Al Duomo7 Pavilion Buildings
Tel: +44 (0)1273 326741
Guide price: £25
Cuisine types: ITALIAN | PUBS/BARS
Penne, lingune, canelloni, spaghetti, tortellini, fettuccine, tagliatelle - that's talking Italian. Could it be Robert De Niro's waiting?
But no, it's Tony the manager who greets us the evening we visit Al Duomo for dinner. And although he doesn't have quite the same film star cache he's extremely welcoming and courteous - and all those pastas, and more, are on the menu too.
Al Duomo, nestled near to the Royal Pavilion in Pavilion Buildings, has had a make over. Completely refurbished during the early part of the year, it's now open plan with the ground-floor restaurant divided lengthways into two - half of which is a bar area with seating.
Upstairs is almost a mezzanine level where, from several vantage points, you can survey what's going on downstairs as well as having a view on the stars/sky/rooftops courtesy of the new glass roof. There's also plenty of bare brickwork around and a party room for hire in the basement.
So here we are seated upstairs, on an already dark Monday evening choosing what to drink. We settle for a smooth red and look over the menu.
For starters I choose salmone affumicato - smoked salmon with lemon, salad and creamed horseradish - simple, fresh and tasty ingredients with a spot of black pepper of course. Funghi provencale, or mushrooms cooked in butter and garlic, is Jim's choice. We both wonder over the dinky size of the mushrooms and their identical look - could they be…. tinned? They don't taste it and a quick look back at the menu confirms their billing as fresh.
The staff are differing degrees of friendly - some are like lightening and others stop to chat. Jim particularly likes one waitress's line in customer service, but while he's thinking about that I'm distracted by Tony who draws my attention to the specials board.
As you might expect being by the sea, there's a range of fish on offer including tuna and swordfish. After a bit of indecision I decide on the grilled sea bass, while Jim goes for Aberdeen sirloin steak in peppercorn sauce, from the menu. And then we realise we haven't chosen anything Italian, which seems a shame given the range of pastas on offer.
We don't feel too miffed once they arrive because first impressions are good. My seabass is golden and served with chipped potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. There's also some surprise curly lettuce and tomato too. The fish tastes succulent with not a hint of dryness - perfectly cooked - the addition of a creamed vegetable for my taste, would have made it even better.
Jim's has plenty of sauce though, running across the plate, delicious and creamy with tiny peppercorns cooked to popping succulence. The steak is medium rare and, he says, just like his Mum makes each Christmas - now there's a compliment.
Mellow now and full, we debate the idea of sharing a pudding but - hell, decide to go for one each. I can recommend the homemade crème caramel as being the stuff of dreams - it was large, creamy and delicious, the best - and Jim's fruit tart was very fruity and fluffy.
The meal came to about £55, including the wine at £14.95. We thought it good, straightforward food in a pleasant setting.
Oct 2003Guide price £25