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Nico’s of Derby

Nico’s of Derby
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I’ve been wondering recently just why restaurants and café bars in Italy have such an attraction for me, is it the busy buzz of chatter, is it the rustic décor and cheerful colours, or is it just the combination of herbs and oils that lends Italian country cooking its distinctive character? Our visit to Nico’s restaurant on Brick Street in Derby was on a rainy autumn evening and with dark grey clouds overhead we dodged the showers and headed for the inviting warmth of the restaurant. Although the restaurant is now owned by the Stannard family and head chef David is decidedly English, the menu was created by an Italian and has a definite authentic ring. David has, of course been involved with the restaurant all along so the transition from his brother, who was the previous head chef was bound to be a smooth one. The restaurant is quite small with approximately 30 covers so booking is a good idea as its popularity grows. With a glass of Peroni in hand and a bowl of mixed olives to nibble we looked through the menu. My husband is definitely not adventurous and I second guessed his choice of a mushroom starter followed by Calzone. His starter really did smell delicious, with a Tuscan sauce (£3.20) and melted cheese topped with garlic bread I could see why this is his firm favourite. For me the seafood platter with whitebait, calamari and prawns in a light batter served with a dip of garlic mayonnaise sounded lovely, with just a small side salad it proved a light starter (£3.80). Traditional lasagna, layered with a finely ground beef bolognese sauce and oven baked was served to me sizzling hot with garlic bread and a dressed side salad, this one dish meal had a lovely rich sauce and browned cheese topping (£8.00). Calzone is basically a folded pizza but it allows for more ingredients to fill it, the quality of the dough is also important as it needs to be soft but not heavy. Nico’s cook this dish with confidence and flare and the added bolognese sauce makes it into a really hearty meal. (£7.00+£1.00). Although pizzas and pasta dishes are a specialty, the menu also has a selection other dishes such as chicken and fish, all with that Italian flavour. We finished with tarte tatin and an amazing chocolate ice cream bomb. Our waitresses for the evening were really helpful, patient and friendly. A family atmosphere pervades making it great for groups and celebrations, but there are also quiet corners where you can enjoy a more intimate evening. The full evening menu is available from 6pm till 10pm Monday to Saturday. You can find both the wine and beer menu and a copy of the buffet menu (available for outside catering) on their website. To book a table ‘phone: 01332 208220

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