They’re on a wave. Forty years in the business and they’re still at the top of the tree, so to speak, which says something and they’re nothing if not inventive, what with expanding the premises and moving into fine dining.
So, I called in good time but the nice lady on the phone said they couldn’t do 7.30pm but that they could only do 8.15pm, which was too late for me, because being a father and having a partner who works nights means that by 9pm, I’m more than likely to be found refereeing a pre-teeth brushing argument between the my children, after which I tend to fall asleep myself.
So, in the short time I had, I opted to seek out alternatives and it wasn’t long before something else popped into my head: Giorgio’s.
It’s another Headingley institution and feels as though it’s been there almost as long, even though it hasn’t. The restaurant on the corner of the main road and Cottage Road has been in existence for about seven years - a mere blink of an eye when compared to the place I mentioned at the start.
For a time it branched out, taking over the space in what used to be The Olive Tree at Rodley roundabout but that closed some time ago.
If I’m honest, it was further along Otley Road than I wanted to go, especially as I had the little ones in tow. It’s heading up towards Woodies and the start of that nightly gaudy parade that is the Otley Run, so having found a parking space some distance away down a dimly lit sidestreet with no yellows, me and the kids traipsed along the splendid Yorkshire-stone flagged pavements they enjoy in Headingley to our destination, passing along the way, Zeus, Flash Gordon, a men dressed as a sheep, Supergirl and Barbarella (possibly), all of which made for good conversation.
The welcome at Giorgio’s is as warm as you could ever wish for. Genuine smiles and a greeting upon entry, an offer to take coats and ‘where would we like to sit?’. I actually prefer being asked, especially when you are in a group with children. The restaurant was about half full when we arrived at about half seven and so, rather than being ushered into the window seat, we opted for a large table near the back.
Giorgio’s is lovely. The atmosphere here is calm and homely, staff display a quiet confidence. Menus are delivered pretty much immediately and drinks orders taken (small Peroni for me, diet cokes and an orange juice for the little ones).
Bread is brought to the table and so the feasting begins pretty much immediately, thanks also to the bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar which are already on the table.
I don’t know about you but all nine-year-olds seem interested in is pizza, so to offset this I order a sharing platter to start, the antipasto abruzzo, which came with charcuterie and ‘selection of cheeses’, although when it arrived there was only a slice of mozzarella and a hunk of blue cheese, which I like but the kids shun (although one did try it, to their credit). In the centre of the dish is a pickled, slightly weary looking artichoke, which I have no love for and even as a decoration I’m struggling to comprehend. Still, the meat was good, as thin as you like, all marbled and lined with white slivers of fat and it was all gobbled down in a matter of moments.
Mains stretched to spaghetti bolognaise, which was good and I have to say ‘like your mother would make’ but fell short on presentation and would have benefited with a little more finesse, a touch of greenery, some cheese etc.
The was an inevitable order of margherita pizzas, which went down a storm, while I ordered pollo porcini (£11.95), principally because I wanted something different. A perfectly cooked chicken fillet was duly delivered, smothered in a creamy sauce with garlic, white wine and a veritable cascade of thinly sliced mushrooms. In short, it was a triumph and had I been on my own at home, I would have licked the plate clean.
Desserts followed: hot chocolate fudge cake and tiramisu for me, bringing the final bill (with 10 per cent service charge, grrr) to a snip over £85. Giorgio’s might not be Salvo’s but it’s still high enough up the tree in terms of food and service to warrant a visit.
The Yorkshire Evening Post Oliver Awards 2019 have begun and already we have just over 100 entries. The dining awards, based on the reviews in this very column, are now into their 11th year. They were created to celebrate the very best of the local dining scene but we need you to get in touch and nominate. Anyone can nominate, including restaurants. If you want to support the industry, go to our website: www.oliverawards.co.uk.
Address: 70-72 Otley Rd, Leeds LS6 4BA
Tel: 0113 278 2030
Opening times: noon-10pm seven days