Benoli. Restaurant Review
Norwich is lucky to boast Benoli an independently owned Italian restaurant offering beautiful authentic modern Italian dishes with the most delicious hand-made pasta and carefully sourced ingredients.
Benoli is owned by Chef-Patron Oliver Boon, a former ‘Masterchef Professionals’ finalist- and the restaurant is run with pride and enthusiasm which is obvious as soon as you step through the door with its friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.
I have been to Benoli twice, and I honestly think it could be one of my favourite places to eat in Norwich. What’s not to love? The restaurant has a lively atmosphere, the service is friendly, the wine list is extensive, and they have a regularly changing menu of amazing authentic Italian food– AND a vegan specific menu… basically, my idea of a perfect night out.
The menu can take a bit of deciphering as they offer many different pastas and ingredients, but the waiting staff are always happy to talk you through anything you’re not sure of, and it truly adds to the experience.
When we arrived, we sat downstairs to look at the menus whilst our table was being cleaned, after a few minutes we were shown upstairs to the busy dining room. All the tables were really spaced out and even though every table was full of happy diners, we felt totally comfortable as there was a lot of space between everyone. The atmosphere was lively and fun and reminded me how much I love eating out and how much I have missed it over the lockdown months.
We ordered some Nocellara and Cerignola Olives with Pagnotta Bread, Olive Oil and Saba to nibble on while we looked at the menu. Saba is a unique and totally natural dressing made only from cooked grape must. It looks just like balsamic, and tastes a whole lot like it too, it’s been used for over 5000 years in the Mediterranean region and was gorgeous!
To start we both had Bruschetta. I had the Beetroot Bruschetta with Pickled Red Onion and Autumn Truffle. It was so sweet but seasoned perfectly, the truffle was decadent and moreish. Husband’s choice was even better Coco Bean Bruschetta, Truffle and Hazelnut Pesto. The Coco Beans were amazing, one of the meal highlights! Coco Nano is a white, oval-shaped heirloom bean grows in hilly and woody areas of Tuscany. When cooked, these little skinless pearls, have a nutty, slightly sweet, buttery flavour. We loved them!
Our mains continued to impress; we both chose pasta dishes. The pasta is served al dente which is exactly as we like it (and really the only way to serve such beautiful freshly made pasta!). I had Bucatini, Artichoke, Girolles and Sage. Bucatini is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre. It was a perfectly portioned, balanced and seasoned bowl of pasta. Husband chose a spicy pasta – Pacherri, a large tubed pasta with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley and Olive Oil. Both meals were so impressive, and we enjoyed trying each other’s (with no food envy when the food is this good!).
We decided to share a dessert to finish the meal on a sweet note. Quince and Fig Salad with Walnut and Vegan Ice Cream. The ice cream was so creamy- I could have easily eaten a whole bowl full, but the dessert was delicate and packed a flavour punch. A perfect way to finish the meal.
We had such a wonderful time at Benoli – I really couldn’t recommend it enough. A really authentic Italian dining experience, you will certainly try something new and delicious. I have always loved going out for dinner, but after lockdown and certainly in these socially distanced times, it feels even more special when you do decide to go out and Benoli offers it all. Wonderful food, great service and all in a safe environment that really captures the fun and excitement of dining out. Be part of something special and book a table, you won’t be disappointed!