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Jamie’s Italian review

Jonathan Schofield checks out Liverpool’s charming chef man before he opens in Manchester

Written by . Published on September 30th 2010.


Jamie’s Italian review

“So which is the busier?” I asked the funny young waiter. “This place or San Carlo?”“Difficult to say,” he grinned. “I’d say we’re more popular. But I would, wouldn’t I? I’ve heard bad things about San Carlo.”

The whole afternoon at Jamie’s watching the people come and go was totally engaging. The mix of ages, the variety of people, the banter from the staff and those olives, the mains and wine, made for a winning combination

He paused. “But then again I’ve heard bad things about us,” he said, moving off with a laugh.

2010929Story-JamiessouvenirshopThe lad could have been a scouse Jamie Oliver. A charmer.

Let’s consider a moment the cult of personality.

For some it’s the Pope, for some it’s Kim Jong-Il, for others it may even be Kerry Katona (who apparently is in Iceland now, as I am), but for many a foodie lover it’s the boy Jamie Oliver.

Jamie is a diamond geezer. If he has a cult it’s based on being decent, on having a naturally “nice” face, and an approachable character. He could do loan-sharking and he’d still be a diamond geezer. He could even go to America and make right dick of himself and get away with it. Or maybe endorse Sainsbury’s products and we’d still love him.

I recall a visit of some Swedish journalists when The Naked Chef was being broadcast over there a few years back.

“You know, Jonathan,” said a good-looking fortysomething, “I’ve told my husband that if Jamie offered himself I would definitely say yes. My husband understands.”

Chef with ham for head

2010929Story-ChefwithhamforheadJamie’s a diamond geezer and Jamie’s Italian on Paradise Street is a diamond caterer.

If you want to spread your name far and wide with a chain restaurant, this is a model. All the customers know that the rustic wooden fittings, the hams hanging from the bar and the fresh pasta-making man were dreamt up in a concept marketing meeting, but it’s all carried through with such verve you forgive it.

The food has verve too. Especially the savoury part.

Let me sing a song for the mozzarella del bufala with pesto (£4.55), or write an ode to those juicy babes, the self-declared “World’s best olives on ice” (£3.55) - which might one day be the weirdest reality TV show ever conceived.

2010929Story-Theworldsbestolives....BloodygoodindeedThe world's best olives... bloody good indeed

The olives came with an equally fetching caper and anchovy tapenade. Oh and also with some “music bread” which I’ve never heard of before and don’t want to research because I don’t want to spoil the mystery of their strange silence.

A specials board main of sole (£12.95) came with salsa verde and a load of salad including sliced fennel. It was perfect. Just bloody perfect. A simple fish not messed about with – all the delicate flavours brought out by the lemon and a gracious salsa verde.

Simple sole food

2010929Story-Simplesolefood%282%29The other main – and another special – brought slow cooked (15 hours) lamb shanks (£12.95), with polenta and roasted root vegetables. This was a hearty feast of a dish with gorgeous flesh and great veg which left a residual bowl of meaty juice just right for slurping with a spoon.

(I could do with that dish right now dear reader, as a Force 8 gale bangs in off the Atlantic here in Iceland. Where’s Kerry for a cuddle when you need her?)

Tirama-boo

Sadly the imperial crown of Jamie Oliver’s empire slipped over the desserts.

I got a special tiramisu (£4.95) that was terrible: no mascarpone to speak of, no definition, as interesting as staring at the pavement. Meanwhile an “Amalfi lemon curd” (£4.95) with toasted pistachios and English raspberries was equally taste free. The pistachios were so dominant and made everything so gritty it felt like the dessert had been quarried not cooked.

Quarried Curd

2010929Story-QuarriedcurdAs for drinks, I was dining with the Liverpool Confidential editor, Angie, chatting about world domination and we managed to kill a couple of bottles of a lovely red – the Salice Salentino Masseria at £18.40 a go. It was rich in aroma, smooth and heavyweight in flavour and, unfortunately, 14.5%: an alcoholic strength that makes the tongue swell and the motion sluggish.

Yet despite the poor desserts the whole afternoon at Jamie’s watching the people come and go was totally engaging. The mix of ages, the variety of people, the banter from the staff and those olives, the mains and wine, made for a winning combination.

Waitress gives advice

2010929Story-WaitressgivesadviceOf course, as with all chains, there’s a big engine of administration and marketing pumping away somewhere. The thing is with Jamie’s Italian, as with a Rolls-Royce engine, you just can’t hear it.

Instead Jamie’s evident love of Italian food, the good service, and the food make it feel more individual than a concept or a theme. For once a mid-market Italian chain seems worth its organic, tickled, caressed and massaged sea salt.

Outside it's a bit drab, inside it's busy, busy, busy

Rating:15/20
Breakdown:7.5/10 food
3.5/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:Jamie's Italian, Liverpool
45 Paradise Street
Liverpool 1
Liverpool
L1 3DN
0151 559 9830


Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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21 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

FoodographicSeptember 29th 2010.

Jenny used to stock Carta di Musica in Atlas deli. It's a Sardinian flat-bread. Didn't sell well as no-one knew what it was - now you know.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2010.

That fish dish looks good. People tend to over complicate Italian food over here.

ellpollolocoSeptember 30th 2010.

