The Olive Press Italian restaurant in Preston, with a kitchen headed by Paul Heathcote MBE, can be found in the centre of the city across from Winckley Square.
Preston is spoilt when it comes to Italian restaurant culture. From Tiggis, Angleos, Salvatore’s, Totto’s, Slice of Sicily to the more recent Stratos. However, the Olive Press still holds its own.
Downstairs from Heathcotes Brasserie the restaurant features a nice cosy bar setting plus a great relaxing atmosphere in the dining area with rustic ‘butchers block’-style wooden tables and exposed brickwork with chalk boards displaying daily specials scattered throughout.
I made my way there with a small party on a quiet Monday night. Amongst the fascinating treats we found on offer. Thin crust wood-fired stone-baked pizzas made with, I am told, a secret dough recipe from Tuscan monks.
I tried the crispy duck pizza with sweetcorn, mozzarella, spring onion and hoi sin sauce. Deliciously different and well flavoured. The very first time I had cucumber on a pizza – it tries to replicate crispy duck pancakes and does it very well. Fantastic.
Other party goers selected pan-fried sea bream which was devoured, veggie pizza and mushroom risotto. The pappardelle with slow cooked duck was chosen and enjoyed by one of us. A good dish and a good portion, so much so that the diner struggled to finish.
Entertainment was provided on the night. A crooner with guitar and occasional saxophone plus a selection of festive seasonal songs. I was well impressed with his take on Fairytale of New York belting out both MacGowen and MacColls’s parts of the classic Christmas tune. He even did requests (but I draw the line at Elvis. I mean. Come on guys). Shame it was a little to loud. We wanted to chat but the guys sound system was a tad too enthusiastic.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the food and the night. They found the place friendly, vibrant and said they would love to return whenever they could (possibly when we next arrange a meet-up). Thumbs up all round.
I noticed from the Olive Press Christmas menu amongst other festive dishes, Christmas turkey pizza! I may be coming back just to try that. Great place for your Xmas party if not yet sorted.
Chef and owner of the Olive Press Paul Heathcote at the Square Food Festival in Preston