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Carlo's Trattoria, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 11:09 24 August 2011 | UPDATED: 10:26 01 May 2014

Carlo's Trattoria, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE - restaurant review

Carlo's Trattoria, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE - restaurant review

Perched by the stunning Surrey beauty spot of Newlands Corner, near Guildford, Carlo's Trattoria is one of those restaurants that you've probably seen more times than you've been. Now in its 25th anniversary year, Matthew Williams says it's time to change that

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2011

Reviewed: Carlo's Trattoria, Shere Road, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE: 01483 224180

***

Verdict
Food and drink 9
Service 10
Venue 8

What we ate:
Carlo’s celebratory tasting menu, £25 each

Antipasti
Fresh roasted pepper on a bed of rocket and parmesan shavings
Octopus carpaccio with best olive oil and lemon juice dressing
Cotechino e lenticchie lessate, a flavoursome sausage, served with Italian lentils

Primi
Carlo’s handmade ravioli – tiger prawn and crayfish, and duck breast and caramelised onion

Secondi
Baked fresh filleted seabass drizzled with lemon scented Ligurian olive oil
Marinated rump of lamb slow roasted in red Chianti, fresh peppers, onion and garlic

Dolci
Zabaglione semi freddo
Tiramisú
Sweet fresh pear poached in scented cinnamon wine

Drinks
Bottle of Fiorile Rosato Sicillia, £15.80

***

REVIEW: Having spent an evening in the dramatic surrounds of Guildford Cathedral, inspiration hit while driving home to Redhill via Newlands Corner.

A quick u-turn and we found ourselves back at Carlo’s Trattoria, a restaurant that until recently I had always, to my shame, passed silently in the night.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, with the now 60-year-old Carlo Crosta leading the kitchen for the duration, it has established a reputation as a fun and friendly place that takes its food seriously.

The chef’s amiable manner could also draw comparisons with the BBC’s Two Greedy Italians, and that enthusiasm for food is always infectious.
We opted for the 25th anniversary four-course taster menu, priced at £25 each but shared in the main.

The exterior of Carlo’s Trattoria is unassuming but step inside and memories of Mediterranean holidays will spring back into your thoughts.
A refreshing Sicilian rosé helped bring the sunshine, while we set about the first of our dishes.

Split into the traditional Italian four courses, from antipasti to dolci, a roasted pepper starter burst with freshness and the parmesan shavings contrasted beautifully.

This was coupled alongside sliced octopus carpaccio, served separately on the same platter, which was cut so thinly there was none of the occasional toughness that can kill such dishes.

Cotechino, a delicious cooked sausage, arrived next on a bed of lentils and lived up to its billing of the tastiest sausage around. A simple dish relying on quality ingredients and the foresight to not over complicate matters.

Carlo’s handmade ravioli followed; very obviously handmade fresh pasta in two types, with duck breast and caramelised onion cramming one and tiger prawn and crayfish the other.

The main courses are the first dish on the tasting menu that aren’t intended for sharing, although we did anyway.

Opting for both options of baked fresh filleted seabass and marinated rump of lamb, I tried the fish first and it was as good a sea-caught dish as I’ve tasted (again, simplicity with quality products was the key).

I’m a fool for lamb anyway, so my own choice didn’t disappoint – meat that simply melted in the mouth with enough vegetables and potatoes to keep even the staunchest Sunday roast fan happy.

Quality shines through
What little room that was left for dessert was soon occupied by zabaglione semi freddo, tiramisú and sweet fresh pear, all light and delicate dishes and a very welcome dénouement, followed by espressos.

A special mention for our waiter Carmelo, who it turns out has worked at the restaurant for over five years and was just about the most friendly I’ve ever been served by; making our night an absolute pleasure.

Carlo’s Trattoria will celebrate its anniversary with a dinner party on Saturday November 5. As it’s Carlo’s birthday the following day, I really hope he gets to shut up shop, head for the slopes of Newlands Corner to relax and takes a moment to pat himself on the back for all that he’s achieved at this ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ restaurant.

***

3 other Surrey lifers...

Kinghams 
Gomshall Lane, Shere GU5 9HE, Tel: 01483 202168 
Opened in 1993 by chef proprietor Paul Baker, this lovely village restaurant now features in all major guides – booking is therefore essential.

