You might be forgiven for thinking that taking an Italian to an “Italian Night” might not be the greatest idea. Especially when the Italian in question is actually in the hospitality business. This was the thought occasionally popping in to my head as we made our way to Cowbridge with Ruth and Marco Zeraschi (yes, Gavin & Stacey Marco – Barry Island Marco). And yes, Ruth (affectionately known as Mrs Marco – the café in Porthkerry).
Having eaten in Penny Farthing before and especially enjoyed the themed evenings, I really shouldn’t have had any concerns whatsoever. But you never know with Italians – food is part of the family. It’s their culture. This was going to go one of two ways…
Actually, I needn’t have been the slightest bit concerned. Marco and Ruth are lovely people. But Marco doesn’t suffer fools and he’d say if something didn’t hit the mark. No pressure.
We arrived unfashionably on time and, after a refreshing welcome cocktail (Prosecco and peach purée), we ordered drinks. Soon after, the antipasto arrived; plump, stuffed Romano peppers with mascarpone cheese, Italian cold meats, breads and celery sticks. There was plenty of it and it was delicious.
To start, penny Farthing’s brigade had created a ramekin sized minestrone soup which was the perfect size starter, given the antipasto was so generous. It was equally tasty – everything was looking good to impress our guests and they seemed pleased. However, the main was the big test and, for Italians, the dessert course was probably even more important.
We needn’t have concerned ourselves. The mains arrived and they were honestly superb. I’d ordered Veal Osso Buco – slow cooked cross cut veal shanks in tomato, celery and carrot sauce with mashed potatoes. It was unbelievably good.
Marco and Ruth went for the cannelloni – glazed, seafood–stuffed cannelloni in a white wine sauce and parmesan crisp breadcrumb. There was the tempting alternative of aubergine rolls with spinach and ricotta but the cannelloni was the popular choice. Both seemed delighted.
Jennifer had tested the “Should you have any dietary requirements, please inform a member of the team” to the full and wasn’t disappointed choosing simple greens with her veal. We all agreed the mains were superb and, the portions were a good size. The garlic ciabatta on the side ensured no one would be looking for a burger on the way home.
To finish, we enjoyed a truly superb dessert. I think, in this case, my photo actually does it justice. Tiramisu and mixed berry zabaglione which Marco said just took him straight back home to Italy. He said it was almost as good as his mama used to make. I think for a moment there he was back in Bardi!
I was, quite honestly, surprised by how good it was. I know that probably sounds disingenuous to the brigade at Penny Farthing but I don’t wish it to be taken that way. Creating great Italian food is hard enough when you’re Italian. So many “authentically Italian” restaurants fail miserably. This was not the case tonight. The food was quite honestly superb. I believe in Italy they say “cibo delizioso” (beautiful food).
Was it value for money? Absolutely. If I had one slight criticism (more of an observation), we don’t recall any music playing. It didn’t make any real difference as we were not short of conversation, but a little Italian music in the background may have brought a little extra Italian atmosphere to proceedings.
If you want to book for the next event at Penny Farthing, you can check out the website at www.townandcountrycollective.co.uk/pennyfarthing or call 01446 774999.