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Delightful city Italian with slick and attentive service; THE TASTE TEAM CHECKS OUT PORRO, WELLFIELD ROAD, ROATH...

THEY have already established a firm favourite in Cardiff city centre with the Potted Pig and brought a taste of Italy to Llandaff with Porro.

Now Cerys Furlong and the team have branched out, opening a second Porro right in the heart of Roath on the increasingly popular Wellfield Road.

There are already food options galore in this part of Cardiff, but Porro Wellfield, which opened last week, will give them all a good run for their money.

We booked an early dinner on a Tuesday and had our choice of tables, only because 98% of Cardiff didn't even know it had opened yet.

Teething problems don't seem to be an issue here whatsoever. The quality of food and excellent service would make you think it had been open for months or even years.

We heard another table comment that the service had been disappointing. But we couldn't disagree more. It was slick and attentive, friendly and professional but not at all overbearing.

Water was brought over straight away. We were given the right amount of time to consider the menu and be delivered the bill as well as having good breathing space between courses.

We were never searching for the waitress or our next plate of food. We never felt restless or rushed.

The decor is stylish with its brick wall on one side and green bench seating on the other with plenty of tables in between. It's modern but still comfortable, warm and inviting - perfect for its autumn opening. Even the music helped create the right atmosphere. We immediately felt relaxed. My partner, as the designated driver, was content with water which was continually topped up without having to ask. I chose a small glass of beautiful Primitivo Rosso. The wine menu offers a good selection and is reasonably priced.

There was also plenty to choose from on the menu. The appetisers included everything from braised leeks with grilled taleggio on toast to polpette, but my partner was looking for something light and fresh ahead of a large main course of pasta.

He opted for the Puglian burrata with watercress, shaved fennel, dried datterini tomatoes and parmesan. The cheese was a wonderful discovery being softer and creamier than buffalo mozzarella and was complimented well by the crisp salad.

The day after Halloween, I couldn't help but go for the roast pumpkin tortellini with sage butter and parmesan. Pumpkin is not usually a vegetable I would be excited about but the three pieces of tortellini looked delightful as it arrived at the table. The rich pumpkin was smooth and delicate with the sage and lemon juice. We were already looking forward to our main courses.

We both had to go for pasta for our mains. My partner chose the pappardelle (one of his favourites) with braised Welsh ox cheek and parmesan. As the larger size (you can have a smaller portion at PS8 or the larger main course size is PS15), he was impressed by the amount of meat on his plate which was falling apart at the touch. The pasta was just as good and the presentation was excellent making it a hearty and satisfying dish perfect for an autumn or winter's night. But the sauce, a kind of tomato ragu base, although tasty, lacked the wow factor he was hoping for.

I opted for the linguine al granchio - crab, chilli and zucchini. A classic Italian dish but this was not like the many I'd tried before. Again, this dish also has the option of a smaller (PS7) and larger (PS13) size providing flexibility perhaps for lunch. The courgette is not always seen in this kind of dish but I loved it. It added freshness to the crab which was delicious. The dish could have done with a little more chilli for me and maybe being hotter temperature-wise as well. But it was a lovely plate of food that I enjoyed every spoonful of.

We don't usually have room for dessert but there was so many light options available that we couldn't resist. My partner chose Cox's apple sorbet and the lemon and mascarpone ice cream. The two scoops (PS4) were a perfect amount.

He even had the choice of two types of apple sorbet and as someone with a passion for citric flavours, described the sorbet as the best he'd ever tasted. I chose the panacotta with poached pears. I often find panacotta disappointing but this was one of the best. Light but rich in vanilla, it was delicious with the caramalised poached pears. It also came with a biscotti which, although a lovely addition, was probably unnecessary. The panacotta and pears were fabulous on their own.

We love Italy and after years of trying to find an amazing Italian in Cardiff, we are so pleased we have found one of them. We wish Porro Wellfield luck, not that it will need it, and we can't wait to go back.

| Porro is at 57 Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff, CF5 2DZ. Tel: 029 22 402200. Visit Food is served on Mondays to Saturdays from 8.30am to 11.30am, noon to 5pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm. It's open on Sundays from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

Linguine al granchio Panacotta with poached pears Pappardelle with braised Welsh ox cheek and parmesan
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 12, 2016
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