In keeping with the Italian theme of my most recent restaurant review, I’m writing about a meal I had a few weeks ago at Zio Pin Italian restaurant on Albany Road, Cardiff.
An independent restaurant run by the Bertelli family who are originally from Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, Zio Pin has to be one of the longest-standing restaurants on Albany Road. Apparently, my mother won a radio competition for a meal here when I was just a baby – 27 years ago – and it was just as highly regarded back then as it is today. In fact, Zio Pin actually opened its doors 10 years before I was even been born, making it almost 40 years old.
Visiting Zio Pin on a Friday evening, the restaurant was filled with a mixed crowd of couples, families and friends, and we were lucky to get a table for two. We spotted a few Italians dining in the restaurant, which we took as a sign that we had come to the right place for some decent Italian food.
The menu offers all the usual suspects for a traditional Italian restaurant, from freshly baked pizzas and pasta dishes to meat, poultry and seafood. Prices are on par with what you’d expect too, with mains ranging from £5.95 to £15.25. If you order from the set menu, you can get two courses for £9.95 at lunchtime, or £12.95 in the evening.
To start, I munched on a hunk of course chicken liver pâté spread over lightly toasted, crunchy bread and served with an unnecessary, yet colourful side salad of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and grated carrot (£4.95).
Meanwhile, my guest played it safe with a prawn cocktail. Although the presentation could have been better, this was brimming with tasty king prawns, drenched in a delicious Thousand Island dressing, sitting atop a crisp side salad (£5.25). Classic and simple, it reminded me of the prawn cocktail my Nan used to serve before dinner on Christmas Day.
My main course of tagliatelle al salmone consisted of fresh pasta ribbons coated in a silky sauce of cream, tomatoes and white wine, interspersed with succulent smoked salmon morsels (£9.45).
My guest’s spaghetti marinara consisted of a mound of al dente spaghetti crammed with juicy mussels, tender king prawns and clams in an aromatic tomato, garlic and basil sauce (£9.45).
We both agreed that this was the most authentic Italian meal we’ve had the pleasure of eating for some time now, and I have no doubt that we will return again in the very near future. The tagliatelle alla salmone was one of the tastiest pasta dishes I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again on my next visit to Zio Pin; although I’m just as tempted to work my way through the entire menu. As we were so full up on pasta, we didn’t have enough room left for dessert, so we left it at that. Next time, I’ll be ploughing straight on with my main to make sure I’ve got room left for some homemade limoncello!
74 Albany Road
(029) 2048 5673
I’d love to hear about your all-time favourite Italian dish. Why not drop me a message in the comment box below?