Jamie Oliver claims to enjoy cooking with Italian ingredients, so has opened a chain of Italian restaurants, which dish out Italian style food that is reasonably priced, but basic. He has tried to concentrate on authenticity and a simple dining experience. He has restaurants in London, Cardiff, Oxford, Bath and Brighton.
Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurants are opening around Britain, as he exploits the last of his limelight fame to leverage his businesses. His Cardiff restaurant experience is located in the city centre of Cardiff in the new shopping centre, Saint David. The ambience of the restaurant is perfect, and the decor is up to a fairly well designed standard. It is contemporary, but traditional; it feels a little like Italy. What catches the attention of the people outside is the pasta machine, which is behind the glass. It is possible to see the machine making pasta and people wine tasting. In the middle of the restaurant, a bar is decorated with platters of circular ham. The platters are prepared as small appetizers, displaying the meats on offer.
The dishes are pretty varied. There is antipasti, pasta, meat, fish and desserts. Everything is pretty much based on Italian cuisine (except perhaps the desserts). The prices are truly affordable, but the profit for the restaurant is based on small antipasti and vegetables. These are limited within the main dishes and when compared with the main courses, are frightfully expensive. The Italian wines are particularly pleasant, and the house wine comes from an organic farm.
The food is superb visually, but the flavours are not up to par. The pastas are delicious and their sauces are tasty; however, the expensive antipasti is not terribly convincing. The food prices are not bad, especially when compared with the prices of other celebrity owned restaurants. A lot of people complain about the food being too salty and being a rather watered down Italian cuisine; however, most people agree that the atmosphere, the service and surroundings are all pretty good.
All in all, you should give it a go, but do not be fooled by the Jamie Oliver brand name. It is not as good as a restaurant that has earned a Michelin star or two.