Buonissimo!,

1 Albany Rd, Harborne,

Birmingham

B17 9JX

buonissimouk.com

Telephone: 0121 426 2444

Think Italy, think food. Think Buonissimo. Like all the best restaurants, Buonissimo’s full of regular local customers. Marco gave us a warm welcome and a tour around this haven in white and deep blue - the main restaurant space is downstairs, with the Mediterranean Room and bar upstairs. Marco and his staff were very attentive, and rightly proud of their modern twist on traditional Italian fare. They were proud, too, of being one of only two Birmingham restaurants mentioned in the Toptable Top Fifty British Restaurants.

The choice menu changes with the seasons, using local suppliers when possible. The wine list is carefully chosen. Try the Pinot Grigio Blush from a small producer in Friuli.

We ordered the belly pork and pasta as starters, but were brought a ‘little extra’ - bruschetta with aubergine mousse, slow-roast tomatoes and crispy Parma ham. How can toast be so delicious? How can you get that depth of flavour from tomato? It was a meal in itself. Then came our crispy, succulent pork in a delicious sauce, polenta chips that were a revelation, and comforting rustic pasta.

For mains, I had the Puglian fish stew - always a good test of a chef. It was spot on - chunks of fish presented in a deep tomato sauce. My partner had the duck, which fell off the bone, the cavolo nero - or black cabbage retaining its flavour.

The desserts of homemade amaretto tart and panettone pudding didn’t disappoint, and were washed down with sips of Nocello, a walnut liqueur. We waddled back to the car feeling full but very happy. It was the best Italian meal I've ever had outside of Italy - simply divine. Check out the lunchtime and early evening menus too, because they offer a particularly good deal. We brought away a menu, because we will undoubtedly return to this little piece of Italy just off Harborne High Street.

Reviewed by Jan Watts


5 Stars on Wed, 11 Dec 2013