Saturday , October 31 2020
Benoli - Norwich 1

Benoli – Norwich

www.benolirestaurant.com

Benoli - Norwich 2Where did you go?
A party of four of us – two couples – went to Benoli, on Orford Street in Norwich – pretty much on its first anniversary!

What’s the vibe?
It’s a trendy, stylish sort of place. Set over three floors, there’s a bar area downstairs, with tables, and then more tables are available on the first floor, with the loos on the top floor! It’s painted a rather rich dark green, with odd bits of botanical wallpaper (I think I spotted some monkeys but that was after some wine) and exposed brickwork. Look out for great copper light fittings and a groovy, simply enormous statement piece on the first floor.

Who’s in the team?
The chef patron is Oliver Boon who has been cooking since he was 16, including a spell as head chef for Michel Roux Junior at his restaurant Roux at the Landau in London. He was a finalist in the top BBC TV show, MasterChef: The Professionals in 2012.

We enjoyed the company of Pedro, our waiter, who talked us through the menu and explained all those pasta shapes!

What do we need to know about the menu?
There is a strong focus on hand filled pasta and everything is made on the premises. Most of the ingredients come from Italy, with fresh veggies and salads grown locally.

What’s the price range?
Snacks are from £3.50, antipasti from £8.20, pasta mains from £13, and desserts from £6.

Starters?
You can try snacks and/or antipasti – snacks are a bit smaller, and cheaper, I guess. We mixed it all up, with a snack each and antipasti between two, with couples sharing their choices. Highlights were Parmesan courgettes, both crispy and gooey, and a stuffed courgette flower which was very pretty. The smoked beef carpaccio was dreamy – with a cheeky little deep fried anchovy to add interest. I enjoyed a sourdough pizza, crammed with soft cheeses, anchovies, courgette strips, oils and more. Octopus with tomato panzanella is for next time.

Mains?
The fresh pasta dishes grabbed us all. My mortadella caramelli with pistachios, peas, Parmesan and mint was exciting – with the pasta itself really delicious. The bucatini vongole (clams) with chilli, parsley, garlic and pangrattato was approved by Himself who enjoyed the spicy flavours and varying layers of flavour.

There is a meat and fish option but we stuck with that homemade pasta! Do expect it to be cooked al dente. We added in a couple of rocket salads, with plenty of balsamic, too.

Desserts?
My bay leaf pannacotta with strawberries, served with a slice of fennel and olive oil torta was perhaps my personal highlight. As you’d expect, it was a little bit different with a mixture of textures and sweet and sour tastes.

The Amalfi lemon sorbet, burnt meringue and limoncello was much praised, a tart end to the meal.

What about dietary requirements?
There is a separate vegan menu and dishes can be adapted.

Tell us about the drinks
All the beers and wines are from Italy. We enjoyed a bottle of Torre Alta Pinot Grigio rose at £19.50 which was very quaffable

Classic Italian cocktails are also served – a Peach Bellini sounded great and I have been reliably informed that their Tiramisu Martini is to die for. Next time!

Anything else we need to know?
The name of the restaurant is made up of the owner, Oliver’s, name and his brother, Ben. Their parents had a boat called this, too.

Overview
A friendly place, with a clearly passionate team. There’s a first class use of quality ingredients and much attention to details. Take your time to look at the menu and do try new things. Don’t expect a traditional lasagne!

Benoli - Norwich 3

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