Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Villa Napoli, Penarth

There was a young couple with a toddler and a baby in a pushchair, families like ours with older children, a well-behaved Hen Party starting out for the evening (with their mums), gentlemen dressed in Bullingdon Club-style tailcoats, and elderly tourists from the attached hotel. No surprise this all takes places in an Italian restaurant: Villa Napoli in Penarth.

Villa Napoli is located on the ground floor of the Glendale Hotel on Plymouth Road, not far from the railway station, between the NatWest Bank and ffotogallery at The Turner House (interesting exhibition of contemporary Iranian photographers until 12 May). This family-run restaurant has been here for over 20 years, and apparently it looks exactly the same as it did back then (something timeless about an Italian restaurant maybe).

For starters we shared a plate of Bruschetta and a platter of mixed anti-pasta. Highlight for me here was the deep fried brie. The bread, olives, melon, avocado, Parma and other hams were as good as expected, although the perfectly good calamari felt a little out of place in this company.

For main, I went for the mixed seafood: mussels, large prawns, cockles, calamari, salmon. The mussels were excellent; and the word seemed to have got out, given the number of dishes containing mussels that were going past. The piece of salmon bordered on the hesitantly small, as if not sure whether to gatecrash the abundant seafood. It was most welcome. The seafood was on a base of rice and cream sauce. The sauce was good, but lacked a certain something that could have lightened it and lifted it to the next level.

I shared a dish of vegetables (small roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli) with my partner, who went for one of the Veal dishes; served in a stilton cream sauce with asparagus (they like their cream in this kitchen). Not usually one to go for blue cheese, it was a brave choice, but one that paid off because it was a splendidly rich sauce that perfectly complemented the tasty meat.

For dessert, the kids shared a Death by Chocolate, served hot with ice cream. It was collapsed, if not dead, under the weight of chocolate during heating; but still looked great due to the expertly dribbled chocolate all around the plate. Cheesecake of the Day was lemon, and this was our other choice.

Between us we drank a glass of wine, orange juice, a couple of J2Os, and finished with coffees (total bill £79.75). Not the cheapest Italian in the area, but Villa Napoli has a very good claim to being Penarth’s best Italian restaurant. There’s a good atmosphere and you’ll be mingling with an interesting cross section of Penarthian society.

A stretch limo arrived to take the Hen Party (without mums) to the bright lights of Cardiff. We headed home in more modest transport.

Villa Napoli
Glendale Hotel
10 Plymouth Road
Vale of Glamorgan CF64 3DH
029 2070 8302

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