snacks and things so people could stay on the tables or at the machines, but I didn’t really know. What a relevation it has been! I have never been so pleasantly surprised by a restaurant.
The Restaurant is located inside the Broadway Casino, near Five Ways, Birmingham. It’s very much an authentic Italian restaurant and on arrival we were greeted by our host for evening, Roberto Santolamazza, the restaurant manager. Roberto has a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry. He worked as a maître d’ in top hotels in Rome, before moving to Birmingham in 1993 where he has worked in prestigious restaurants throughout the city and beyond. Both my friend and I have eaten in many of the finest Italian restaurants that Birmingham has over the years and we enjoyed speaking to someone who was so knowledgeable about them. He knows a great deal about Italian food, regional cuisine, signature dishes and the wines and spirits of the whole of Italy.
On arrival we were served a fruity prosecco cocktail as an aperitif. This was followed by a selection of fish and seafood: mackerel, tuna and octopus. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked by chef Stefano Gigante and served with a selection of flat breads (some the best bread I’ve tasted) and the plumpest, most juicy olives from Puglia. I loved how tender it was especially the octopus, as that is so often a bit rubbery, but it was spot on here. It was already clear we were in for quite a treat and my friend sent a message home to her husband to say she ‘was being treated like a princess’.
Roberto wanted to show off some of the mains from the summer menu, so we shared two of them. Here’s my half of the succulent tuna dish and we also sampled a flavoursome beef main with gnocchi. We just about managed to squeeze in a little more of the tasty flat breads to accompany them. I think the tuna was my pick of the two dishes because it was such a lovely piece of fish and the beef was served with gnocchi, which I am just not too keen on as I find them too heavy. That said these were the best I’ve tasted, but not enough to convert me.
Throughout our meal we sampled some excellent Italian wines and liqueurs. As a palette cleanser, we had limoncello mixed with a sorbet, which gave just the fresh touch we needed between courses. A lovely dessert wine set off our sweets and we finished off with some grappa. It was a smooth, rounded grappa and I was impressed that they had quite a range to choose from on the menu.
I was surprised how well the restaurant sat within the casino, although you don’t need to go to gamble to enjoy the food. We did go to learn a little about how to play roulette after our meal and even had a go at rolling the ball into the wheel.
The Restaurant is certainly somewhere we will be going again. In fact, my friend already has plans to take her parents there for a meal and is looking to take work colleagues there for a Christmas meal and casino experience.