Bardolino is authentic, affordable and delicious
If you were in any doubt about the brains behind the Bardolino restaurant at Cadbury House before you arrived, it would soon become abundantly clear.
Emblazoned on the outside is a larger-than-life image of Marco Pierre White, who stares down at you as you approach.
It’s a light and bright area, with wooden furniture, brightly-coloured foodie prints on the walls, herb boxes on the tables and an outdoor terrace with glorious views of the surrounding countryside.
Taking its name from the town of Marco’s mother’s birth, Bardolino features an all-day menu of Italian food, espressos and Bellinis which celebrates Marco’s love of simple Italian fare. Bardolino bills itself as an “ultra-casual” venue, and as it’s housed in the same building as the hotel’s health club and spa, during the day there’s a high proportion of bathrobe-clad diners taking a break from the pampering to grab a drink or a spot of lunch.
The menu is clearly designed more for a quick, fun lunch than a long, lingering romantic meal for two. There’s a couple of starters on offer, in the shape of antipasti sharing platters (from £10.50) as well as garlic pizza breads (from £3.95) and nibbles like olives (£3.50) or roasted nuts (£3.50) but it’s the mains that are the real stars of the show.
And as almost all of them come in at under the £10 mark, it won’t break the bank.
My Bolognese pizza (£9.50) was a joy. The base was light and crisp, and the Bolognese sauce rich and hearty with tangible chunks of meat, and the perfect bedfellow for the creamy, melted mozzarella. The one disappointment was the lack of fresh basil promised by the menu which would have added a fresh note.
My husband’s spinach and ricotta cannelloni (£9.25) was very well received. Rolls of pasta cooked to just the right soft/al dente balance were stuffed full of the light, soft cheese and iron-rich spinach, drenched in a sauce full of the tangy sweetness of fresh tomatoes and smothered with cheese. It was unctuous and more-ish and every last mouthful was devoured with gusto.
We were unable to resist the lure of the dessert menu and I ordered the chocolate brownie with milk ice cream (£5.25). Beneath the gentle crunch of the crust lurked a warm, soft, sweet, chocolatey heaven – the very definition of naughty but nice – complemented perfectly by the cool creaminess of the milk ice cream. It was the kind of bowl full you feel genuinely sorry to finish.
Husband’s tiramisu (£5.25) was a towering mass of creamy indulgence. Lighter-than air sponge sat layered with mascarpone, espresso, liqueur and cocoa. He thought it could do with a more vigorous coffee kick, but I thought the subtle bitterness hit just the right note.
The idea behind Bardolino was to create a venue serving up – in Marco’s words – “Italian food that is affordable and delicious” that can be enjoyed by everyone – and that’s exactly what it delivers.