Nuovo is the new kid on the block if you’re tired of eating out at the same old places.
Having only opened its doors to diners last month, the restaurant still seems to be finding its feet in a couple of areas but we really enjoyed our visit and would definitely go back.
Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of Northampton’s Abington Street, you step through the archway into a warmly-lit area filled with tables and chairs which would not look out of place on a Mediterranean terrace.
Walking into the restaurant, the welcome was as warm as the temperatures in the Med and we sat down to admire the decor, with drapes, artwork and subtle lighting creating a beautiful backdrop for dinner.
The waitress scored some early brownie points after offering to put a drink for Elinor, currently undertaking Dry January, in a wine glass so she didn’t feel left out while I enjoyed a glass of sauvignon blanc.
It may only have been pineapple juice in a glass, but a nice touch all the same.
The waiting staff were on hand on more than one occasion to talk us through the menu, where you can order a variety of dishes including steak, pasta, salads, platters to share or something from the forno-grill.
There is also a deli offering a colourful selection of meat, cheese, olives and vegetables.
But we were drawn to the mouth-watering choices on the cicchetti menu, a Venetian term for small plates which are similar to tapas or mezze.
The range of cicchetti dishes, costing between £3 and £6 and which can be enjoyed as a starter or several for main, would appeal to most people and we struggled to limit ourselves as it all sounded too tempting. Dining with a vegetarian meant we could give the selection a proper road test, although the waiter had to highlight a number of dishes suitable for non-meat eaters after admitting some of the V for vegetarian signs had been missed off the menu and needed to be added.
Our vegetarian choices comprised of stuffed mushrooms with garlic, basil and mozzarella (£4), bruschetta with garlic, tomato and grano pedana (£3), tomato and buffalo mozzarella (£5), patatas bravas (£3), arancini balls with a mozarella centre (£4), hummus and tzatziki with flatbread (£3) and grilled vegetables marinated in rosemary, garlic and sea salt (£4).
While enjoying a taster of each of these perfectly presented portions, I had to satisfy my carnivorous cravings and chose the smoked chicken wings dusted with paprika salt (£4), pan fried squid and chorizo with chilli dressing (£5) and the biggest plate of whitebait I have ever consumed, as recommended by the waiter from the specials board.
We may have over-ordered slightly with our Mediterranean feast, but a small break before resuming our mission to get a full flavour of the menu meant almost all the small bowls were empty by the time our table was cleared.
A sneaky look at the dessert menu led to the ordering of lemoncello profiteroles (£3) to share.
The recipe seemed quite heavy for a profiterole, but the lemoncello sauce perked them up nicely and going 50-50 was the perfect way to avoid over-indulgence.
The offer of coffee was accepted and brought our Mediterranean-inspired banquet to a natural close.
But there was no rush for us to leave, and the chatter from surrounding tables seemed to suggest others were also lapping up the food, service and ambience of Nuovo.
Our bill was £55.25, which may seem quite pricey for two people, but this probably relates more to our gluttonous traits than to the food being over-priced.
And while the restaurant is relatively new, I’m sure it is destined to mature nicely over time just like a good bottle of wine.
104a Abington Street
FOOD: Tasty and wide choice
DISABLED ACCESS: Good
PARKING: On-street and Ridings car park nearby
OVERALL: Well worth a visit
TOTAL COST: £55.25