Nuovo, an Italian restaurant tucked away in Northampton Town Centre has long been a family favourite of mine. In my opinion it is most definitely Northamptonshires best kept dining secret and I was absolutely thrilled to hear it had been recognised for its dining experience with an AA Rosette Star this month. Just five years after opening its doors on Abington Street, Nuovo has been named by the AA Restaurant Guide for some of the best food, drink and ambience in the town. I couldn’t agree more and to celebrate this milestone, we decided to revisit the restaurant and remind ourselves why it is so very much deserving of this prestigious title. Head chef Scott Williams came to Northampton following years in Michelin Star restaurants and even a spell on Richard Branson’s private island, Necker. Nuovo specialise in “cicchetti” - a venetian term for small plates. Most would think the word ‘small plate’ and ‘Itallian restaurant’ would never be paired, although trust me, it’s the best possible pairing! Cicchetti gives you the opportunity to try more than just a mound of pasta and instead really ‘taste Italy’ all in one meal - I can transport myself to sitting in the hills of Capri, soaking up the sun with a glass of wine enjoying plate after plate after plate of delicious Italian cuisine… back in the room!! We were greeted with an extremely warm welcome and seated at the bar while waiting to be seated. The bar staff are incredibly knowledgeable; Suggesting a variety of cocktails and G&T combinations I could try; including a wide selection of both local and world wide gins. I opted for a Cotswolds Gin which I was advised would be a bold and intense combination of 9 botanicals with undertones of lavender. It did not disappoint. An absolute delight to my taste buds. Paired with mediteranian tonic and a selection of fresh botanicals including a stem of lavender and sage. My partner opted for the Itallian Draught of choice; Poretti 3. We were soon seated at our table at the rear of the restaurant on a raised level which had a fabulous view overlooking the buzzing atmosphere of the Friday night, date night rush. Our waiter introduced himself and talked us through the evening specials. His knowledge of the specials, and the menu as a whole, truly blew us away. I always like to try at least one special, although I do have a few firm favourites on the menu too. Our waiter advised three-four dishes is usually plenty for most, and there’s always the option to order more as you go. In truth, we find it a bit of a challenge to agree when it comes to food. While my partner could devour a whole farm, I like to mix it up with vegetable dishes, breads and cheeses. Maybe our eyes were bigger than our bellies, but we decided to be rebels and ordered 5 dishes! Within 5 minutes as we nibbled our way through a fresh bread tin, olive oil and balsamic, the food started to be delivered to our table as it was being cooked. First came the Zucchini Fritti. The fried zucchini dish was an absolute delight to our taste buds. The lemon, salt and aioli combination with a crispy texture. This tasty vegetable dish was a great start. Bistecca Con Tartufo followed, what a show stopper. The beef simply melts in the mouth with an oaky flavour from the truffle dressing. My meat loving boyfriend was truly blown away and very nearly ordered a second dish. (I only got two slices, the cheek!) Calamari, an all time favourite of ours came next. Seasoned with sea salt, parsley and lemon. Nuovo does not serve your average calamari. Nope. Their Calamari is a total explosion of flavours.

The herb crushed potatoes were the perfect accompaniment to the whole meal. Lightly crushed new potatoes with a full bodied flavour created by a perfect combination of herbs, garlic and butter. Last but by NO means least arrived the Quince Glazed Pork Belly. On arrival we were informed it was Northamptonshire bred pork, salt cured, slow-roasted, sliced and crisp fried. All I really have to say about this dish is WOW! If you like sweet pork dishes, this is for you. The meat fell off of the bone and the rich, complex sweetness of the balsamic glaze was to die for. Overall, we found the variety of plates fun to explore as we shared, dipped in and out of each dish and could both experience the flavours together. No food envy tonight! The perfect date night. As much as I LOVE overflowing bowls of pasta, nobody wants a food baby on date night. At Nuovo, we had a tasting menu of our favourite highlights of Italian food and finished our mains feeling incredibly content with very full bellies. Did this mean we said no to the desert menu? Don’t be silly! We decided to share an Apricot and White Peach sorbet. Something light and palate cleansing. It was so fresh, fruity and refreshing! A drizzle of raspberry jus and topped with Cantucci; a traditional almond biscuit, which really brought the flavours all together. All of which was washed down beautifully with a bottle of itallian prosecco.

Our bill came to just over £100. But, considering this included a bread tin, 5 incredible dishes, a desert and a bottle of prosecco - from an AA Rosette Star Restaurant - I’d say that’s pretty good going. My favourite restaurant in the town, by a mile!