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Food Review: Flavours of Italy entice you to a gem of a restaurant in Rugeley

I was all of a fluster. The table was booked for 6.30pm and we were sat in the car, stuck in slow traffic around Lichfield.

Terrazza Restaurant in Rugeley
Terrazza Restaurant in Rugeley

There were two things on my mind. One, I don’t like being late for anything.

And secondly, I’d heard and read some wonderful reviews about the food at The Terrazza Restaurant in Rugeley and, having avoided eating much during the day, I was eager to sit down so I could sample some of the fine Italian cuisine on offer.

Wanting to avoid the restaurant thinking we had bailed out on our reservation, we rang ahead to explain we were running behind schedule and were told not to worry in the slightest.

On arrival, we discovered a lovely relaxing setting which put me at ease and we felt very welcome as we were taken to our table.

Inside the restaurant

There was something very sophisticated but also warm and hospitable about the restaurant, which the Di Bartolomeo family has been running on Lichfield Street for some 25 years now.

Nicki and Nic Di Bartolomeo took over the running of the restaurant in December 1996 – a Friday 13th, in fact, but it felt like I was in luck, rather than out of it, as I looked down the menu.

The restaurant has built a strong reputation for wonderful food over the years with dishes based on traditional Italian family recipes.

The food is home-cooked and prepared to order, using fresh, authentic Italian ingredients to ensure that taste of the old country and, with an open kitchen, you are able to see the chefs at work.

You could immediately tell that many of those customers already sat at their tables were regulars and many wanted to have a chat with the staff.

Over the course of 25 years, the restaurant has made an impression on a lot of customers in Rugeley and beyond and that love has been passed through a generation of families.

Perusing the menu, while nibbling a bread stick, there was a large selection of starters, and many of the mains could be adapted to a smaller plate if you wanted to sample them as your first course.

My dining partner Amy and I had been tempted by the Antipasto Classico, a platter of ‘Affetati’ Italian meats and cheese, preserves and truffle oil. This is something you can order for yourself, for £7.50 or for two people at £14.95.

But, eventually, we decided we would order separate dishes and Amy chose the Formaggio Tomino, which was a great little vegetarian dish.

A creamy blend of baked cow and goat’s cheese was served up with some toasted ciabatta for dipping and a special onion and orange chutney. It may sound a simple dish, but the cheeses warmed together made for an enjoyable, smooth sauce that was the perfect consistency for dipping the ciabatta, which had a wonderful homespun flavour.

Panciotti Di Pesce

I liked the sound of Funghi di Lusso, an open cup mushroom, topped with homemade chutney, goats cheese, a slice of smoked salmon, baked and served with toasted ciabatta.

But already having a main in mind which didn’t involve pasta, I opted for Bauletti as my starter. This is fresh egg ravioli filled with minced lobster, served in a tomato sauce with smoked salmon, sundried tomatoes and garlic.

It was packed full of flavours which complemented each other perfectly, a delightful explosion of tastiness in the mouth, which left me craving more.

I particularly enjoyed the smokiness of the salmon which came through while there was just the right hint of garlic and a delicious sauce surrounding the perfectly cooked ravioli.

For the main, Amy went for the Pollo Maria, which is a marinated breast of chicken, flattened, rolled and stuffed with a slice of Parma Ham and mozzarella.

A rich tomato sauce is then poured over and the whole creation is served on wilted spinach and topped off with parmesan.

Packed with a host of unpretentious flavours this was an appealing and nourishing feast.

Occasionally during our meal, we would hear banging from the open kitchen and concluded this must be one of the recipes you can hear being prepared. Not only is it good to know your meal is being prepared fresh but watching the hustle of a small but efficient kitchen in progress provided entertainment in between courses.

I considered the Risotto del Cuoco – creamy risotto with chicken, asparagus, mushrooms, pancetta and a hint of garlic but the menu suggested a waiting time for the dish and I was just eager to sample my next plate of food.

Pappardelle Con Filletto also sounded absolutely sublime for this pleasure-seeker. It consists of fresh egg pasta ribbons tossed in a rich creamy fillet steak, porcini and field mushroom sauce.

There is also an array of tempting steak and pizza dishes. It’s the kind of menu with which you see several items that are attractive and you are left with food envy when someone on another table orders something you didn’t.

Like Amy, I was tempted by a chicken dish and opted for Pollo Ripieno.

The breast of chicken was rolled with asparagus and dolcelatte cheese and came with a dolcette, porcini and field mushroom sauce on breaded courgettes.

The chicken was beautifully cooked, complemented well by the asparagus and cheese and the creamy sauce was very moreish, and plentiful. Though not a fan of courgettes, I even enjoyed the breaded ones on my plate.

The restaurant offers a range of fresh desserts, with many Italian classics such as Tiramisu and gelato. My dining partner selected a cheesecake which was served with a scoop of chocolate gelato.

A thin, buttery base was topped generously with the light, almost fluffy cheese that was far less dense than other cheesecakes she’d had in the past. The gelato on the side had a rich, powerful chocolate flavour and the whole pudding had a pleasing, homemade appeal.

Homemade Tiramisu.

I selected La Bomba – chocolate pieces and sauce topped with two scoops of chocolate ice cream and one of stracciatella (my personal favourite) topped with cream and more chocolate pieces.

It came in a huge glass and would probably been more suitable to share, though I gave finishing it off a good go. It was an effort to finally put the spoon down.

It capped a lovely evening where the service was impeccable and the food excellent. Families have been enjoying their food at Terrazza for more than 25 years – and it's easy to see why.

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