Carta di Musica sold in Granthams, Alderley Edge or online at Vallebona....lovely stuff!

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2010.

Really pleased that this is a good review, other articles about Jamie's Italian have had loads of people slate it in the comments but I've always thought it was great.

I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone rants about it being rubbish despite the review though.

Leigh ScottSeptember 30th 2010.

'The proof will be in eating an'all that'

P.s I can't think of anything more Hilarious than Jamie Oliver having a go on some 40 something bird! Dribbling and lisping everywhere

Her husband might well understand...

BinmanSeptember 30th 2010.

its rubbish

Mark MottramSeptember 30th 2010.

I went to the one in Glasgow recently, and was not looking forward to it beforehand. I was so shocked when it was really good and really friendly. Dishes disappeared off the menu as they ran out (showing that they make em fresh daily) and the wine was well priced. Mix in an engaging friendly staff and you are on to a winner. Apart from the 'Jamieisms' on the menu (smashing beans, pukkah peas etc) it is great.

NickSeptember 30th 2010.

Heard mixed reviews of the various "Jamie's" around the country - my wife was recently recommended the panna cotta by a waiter on account of it being "from New Zealand." Make of that what you will.

As for the San Carlo's in Liverpool and Manchester, they're world's apart in terms of ambience. I've been in both many times, but it's only the Liverpool branch that seems to be blighted by plastic gangsters - think Tony Soprano on a bad day mooching into Artie Bucco's.

Utter rudeness and foul language which the waiting staff (to my surprise) let go without a word. If they tried it in King Street they'd be out on their ear, no?

It's a problem with Liverpool as a whole, admittedly.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2010.

Have never tried the Italian, but I can say that Jamies 15 in Amsterdam and more recently Cornwall rate as some of the best overall dining experiences I have ever had.

Mixed reviewsOctober 1st 2010.

My wife and I went to Jamies in Bath last summer and my wife got food poisoning from the Crab there. They were initially suspect and even though they didnt admit liability they fully reimbursed us with vouchers which we spent out Jamies at Canary Wharf in London which was wicked. I'll deffo be visiting L-Pool soon.

Mady JOctober 3rd 2010.

Jamie's Italian is very genuine, from the heart, that's the difference

NortherngeezerOctober 4th 2010.

Mixed Reviews - Jamie Oliver gives me the shits too...............PUKKA!!!!

Jonathan Schofield -editorOctober 4th 2010.

You lot honestly - quit with the dubious claims of poisoning. There is no way unless you do forensic studies on the contents of your stomach and then check through all the meals, drinks and other food and drink you've had over the last 24 hours that you can definitely, absolutely prove that you got food poisoning from a given place. It may have been a bad beer ten minutes before the restaurant visit. Further it may not be poisoning - a heavy perjorative term - it may be something that 'disagreed with you', to use my gran's phrase. Secondly maybe you were pissed for three days before and rich food tipped you over the edge. Perhaps if a group of 20 people go and all have the same dish and then are all ill, there may be body of evidence to suggest that you got poisoned. Otherwise it's cruel, unwise, unfunny and bollocks to say you got food poisoning. Criticise the food and the service and the ambience and the decor on here but I'm minded to remove all vague food poisoning rants.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Alan WharrierJanuary 18th 2012.

Well said Jonathan!

Jonathan Schofield -editorOctober 4th 2010.

By the way maybe I've got a strong stomach but I've eaten out maybe twice a week or more for the last seven years in many countries and I have not once had 'food poisoning'. As for Jamie's aside from the puddings it was a lovely place to visit with good food.

NortherngeezerOctober 4th 2010.

Ed - I still maintain Jamie Oliver gives me the shits..............and its nowt to do with the food ;-)

Jonathan Schofield -editorOctober 4th 2010.

Northern Geezer that makes no sense. Do you mean you're scared of him - or the restuarant?

NortherngeezerOctober 4th 2010.

Ed - For some reason he reminds me of David Bellamys love child...........and thats enuff to scare anyone!!!!.

Andy BarnettOctober 19th 2010.

Bit of a mixed bag i'm afraid. From the outside very uninspiring but inside was vastly improved with a generally decent vibe and decor.
As for the food..the starters were either a mess,(Bruschetta/Cheese and Tomato), overstacked or the 'more style than substance' (Meat/Cheese Platter) and overpriced.
The mains were average. We had the Steak, Jamie Burger (Messy and difficult to eat) and a very average Cheese Pasta dish.
Sides you paid for separately which bumped up the costs, even though the Roasted Fennel was delicious..
Service was again ok but nothing to shout about. However on the plus side the waiter did his best to fend off the 'foody interrogation' from the drunk and disorderly 'Earl of Didsbury' who fired them at him at a rate of knots before capitulating under the volume of fine real ales, fruity Belgian Trappist beers and Prosecco he had drunk! He then fell asleep..Loser!!

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2012.

A Very Mixed Bag. But Then No One Is Perfect.
Everyone Forgets, That Jamie Will Not Be Cooking There.

Jules KhanMarch 5th 2012.

Jamie's Italian - great venue but at what price?

Went for lunch at Jamie's new "Jewel In His Crown" last week. Food was fresh and tasty. Atmosphere fab. Great value. Then we hear that the place is being run on 17 hour shifts for the kitchen staff...thought slave labour was a thing of the past. Shame on you Jamie.

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