Updated: Jan 12
Hello fellow readers, this time we wanted to review a very famous Italian/Sicilian restaurant in Cambridge.
The restaurant in question is “Al Pomodoro Bar, Restaurant and Pizzeria”.
In our opinion it has turned out to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Cambridge for service, food and hospitality.
Al Pomodoro opened its doors to customers less than a year ago and, despite its young "age", has already collected a long series of positive comments on the web (see Trip Advisor).
All these positive results really intrigued us and we went in person to see the actual reality of the facts.
What follows is the story of our experience on a particular evening, on the eve of the second English lockdown.
Arriving at the entrance we were greeted by Umberto (Partner and Owner) who immediately seated us at our table and brought the menus.
The menus are very complete with dishes divided into appetizers, first courses, main courses and desserts (subdivided in turn into meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan dishes) giving a wide choice, thus satisfying one's personal diets.
Drinks, there are two menus:
A more generic one, which lists popular drinks, and one for wines on which there are more than 100 Italian labels.
As usual, we took advice from Umberto himself who, after considering our choices, suggested a Calavianca Bianco IGP from the Vinci cellars (2019) which arrived at the table with two tomato bruschettas.
We were pleasantly satisfied with the suggestion and fell in love with this wine from the very first sip.
Fresh, dry and refreshing with notes of apricot, ideal for a fish-based menu or to accompany aged cheeses.
After a long consultation we settled on the following gastronomic choices:
Appetizers: Octopus carpaccio, Italian appetizer (portion for 2 people), Caponata di Verdure.
First: Spaghetti Allo Scoglio
Second course: Seabass All'Acqua Pazza
We chose an Octopus Carpaccio, an Italian Antipasto and a Caponata di Verdure, three appetizers chosen in order to have a more global opinion of the quality of the food with completely different characteristics accompanied by a portion of fried dumplings to replace the bread.
Presented in a beautiful dish, with decorations that are very reminiscent of Caltagirone ceramics, on a bed of rocket and Pachino cherry tomatoes, it highlights all its flavor accompanied by a light dressing that enhances its flavour.
Tender on the palate, we really appreciated the contrasting notes of the rocket and the sensation of freshness from the cherry tomatoes.
Caponata of vegetables:
Typical dish of the Sicilian tradition, the caponata has a much more decisive impact on the palate.
The vegetables seem to be cooked to the right point and are driven by a sweet and sour note which, at first, accompany the flavor of the vegetables themselves but then leave a clean, pleasant sensation on the palate.
What leaves you impressed is the feeling of wanting another bite after the first taste.
Classic appetizer with cold cuts, cheeses and a Caprese salad; but the highlight in our opinion was the arancino di ragù.
The arancino is golden at the right point, crunchy on the outside and with a tender and warm heart inside.
It is precisely its interior that convinced us;
On the palate: a heart of meat full of juices that immediately fill the mouth, leaving those who taste it with the desire to want one more. The rice, very delicate, accompanied everything without covering the flavor of the ragù inside.
In all honesty we believe it is the best arancino we have tasted in Cambridge.
SEEING IS BELIEVING!
Spaghetti Allo Scoglio:
At first impact, the thing that immediately strikes you is the intense aroma that comes up on the nose;
It immediately took us back in time when we tasted everything from a typical restaurant by the sea with the scent of saltiness typical of the Mediterranean scrub.
Among the most beautiful things about this dish is certainly the abundant portion that vaguely recalls the portions of Italian grandmothers worried about their "waste" grandson.
The pasta is cooked just right (not pre-cooked pasta typical of most Italian restaurants in England) and plenty of seasoning.
The feeling of finding a good quantity of clams, mussels, shrimps and baby squids inside the dish is very pleasant;
Bass All'Acqua Pazza:
Tender on the palate and with a scent that comes up that makes you want to taste it immediately,
the Spigola All'Acqua Pazza is almost drowned in a sauce of cherry tomatoes, onion, perhaps a little garlic, mint and basil.
Very few ingredients that have enhanced a prized fish like sea bass with their simplicity.
One of our very personal positive notes goes precisely to the condiment that led us to ask for extra bread to make the classic "scarpetta".
It must be said that, before choosing dessert, we were strongly advised by Umberto for the choice of dessert.
This is because, behind their tiramisu, there is the story of a centennial family recipe, a source of pride for all the staff.
This created a very high expectation towards which we had serious doubts right away.
But all doubts disappeared after the first taste.
Very delicate on the palate, light, with the taste of coffee that bursts onto the tongue immediately dampened by a very delicate mascarpone cream that envelops the whole mouth.
After the first taste we were silent, an uncommon silence that brought us back home for a moment when the sweets were made with love by our mothers and grandmothers.
With complete tranquility we can say that it is certainly the best tiramisu in Cambridge!
To accompany their "diamond" we were recommended a Passito, a fortified red wine that vaguely recalls the Portuguese Port but with a more enveloping flavor.
Our experience at the Al Pomodoro restaurant has left us very satisfied.
We understood firsthand the reason for all those positive reviews, since we entered it is as if for a moment we were no longer in England but at home.
The atmosphere is what you can find when you go to dinner with old friends; you immediately feel welcomed in a place where the staff can't wait to let you taste their delicacies in a relaxed and smiling environment.
The story behind their dishes makes you understand that it is an activity carried out with passion, which is evident in their cuisine.
The decorations of the dishes themselves recall (as already mentioned) the Caltagirone ceramics as well as the "good service" that Italian grandmothers and mothers keep aside for special occasions.
We will certainly return as soon as possible.
It was a wonderful experience that we recommend to anyone who is in this area of England.
We really hope that this place run by young guys, driven by their passion, can only get better by following the path it has taken.
P.S. In the meantime we will also be ordering takeaways from them during the second Lockdown period.