Mambo Italiano at Marzano

With the exception of a gluten, dairy free pizza at Zizzi, I’ve always hated chain Italian restaurants. I’ve paid £15 before for a bowl of pomodoro with no seasoning or flavour in general. Many people are a dab hand at cooking pasta dishes at home, and so the thought of paying over the odds for it at a restaurant disappoints me massively. Although I admit they have probably got a lot better at catering for a gluten and dairy free diet in even the past five years, my negative experiences have meant that I always walk right on by when I see a Bella Italia or Prezzo.

On a recent trip to York, I discovered that the city is literally a haven for foodies. In fact, during the whole five days of being in the historic hub, every restaurant that me and my fella ate at was one that we’d walked past and decided looked good. I even took a picture of each one to ensure that we remembered to check out the menu online. We stumbled across Marzano late one evening when taking a stroll through Fossgate looking for somewhere to enjoy a tipple. With a sign outside that said they could cater for gluten and free diners, we booked a table for the next evening.

We were met with a cosy decor inspired by the sights and sounds of Italia as we entered the restaurant. After ordering a bowl of olives and a nice bottle of Merlot for the table, I got to work quizzing the waitress on the menu choices, to which I was delighted that they could whip me up a traditional Bruschetta for starter and more incredibly, a Linguine Fruit Di Mare for main – for some reason, adding seafood to gluten/dairy free dishes at chain Italians has always proved much harder than pulling teeth from a lion.

The Bruschetta featured a nice mix of marinated and oven roasted tomatoes, basil and fresh rocket, alongside olive oil and salad. The tomatoes were incredibly juicy, flavoursome and the perfect accompaniment to the wine. Simplicity is key here and the whole taste sensation served to remind me of how much I absolutely love tommies!

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Next came the Linguine. On first look, I was a little disappointed that I was served pasta spirals instead of spaghetti, as quite frankly, not only do I enjoy twizzling my spaghetti around my spoon and fork, but also, a Linguine in my opinion should be served with long strands of pasta. Hesitation aside though, I tucked in to probably the best pasta dish I’ve had at a restaurant.

I’m a huge fan of seafood and so the combination of king prawns, clams, mussels and squid, thrown into a pomodoro sauce with white wine and chilli went down very well with me and my belly. The portion sizes were good and for the first time in many years, the thought of eating out once more at Italian restaurants was starting to seep back into my mind.

Although the restaurant was busy on a Friday evening, the waiters didn’t rush us out at full speed – a nice touch as we got to enjoy the meal at a pace we liked in true Mediterranean style.

All in all, would I go back to Marzano? 100% yes! My advice to them would be to stock gluten free spaghetti for such dishes as Linguine and Bolognese, but on the whole, Marzano has restored my faith in Italian restaurants – a feat that is quite incredible for any premises outside of good old Italia.

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