The Dining Room
10 Queens Road, Hersham KT12 5LS, Tel: 01932 231686
Tucked away just off the village green in Hersham, this quirky, pink-walled restaurant has been serving up mammoth portions of delicious grub since 1984.

The Cloche Hat
Burrow Hill, Chobham GU24 8QS, Tel 01276 858000
Nestled on the edge of the picturesque village of Chobham, at the Cloche Hat they’ve been bringing gourmet food to the residents of Surrey since 1957.

 


***

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2009

Reviewed: Carlo's Trattoria, Shere Road, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE: 01483 224180


Recently awarded Best Restaurant at the Guildford Life With Style awards, Carlo's Trattoria is a traditional Italian nestling in a picturesque corner of the Surrey Hills. JOHN HUGHES paid a visit to discover why so many people feel it's worth the trek

Whart we ate

Starters
Bresaola and Parmesan £5.80
Mozzarella in Carrozza £8.20

Main Courses
King Prawns Carlo £15.40
Spaghetti & Black Tiger Prawns £10.20
Deep Fried Zucchini £ 2.80
Green Salad £ 2.20

Desserts
Crepes alla Flamma £5.40
Panna Cotta con
Coulis alla Fragola £4.60

Drinks
Prosecco £5.80 (375 ml glass)
Barolo Dory Batasalio 2004 £34

Verdict
Food and drink 9
Service 8
Venue 9


REVIEW: It was a dark, misty and bitterly cold night when we drove reluctantly up to famed beauty spot Newlands Corner to seek out Carlo's Trattoria. Spirits were low, I have to confess, and frankly I'd have preferred to stay indoors.

However, my mood lifted almost the moment I set foot inside the warm, appealing, stylish dining room and experienced the friendliest of welcomes - a disarming blend of formality and informality led by Carlo himself.


As I sipped a glass of prosecco, Carlo talked through the specials, describing each one with such verve that I wanted to try them all, and felt no need even to open the menu.

With difficulty I plumped for a starter of bresaola and parmesan, the former being thinly sliced cold meat, rather like Parma ham only beef, served with a bed of rocket; light on the taste buds and a satisfyingly ample portion. My guest Helen, meanwhile, chose mozzarella in carrozza (Italian cheese coated in breadcrumbs) shallow-fried and served with a delicate tomato sauce; a complete contrast to mine and equally good.

For the main course, it was another special for me, although apparently it's virtually a signature dish and has been around as long as the trattoria itself - King Prawns Carlo. This was sensational - fat, succulent prawns (king-sized indeed) served in a tangy sauce rich in garlic. Every mouthful was one to savour and I simply did not want it to end.

I decided against vegetables and had a green salad instead, but pinched a few of the deep fried zucchini - lightly battered courgettes - Helen had selected to accompany her spaghetti and black tiger prawns. This was in fact another starter off the specials board, expanded for a small supplement into a main - nothing is too much trouble at Carlo's.

Molto buono

For dessert, I was extremely indulgent and chose crepes alla flamma; two pancakes (according to the menu but I could swear I counted three on my plate) cooked in an orange and Grand Marnier sauce, flamed with brandy.
To finish this generous offering was a pleasurable labour of love, whereas Helen's task was easier with a light panna cotta con coulis alla fragola; vanilla cream mousse served with strawberry coulis. "Everyone makes it - few know how," to quote the menu!

The modest but perfectly adequate wine list is selected personally by Carlo and is, unless I was mistaken, entirely Italian. For me, there is none finer than a good Barolo and tonight I indulged even further with a bottle of Barolo Dory Batasolio 2004. Thank heavens for dinner companions who offer to drive!

So we dined extremely well and barely touched the main menu - good reason for a return visit. And that may well be for lunch as the set lunchtime menu, I discovered, is exceptionally well-priced at this standard; a mere £12.95 for three courses during the week. Remarkable value.

Having been hands on in the kitchen all evening, Carlo came and chatted to us before we left; a charming man, clearly passionate about Italian cuisine. "We've been here for 23 years now, so we must be doing something right," he quipped. The truth, of course, is that he's doing a great deal right. The next time I'm back at Newlands Corner it won't be just to admire the view!


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