Gino D’Acampo

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

January, 2018

Product name

Gino D'Acampo

Product country

Leeds

Product city

Leeds

Travelled with

Reasons for trip

Gino D’Acampo is the Napoli born and raised ‘cheeky-chappie’ tv chef and cookery book author who appears regularly on our television screens in the U.K. whether on his own cookery shows, travelogues, panel shows, game shows, reality shows or, it seems, anything on offer.

He originally owned a company which supplied Italian cooking ingredients to the food industry and later became involved in the development of ready meals, including the Tesco Finest range.

He became known to the nation as a chef by appearances on morning television with the This Morning programme.

In 2013 he launched a chain of restaurants bearing his name and this was followed by pasta bars. He now has restaurants in many cities in the U.K.

His Leeds City Centre branch, opened in the last couple of years, was subjected to quite poor local reviews initially, it has to be said, though I have not eaten there myself. It is still open and so I am sure it must have recovered from the early problems.

A multi-million pound shopping, dining and entertainment centre on the outskirts of Leeds at Thorpe Park opened in October 2018 and a Gino D’Acampo restaurant opened there as part of a huge Next shop.
The centre as a whole is not yet quite fully open, the cinema complex and a couple of other restaurants open in March 2019.

As a member of the Club Individual loyalty scheme, which covers a number of other restaurants, I was invited to sample the Christmas menu range at the new Gino’s restaurant there and a fine occasion it was.

Having been tempted, my partner and I returned in January 2019 for lunch to see for ourselves what was on the regular menus.

The premises is contemporary in décor, having apparently been inspired by Riva, the Italian yacht designers. It has grey marble floors, grey plank or tiled walls, a black painted roof with black ventilation ducts, whilst the furniture is light oak with turquoise leatherette chairs, bench seats and alcoves.
There is also a small deli/shop with Gino products and books.
It caters for 150 diners and is open 7 days a week.

To the front is a slim-line Prosecco bar with a few tables which then leads around the central kitchen to a larger side dining area and outdoor terrace, whilst further round is the main restaurant. There is even a place for outdoor games such as table tennis and table football in warmer months.
Free wi-fi is on tap.

The place is described as ‘a little slice of Lazio on the edge of Leeds’.
There is a copper-clad wood fired pizza oven in the central kitchen where the chef brigade can be seen at work.

On a cold and dreary January Friday lunchtime, as we passed, the place was full and cheerful. The soundtrack playing was lively and added to the buzzy atmosphere.
Gino’s has apparently already established itself as a popular venue.

We arrived for the lunch and early evening menu which is served from noon to 6pm with 1 course at £9.50, 2 courses at £13.50 and 3 courses for £16.50.

My Arrancini starter comprised of four large crispy balls of mushroom risotto with slices of buffalo mozzarella and a pot of tomato and a cold red pepper dipping sauce. My partner enjoyed a wonderful, hearty bowl of Ribollita soup which was a hefty wedge of toasted ciabatta bread, half submerged in a deliciously rustic, chunky vegetable soup.
My main was a Super-spicy pizza with hot salami, ndjuda, mozzarella, peppers and chilli on a thin crispy base. Cooked in the wood fired oven it was done to perfection, though light on the quantity of toppings, I felt.

Across the table, the choice was Aubergine Parmigiana, a lasagne style dish but with layers of aubergine, smoked pravola cheese, parmesan and fresh basil. This choice was quite well received.

It is sometimes the case that a ‘light bite, lunch or early bird’ menu is just an excuse to cut down the portions for cheaper prices and maybe that was the case with the pizza toppings. We could not go for a third course.

Overall the meal was adequate without being outstanding or providing the ‘wow’ factor. Other friends of ours have been to this restaurant and have not been impressed with the food. There are other Italian restaurants in the vicinity which are better by comparison.

Other choices were a three course set menu at £26, Mains and sharing platters from £11.50 to £26.75 for steak, and pizzas from £9.50 to £12, as well as the usual small plates and accompaniments.
Desserts are from £4.75 to £8.75 for cheese.
There are also separate children’s and gluten free menus.

All the front of house staff were welcoming, smiley and enthusiastic.

Just one jarring note. I personally do not like to see a ‘discretionary’ service charge (in this case 10%). It was automatically added to the bill.
If it was meant to be truly discretionary why was I not asked beforehand?
I much prefer to decide for myself and often leave more for exceptional service, but then that is perhaps just me?

For details of menu and restaurant locations go to: www.ginodacamporestaurants.com whilst for the Thorpe Park location, set the sat-nav for LS15 8ZB. It is just off junction 46 of the M1,has acres of free parking and a range of shops for browsing.

Paul Brown

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