You may have noticed that here at The Mouthful we’re pretty passionate about Italian food (ok for some it borders on fanatically obsessed). Nothing boils our blood like a lacklustre linguini or below par bruschetta, and don’t get us started on the carbonara. So it’s always with slight trepidation we try a new Italian – even places we’ve heard great things about like Cucina di Vincenzo. Hold onto your Coppola’s folks…
It was a Wednesday evening and the place was bustling. Encouraging. The welcome was genuine and warm. Good start. Within seconds of sitting down an incredible looking plate of ravioli strutted past us. Menus please.
What a menu it is. It’s nothing short of mammoth, even before you take into account the sizeable specials offering. Although despite its enormity, this menu is not for pizza lovers, there’s not a margherita, capricciosa or quattro formaggi in sight. And I must confess a pizza lover I am, but selecting a starter and main was the hardest decision I’ve made since taking the plunge and admitting I’m watching Love Island (I blame brexit, it’s made me yearn for my early noughties cocoon where Nasty Nick was the biggest threat to society and who to vote for in Pop Idol the biggest conundrum). Roast cod with smoked pancetta, rack of lamb with roast potatoes, lasagne, carpaccio, arancini and I still had that ravioli strutting through my mind but a classic bruschetta and orecchiette with broccoli, Italian sausage and chilli won out.
They well and truly smashed the bruschetta. The two wedges of bread had been toasted to a golden brown before going ten rounds with a garlic clove and some quality oil. Crisp yet soft in the centre, it stood up well to the pile of generously seasoned roasted cherry tomatoes. I swiped a slab of buffalo mozzarella from my partner in dines enormous avocado caprese and polished off the lot.
The orrecchiette was also spot on. Chunks of delicately spiced pork sausage, broccoli and just the right amount of chilli all cosying up to the fresh little lobes of buttery pasta. A tasty and comforting bowl of goodness. Must also award the sea bass in lemon butter a highly commended, really well cooked and went down a storm with a side of expertly wilted spinach.
Owner Vince Margiotta was previously chef at Liverpool’s Il Forno and has family links to Bold Street mainstay The Italian Club, so I was expecting good things, but this was hands down the best Italian food I’ve had in years.
Cucina di Vicenzo is unapologetically classic fayre. But its classic fayre cooked really, really well and has all the makings of a great neighbourhood restaurant: quality ingredients, outstanding cooking and a genuine welcome. Having said that for food this good I’d travel. If you’re not local to South Liverpool, it’s worth the trip – head down for lunch and you can combine it with a visit to neighbouring bakery Artisane and pick up a couple of the best baguettes this side of the Seine.