Restaurant review: Georgio’s, Headingley, Leeds

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This captivating little Italian restaurant on Otley Road has carved out a name for itself since opening in 2010.

It’s a lively little place offering guests a warm welcome and a slick, sprightly service, with intimate tables and soft lighting to get you right in the mood for some relaxed dining.

We phoned ahead and enquired whether it would be possible to arrive around 6pm on a Friday and were politely asked if we could make 5.30pm, to which we agreed.

It’s impossible to miss this is a family-run restaurant - quite apart from the pictures on the walls of the host shaking hands with various local celebs and sports personalities, there’s a kind of dressed-down easy going professionalism at work here. If it was a type of clothing, it would be a pair of jeans with a short and sports jacket.

It wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived at just after 5.30pm but that soon changed. Within minutes of being shown to our table, a drinks order was taken and menus delivered.

To begin, my dining partner ordered soup of the day £4.95), a minestrone, which proved to be warming and well seasoned with a rich, full-bodied depth of flavour. I went for the bruschette (also £4.95), which was great: there was a nice crunch to the bread, the tomatoes and garlic were as fresh as you like, just how it’s supposed to be.

Having played safe with my starter, I decided to try something a bit more adventurous for my main course and that came in the form of spada alla pizzaiola, grilled swordfish in white wine, tomato, caper and olive sauce, which came in at a hefty £17.95. Was it deserving of that price tag? Certainly, it was an ample portion and the sauce, while thin, was packed with flavour. In my view, the fish was slightly overdone. It’s a robust, meaty fish in any case and it’s not that mine wasn’t nice (it was) but it possibly lacked the delicate bite one is used to when eating fish.

I ordered two sides to go with the dish: new potatoes (£2.95) and deep fried zucchini (£2.95) and in hindsight I dare say I didn’t really need them because the main dish itself was more than enough. That said, the potatoes were a little bland, while the deep fried zucchini was a revelation - a kind of healthy chip.

My dining companion went for the calzone kiev folded and stuffed with chicken, mozzarella, garlic butter and tomato sauce pizza (£10.95), which she was more than satisfied with. It’s often a dish which is either overcooked and burned on the outside or else too sloppy on the inside but this was neither and so full marks.

Which brings us to desserts.

If they were paintings, they’d be hung in the national gallery.

When mine arrived (and considering I was by that point fit to burst), it almost looked too good to eat. You know when you see pictures of expensive food in glossy magazines and at the back of your mind you think, things never look that good - well, this did.

I ordered a torta al cioccolato, chocolate cake served with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream (£4.95) and it was almost melting in my mouth before I’d even carved off the first spoonful. It was a glorious rendition of texture and taste with a sumptuous dark undercurrent of choc-tastic wonder - an utterly decadent dinner table treat for the tastebuds and a great way to end our meal.

My partner, meanwhile, went for the equally stunning tiramisu, layers of spongy cake with mascarpone cheese, espresso and marsala wine (£4.95), which again received 10/10 for presentation and did not disappoint in terms of taste.

In terms of food, Giorgio’s is doing the local area a great service. Headingley is, after all, not short of Italian-style restaurants and so in that crowded marketplace, it’s a complement to the staff they stand out for the thing by which most places stand and fall.

One area where there was possibly room for improvement, however, was the service, because while the staff at Giorgio’s didn’t really put a food wrong in terms of being courteous and attentive (and nor were they over-attentive), they were, if anything, too prompt.

When we ordered our starters, we’d barely got two sentences into our conversation when the food was on the table.

As has already been pointed out, there was nothing wrong with the food and to begin with we were pleasantly surprised by the speed at which it arrived at our table.

However, as the meal went on, this punctuality became a leitmotif to the point where we almost felt a little rushed.

It dawned on me that, having been asked when booking whether we minded moving our reservation forwards half an hour, it could possibly be that they wanted the table back by a certain time and that’s almost fair enough but for the fact that when you do go out for a meal, you kind of want the evening to run at its own pace.

Before we’d even left the restaurant, our table had been cleared and another group were indeed shown to it.

I’m not saying this was the reason for the super-fast service and I don’t want that to come across as a negative per se (and in their defence, m’lud, I witnessed the maitre’d being very efficient in terms of directing his staff to clear tables while he himself attended some other task, all of which is very laudable).

Still, it’s nice to have a bit more of a gap between your starter and main and that and dessert.

Our final bill, with drinks, came in at £75.95. The restaurant is open seven days from noon till late and has a diverse menu so repeat visits will no doubt be rewarding.

There’s also a decent children’s menu offering two course and dessert for a reasonable £6.95.

All in all, our visit to Giorgio’s was a pleasant one. This is a friendly Italian restaurant offering top class food and a speed of service which is practically unrivalled.

FACTFILE

Address: 70-72 Otley Road, Headingley, LS6 4BA

Tel: 0113 278 2030

Opening times: noon-late seven days a week

Website: www.giorgiosrestaurant.co.uk

Star Rating

Food ****

Value ***

Atmosphere ***

Service ***

Emma Hatcher.

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