Eating Out - Pesto at the Dicconson Arms

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There’s a couple of things I would like to get off my chest before we get on to the actual review of the food at Appley Bridge’s Pesto. First off, pasta with some kind of meat is my go-to meal of

choice. The seeds were sewn during the years of cooking for myself as a student and it is has now flourished into my number one comfort food option.

So much so that when I hear professional sportspeople moaning about having to shovel down pasta and boiled chicken at strange times of the day depending on kick-offs, I think: “I’d quite like that, don’t know what the fuss is about.”

If it wasn’t for my metabolism slowing down as I increase in years I would happily hit the carbs most nights.

My second observation is this would be a great place to go on a date. Whether you should trust this assertion - given my and wife and I have been in a relationship for almost 15 years now - is another question. But, if I were on the dating scene, this seems like a good place to go given its bright and breezy atmosphere and modern layout.

The Italian Tapas style menu also gives love’s young dream the chance to choose several little dishes, giving a more wide-ranging experience than the sometimes limiting norm of two or three courses.

My two-year-old particularly enjoyed having so many plates of food thrust within arm’s reach and quickly dispensed of his cutlery and started to tuck-in caveman style

It gives you a chance to work out if your date is a Joey Tribbiani-style “Joey doesn’t share food” type. If so, then maybe you should think twice about that second date as there’s an obvious character flaw there and the relationship is not worth pursuing.

Now, with those two starters out of the way, let’s get onto the food. It’s fair to say, given my preference for all things pasta, a restaurant offering a vast array of small plates “piattinis” of Italian favourites would be an ideal choice.

We visited as a group of five adults and a toddler and opted for the daytime menu offering three piattinis for £10.95.

There were 17 options available so we jettisoned two of our collective least favourites and asked for the remaining 15 dishes for us to share in a well mannered free-for-all.

Stand-out performers were the pizzette tonno e cipolla rosa, a traditional style thin crust pizza with tuna and red onion plus the arancini, deep-fried balls of saffron risotto rice stuffed with mozzarella; delicious.

My two-year-old (pictured right) particularly enjoyed having so many plates of food thrust within arm’s reach and quickly dispensed of his cutlery and started to tuck-in caveman style.

His compliments to the chef included the “red pastaaa” and the “green pastaaa”, which obviously means his food choices are following in his dad’s footsteps.

For you proper foodies out there, the spiedini di pollo (chicken skewers wrapped in fine cured ham) were particularly delicious as were the authentic polpette di manzo (spicy beef meatballs).

Meatballs are such a simple thing but therefore easy to get wrong, these had a depth of flavour and a rich sauce.

What also stood out was that the slightly less rock and roll dishes, such as the verdure al forno (roasted Mediterranean vegetables) and the insalata caprese (mozzarella and tomato salad) had obviously been given as much attention as their more flashy counterparts. Like a hard-working second-row forward or defensive midfielder, they put in solid performances laying the groundwork for the more creative players to shine.

The only slight negative was the deep-fried calamari; a bit insipid compared to the relative high standards of the rest on offer.

I get that some may not like the idea of small dishes to share and I can’t comment on the menu’s suitability for an evening meal but if you buy into the piattini concept, I’m sure you’ll enjoy a visit here. Traditional Italian favourites done well.

I should also add the service we received was exemplary from the friendly staff. For example, I had explained when we booked that one of our party was a toddler and when we arrived there was a kid’s seat ready at the table and a colouring-in picture and crayons laid in his place.

Little touches like that make all the difference to families with young kids and it was much appreciated.