Back in the day Il Toro was my favourite Italian in the area. In fact, I still love it. Back then Luciano was their general manager, after spending some time as a chef, then manager at The Midland Hotel in Manchester (now enjoying Simon Rogan fame). They had one of the best pastry chefs I have ever come across, and the food was always fantastic.
A few years later, Luciano set up his own venture a couple of miles down the road on the site of the moth-eaten Millstone restaurant - Luciano's at the Millstone. Add some Sicilian style and a sprinkling of decent business acumen, and a chic little spot was born.
We've been several times over the past few years, yet I never seem to have got round to writing this one up. I'm all about the local heroes at the moment, so it was about time I got my act together.
Broccoli and cauliflower soup: It was actually quite mild outside (a rarity in these parts), but after three days in a tent my husband decided that a fresh flavoured, cockle-warming soup was the answer. This was thick, tasty, and just what the doctor ordered.Polpettine di Manzo - home made meatballs in a rich spicy chilli tomato and basil sauce, served with fresh crusty bread: These are just fantastic. Forget dry meatballs with features resembling that of a small cannonball, these were moist, well seasoned and came served in a beautiful tomato sauce with a kick from added fresh chillies.
Filetto Italiano - prime fillet steak with red wine, black, green, and pink peppercorns, beef jus and brandy creamy sauce: I struggle to have anything else at Italian restaurants (I can hear Franco groaning...), because they just do it so much better than their British counterparts. I really should have put something next to this steak so you could gauge its vastness. It must have been about four inches thick, and came served with a delicate pepper sauce and perfectly cooked vegetables.
Pizza Margherita - tomato, mozzarella and oregano with added Parma ham and chicken: My husband craves pizza when he's been eating healthily. After two weeks of eating like an actual saint, this was his reward. The base was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and had plenty of toppings per slice.
Lemon meringue tart: I am drawn to any sort of lemon meringue. Although this was tasty, I did find the tart filling a little overdone (there was a tell-tale crack when the meringue had been devoured) and the pastry was a smidgins too thick.