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Piccolino, Virginia Water, Surrey, GU25 4QE - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 13:58 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:52 20 February 2013

Piccolino in Virginia Water

Piccolino in Virginia Water

This month, restaurant critic John Hughes escaped the summer storms by paying a visit to Piccolino - a contemporary Italian restaurant in Virginia Water

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2007



Restaurant reviewed: Piccolino, London Road, Virginia Water, Surrey, GU25 4QE Tel: 01344 844756




This month, restaurant critic John Hughes escaped the summer storms by paying a visit to Piccolino - a contemporary Italian restaurant in Virginia Water



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From the 'Antipasta con amici' menu...

Verdura (vegetable)

Avancini di caprino 3.25
Carciofi alla romano 4.50
Funghi ripieni 3.25

Pesce (fish)

Calamari fritti 3.95
Gamberoni aglio e olio 3.95
Granchio fresco 5.50

Carne (meat)

Salame con finocchiona 3.95
Spiedini di pollo 3.95

Drinks

Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (glass) 5.65
Bardolino Chiaretto,
Brolo Alto (large glass) 6.50

THE VERDICT

Food and wine 8/10
Venue 9/10
Service 8/10

Situated on the A30 opposite one of the entrances to Windsor Great Park, Piccolino is a relative newcomer to Virginia Water - a contemporary Italian restaurant and bar set over two floors. Their menus offer a combination of both modern and classic Italian dining. However, we went along one summer lunchtime specifically to try their 'Antipasta con amici' menu, a selection of vegetable, fish and meat sharing dishes, a sort of Italian version of 'tapas'.

There are eighteen dishes on the menu ranging from 2.95 to 5.95. It was tricky to judge how many to order to make a meal, but Helen (daughter, photographer, lover of Italian cuisine) and I decided on four each and when they arrived it turned out to be about right, by luck more than judgment. We agreed that the eight would all be different and our random selection consisted of three vegetable, three fish and two meat dishes.

My first choice, Arancini di caprino (goats cheese and basil risotto fritters) was delicious. Helen tried one reluctantly but was taken by the blend of dry textured cheese with the basil - an immediate hit. We then tried her Funghi ripieni (stuffed mushrooms with goats cheese and garlic spinach, served on a bed of toast); nice when combined with another dish, Carciofi alla romana (artichokes stuffed with mint leaves, garlic and parsley, and cooked in olive oil and white wine).

From the fish dishes, I managed to sample the Calamari fritti (lightly fried squid with roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon) - light indeed and a dish I could easily have chosen as a main course; and I was equally taken by the Granchio fresco (fresh crab meat with fennel and chilli), succulent and refreshing and served with chunks of diced tomato. However, the concept of sharing broke down when it came to the Gamberoni aglio e olio (sauted king prawns with garlic and chilli butter), so all I can say is that they looked great!

I got my own back by staking a claim to most of the Salame con finocciona (sliced Tuscan sausage flavoured with fennel), probably my favourite of all the dishes. The fennel was quite evident but not overpowering, and the sausage was served with thin slices of roasted yellow pepper. Meanwhile, Helen's final choice proved to be simple but very satisfying - Spiedini di pollo (skewered chicken wrapped in Italian smoked bacon).

With the meal, I chose a glass of Bardolini Chiaretto, Brolo Alto, crisp and not too full-bodied; a gentle complement to this type of snacky lunch. Had it not been lunchtime, I would have been more than satisfied with a full bottle, especially at under 20.

The 'Antipasta con amici' was a delightful lunch experience, presented with true Italian flare and relaxed but professional attention to detail. Of the two dining areas, the first floor where we sat is lighter and brighter, all chrome and red leather with glass from floor to ceiling all around - not unlike being in the cabin of a river cruiser. And judging by the summer rain lashing down outside, there was no better place to be.

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