Monday, 7 April 2014

Mother's Day Pt II - Gemelli Zafferano, Newport

Next up was the turn of my mother in law for a bit of spoiling! We've all been lusting over Gemelli Zafferano on Bridge St, Newport for some time, so this was the perfect excuse. Although, as you know by now, I don't need an excuse for good food!

Gemelli Zafferano is the original of the two Gemelli restaurants in Newport, having been opened back in 1996. The second has only been opened within the last year, in a retail park the other side of town. We visited that Gemelli back last November, and had a fabulous meal, despite the odd setting (underneath a Tesco Extra) so we were looking forward to checking out the original.

The Bridge Street restaurant is so unassuming from the outside, it looks like a little shack on a railway bridge. Which is exactly what it is, until you get inside the door. The second the door opens the garlic hits you and you're transported into a little cafe in Italy. Over decorated and chintzy in the best kind of way, this tiny little shack has about 7 tables in various setups, it's a lot bigger than it looks. Statues of Venus are propped in corners and classical paintings adorn the walls and ceilings.

But as always, I'm all about the food. Gemelli has an amazing reputation when it comes to all things cake, so I (unusually for me) gave the starters a miss to make sure I had dessert room! Everyone else did the same, so the waiter kindly provided us with some crunchy garlic bread and tangy olives to munch on whilst waiting for our mains. And I'm never one to say no to anything garlicky...

Between us we ordered veal, the T-Bone steak and I ordered the seafood spaghetti, which was one of the daily specials. My mother-in-law ordered the interestingly named spaghetti Catherine Zeta Jones, which is a creamy seafood dish apparently made for the lady herself.

Every dish was more than impressive on arrival. All were served in or on huge dishes and bowls, and really beautifully presented. My dish was huge, served in it's own tagine. Spaghetti with a whole host of sea creatures... langoustines, prawns, scallops, mussels, clams etc. The seafood was cooked wonderfully and I loved the shell-on seafood, I don't mind getting stuck in and mucky fingered! There was SO much seafood in the dish, which is no complaint of mine.

Unfortunately, I found the sauce really lacking in flavour. I was expecting there to be more garlic, more chilli or more something. What little sauce there was didn't stick to the pasta, as it was very watery, and I found the dish a little bit more quantity over quality. I really would have liked a bit less seafood, and a more flavourful sauce to enjoy it with. The fish was cooked so well, it was such a shame they were so shellfish with the sauce... *cringe*

That being said, everyone else had a fantastic main. The men both had the T-Bone and veal, which both looked incredible, and the creamy CZJ spaghetti was making me very jealous across the table!

Once that was all washed down with yet another bottle of Montepulciano, we finally allowed ourselves a look at the cake counter, which in all honesty was the main event that we were all here for.

And it did not disappoint. After a long debate with myself over the extremely chocolatey roulade or the amaretto sponge, amaretto won. Such a light and fluffy almondy sponge which was topped with a thick cream and two amaretto biscuits. The cream was quite heavy for me (not a complaint, I'm just not much of a cream fan) but I definitely made light work of those biscuits.

And this is why everyone keeps coming back to this tiny little gem. Both the cakes and the service were second to none. The waiter and waitress kept an eye on everything, keeping our glasses topped up and ensured we were always munching on something, whilst not being intrusive in any way.

The spectacle of the bill is also something to behold at Gemelli's. We'd experienced something similar in the sister restaurant, but weren't sure we'd get it here too. But lo and behold, out comes the bill, in a little box disguised like a bible, and a large teapot surrounded in dry ice, bearing goodies underneath of a shot of limoncello each to round of the meal. Which was the perfect palette cleanser after all that cake!

I would definitely recommend Gemellis for all lovers of chintz, cake and classic Italian cooking. I'll defintely be back, although I think I'll be popping in to try a daytime coffee and cake next time. Mmmm...cake....

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