I don’t know about you but whenever I drive down to Rodley roundabout, I still think of it being home to The Olive Tree restaurant, which of course, it isn’t anymore.
At least, it hasn’t been for the last seven months. Thanks to a much publicised (by this paper) ‘restaurant swap’, the former Olive Tree is now a branch of Giorgio’s Italian restaurant, which was previously just based in Headingley and rightfully made a name for itself there.
Indeed, owner Solos Psarias regularly entertained local sporting stars, including Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United players and he has the pictures to prove it.
Just in case you aren’t already aware, his parents and owners of The Olive Tree restaurants, George and Vasoulla Psarias agreed to ‘swap’ premises with their son back in November, which means George and co are now in residence in Headingley (and Chapel Allerton), while Solos has expanded to take on the premises just off Rodley roundabout. But he has also retained his Headingley restaurant, meaning there are now two Giorgio’s and two Olive Trees.
It sounds confusing and probably is but all you need to know is Giorgio’s at Rodley is well worth a visit.
We pitched up unannounced on a Thursday evening around 7pm and were given a warm welcome. Really, this is a beautiful building both inside and out - a former Victorian manor house, with all the flourishes of wealth one might expect, including internal columns and grandiose windows, it reminds one of some sort of colonial mansion.
Of course, for the last 29 years (and counting) it has been a restaurant and one which has earned a good name for itself. Its location and ample on-site parking means it’s a destination dining establishment and being on the leafy border between Rodley and Calverley does it no harm at all. And I’m glad to say that as the newly branded Giorgio’s it looks set to deepen the niche which had already been carved out for it.
When I asked my other half to sum up what she thought of our trip to Giorgio’s in Rodley, she said: “Nice. Tasty. Big portions. Nice friendly service.” So, if you want to skip the rest of this review, you can take that text message roundup by way of summary, because it pretty much summed up our visit.
To start we ordered Insalata di mozzarella e melone (£6.95), fresh melon, baby mozzarella and Parma ham, with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. Visually, stunning with the fanned melon and neat little jumble of Parma ham. Fresh, light, slightly salty and best if you can manage to get a little bit of each ingredient - the meat, the cheese and the salad/melon - in one mouthful.
We also ordered Polpette Rustica (£6.50), home-made spicy meatballs with tomato sauce topped with parmesan cheese and baked in the oven. These would tick the ‘tasty’ box from my partner’s aforementioned review.
Swiftly onto mains, I decided to break from tradition (mine at least) of ordering steak or some other big meat-based dish and instead went for the Risotto Toscana (£9.95), with chicken, garlic, mushrooms, smoked bacon and asparagus in a creamy tomato sauce. Well cooked (and not overcooked), well seasoned, well thought out, actually. A good dish all round. Lots of flavours meeting in the middle, as it were, it had a nice fresh feel to it and a slight saltiness that just married all the component parts.
My partner ordered Linguine al Frutti di Mare (£10.95), which comprised clam meat, prawns and squid served with flat spaghetti in a light tomato, garlic and chilli sauce. Again, lovely and a sizable portion to boot.
For desserts, I reverted to type and cliche and gave in to the tiramisu (£4.95), which is a dish if done well I utterly adore. And this one was done well. It’s like a coffee-flavoured sponge cheesecake, all melty and gooey with a hint of naughtiness and that crisp coffee kick to hit the back of your tongue and make you want another spoonful, even as you scrape the plate to finish the last little morsel. It was heavenly. Perfect to end the meal.
My partner, meanwhile, had the equally delicious Torta al Formaggio Cheesecake (£5.25), a real ‘star of the show’ and obviously made in house. It was the thickest, creamiest slab of cheesecake I’ve seen in a long time. No half measures here and the taste and texture were simply sublime. I’d go back for the desserts alone.
We also ordered olives (£2.95), bread basket, salad (£3.50), chips (£2.50), together with drinks: a large Peroni (£6), small Peroni (£3.55) and a lime and soda (£2.50).
Together with drinks the whole shebang came to £81.20 but they added a 10 per cent service charge, which brought the final bill to £89.30. Not an exorbitant amount for three ample sized courses of such quality.
It was probably worth the £8.10 but had I been simply tipping, I would probably have left a tenner and not wanting to belabour a point which has been raised by Oliver on numerous occasions... suffice to say that in terms of service charges which are already added to bills, we’re definitely against it.
Overall, then, a good trip out. We did have to wait a while between some of the courses but it was quite busy and generally service was good. I dare say the move will work well for both restaurants and certainly Giorgio’s seems to be doing a great job. In fact, this bodes well for Rodley in general, which already has a nice little clutch of restaurants and pubs nestling down at Rodley Bottom and Giorgio’s is just a stone’s throw away. It’s certainly somewhere we will be returning to in our own time and if you’re looking for a place to impress friends, it’s perfect.
Address: ‘Oaklands’, 55 Rodley Lane, Rodley, Leeds, LS13 1NG
Telephone: 0113 256 9283
Opening times: Monday-Friday 5pm-10pm (last orders), Saturday noon-2pm and 5pm-10pm (last orders), Sunday 12.30pm-9pm (last orders)