LBN’s Tony McDonough comes in from the cold to enjoy a warm welcome and a generous offering of delicious Italian food at the Gino D’Campo restaurant in Liverpool
Last time I walked through the door of what is now the entrance to the Gino D’Campo restaurant in Liverpool it was to buy a Twix and a bag of crisps.
Things have gone significantly upmarket since the premises, on the corner of Castle Street and Dale Street, were home to a Spar convenience store, as have the prices – although, to be fair, the quality of grub on offer is also somewhat improved.
Gino’s, as it is now affectionately known locally, was opened by renowned celebrity chef Gennaro ‘Gino’ Sheffield D’Acampo, who became a household name thanks to his regular appearance on ITV’s This Morning.
Born in Naples, he arrived in London aged just 19 to work in the Orchard Restaurant, in Hampstead, London and the Cambio Restaurant in Guildford in Surrey.
His Liverpool outlet began trading in 2017 in a part of the city centre already bustling with restaurants for all budgets. The market for casual dining has experienced a downturn in recent times and now, Castle Street, once Liverpool’s financial epicentre is home to a ever-growing number of great quality bars and restaurants.
A business favourite
Gino’s fare is arguably aimed at those who are prepared to spend a little more on their lunch or dinner – as long as the quality is right.
That said, a stroll past Gino’s most lunchtimes indicates its offering has proved a hit with diners, particularly those from Liverpool’s nearby central business district.
The soaring temperatures of summer have quickly given way and, as we approach Christmas, the last few weeks have seen Liverpool turn distinctly parky. On such days, appetites favour hearty and filling meals and Gino’s has amended its menu accordingly with a number of dishes with autumn and winter in mind.
Feast of carbs
We arrived early afternoon, fairly famished and began with an impressive selection of “proper” Italian bread, including focaccia with tomatoes, olives and capers, ciabatta, grissini with fennel and sea salt served with a creamy pesto dip.
With such a carb-heavy intro it was clear this was going to be no light lunch and so we decided to share a starter, carpaccio of beef with horseradish and pecorino cream sauce – a dish, we are told, is served every Sunday morning in many Italian homes. I wouldn’t say no to that any morning – it was melt-in-the-mouth and delicious.
Carbs returned with a vengeance for our main courses – veal meatballs with parmesan cheese and pine nuts in tomato sauce with baked ciabatta and a beef and wild mushroom stew with red wine, pancetta and garlic baked ciabatta.
I do love a meatball. Normally I would expect pasta to go with them but, with the carb-o-meter already at dangerous levels the ciabatta was the perfect accompaniment. The tomato sauce was rich and tangy and the meatballs perfectly cooked and succulent.
Given the downward trajectory of the thermometer outside the stew, made with Aberdeen Angus beef, aged for 28 days before being cooked in red wine for 12 hours, was warm, hearty and bursting with rich, sumptuous flavours. An ideal warmer-upper for a cold November afternoon, and the team recommended the perfect glass of red to enjoy alongside it.
We shared a side of roast crushed potatoes, lightly crushed & roasted with garlic, sage and fresh rosemary – and wonderfully moreish.
The warmth of the welcome as you walk into Gino’s is the perfect antidote to the cold outside and the standard of service never drops. Our waiter was chatty, prompt and attentive throughout, and gave excellent, thought-out recommendations.
A lunchtime trip to Gino’s can bring light and flavour to the darkest and bleakest of winter days. Offering ambience, good quality food and excellent service, Gino’s is a safe bet for any occasion and we’ll certainly be heading back.
Gino’s have unveiled their festive menu’s for 2018 and we have to say they look decidedly delicious. Bookings are being taken now and you can find more information by clicking here.