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Review: How a Preston waterfront Italian restaurant defied expectations

Posted on - 18th June, 2019 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, Reviews, Riversway, What's On in Preston
Baffito's diavalo pizza has lots of topping
Baffito’s diavalo pizza has lots of topping

This week my daughter and I had a meal at Baffito’s on Navigation Way in Ashton, as part of a series of best and worst rated Preston restaurants on TripAdvisor.

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The reviews are very mixed, with comments about slow service and a cold restaurant contributing to Baffito’s place nearer the middle to bottom of TripAdvisor’s recommended places to eat. The food fares better, being described as, “amazing and homemade.”

Due to the reviews we were apprehensive about our evening visit. More so when we entered the car park and saw the dreaded Parking Eye signs; guaranteed to make any underwhelming restaurant experience just that little bit grimmer.

We walked to the bar and told the young waiter that we had a reservation. I also asked where to input my car registration number as instructed by Parking Eye, and was told to write it on a piece of paper and it would be entered into the system by the staff. I complied, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving it to the staff as I’d get a hefty fine if they forgot.

It was 8.30 in the evening so we didn’t expect it to be too busy, but when we were taken to our table we realised that we were the only customers. It was a pity because the restaurant felt a little cold and lacklustre despite the colourful chairs and the pop music which was playing.

We ordered drinks which arrived promptly and were given two paper menus. Both of the starters we chose were priced at only £5 each, so we weren’t expecting too much.

After a short while our first course arrived, and I was surprised to see how well presented they were. Beth’s choice of a perfectly cooked poached egg on crushed garlic potatoes with a generous portion of Parma ham was plated beautifully, and the flavours complemented each well.

Poached egg on crushed garlic potatoes with Parma ham
Poached egg on crushed garlic potatoes with Parma ham

There wasn’t too much scope to doll up my chicken livers in chilli and Marsala wine, but the chef had given it the good old college try by adding some pea shoots and dots of balsamic reduction. They were a little dry but definitely on the right side of a potential campylobacter incident. The sauce was balanced with a hint of wine, although I couldn’t taste any chilli. Nevertheless, both starters were delicious.

The plates were cleared quickly and our main courses arrived within about ten minutes. The large, crisp diavolo pizza at £10 was covered in a rich, garlicky sauce and there was no skimping on the cheese. Thankfully the generous amount of chorizo, pepperoni, chilli and red onion topping was evenly spread. It saved my daughter from the stress of watching me furiously re-distributing it over the space of twenty minutes, quietly seething because it’s gone cold and everything is ruined.

Tragically my short-lived inner peace was shattered by the arrival of a £9 spaghetti carbonara containing a shocking addition.There was no mention on the menu that a familiar comfort food would be tainted by the foul and boingy creature that is the mushroom, but nevertheless there it was in abundance. Noticing my horror from across the restaurant the chef immediately offered to make another one without mushrooms, but though tempted I graciously declined as my daughter likes mushrooms, loved the carbonara, my pizza was going cold and why am I getting involved in other people’s food again?  

The carbonara was also served with a raw egg yoke sitting on top of it, which is cooked when mixed into the hot spaghetti. It isn’t for everyone but made us feel all fancy and continental.

Note the raw egg atop the carbonara
Note the raw egg atop the carbonara

As it was getting late we asked if we could have the pizza and spaghetti packed to take away, and we also ordered two desserts to take home. There was a small wait until the friendly and attentive waiter brought our food, including the desserts; homemade tiramisu and cherry and chocolate bread and butter pudding with custard, both costing under five pounds.

Chatting to the manager as I paid, I found out that contrary to what I had assumed; the restaurant was a family business and not a chain. I asked why she thought some TripAdvisor reviews were quite poor and she replied that they’d had some trouble with staff, but now had different ones. The service I received was excellent, though I don’t know how they’d fare on busier nights.

The next day my mother Yvonne let herself into my house and I went downstairs to tell her how unexpectedly fantastic the food had been at Baffito’s. Needlessly, as it turned out, as she had already been trawling through my fridge with her invasive spoon, defiling my puddings and fondling my pizza whilst I was asleep. I still ate what was left; the bread and butter pudding was excellent and the tiramisu was outstanding.

Due to some negative reviews on TripAdvisor I went to Baffito’s with the expectation that it would be poor, and I was wrong. There are things that could be improved; it looks a bit dated in the restaurant and the menus are printed on paper that’s a little tatty. It’s a bit too pubby to be a restaurant and a bit too restauranty to be a pub. However, the service came with a smile, and the generous food was clearly homemade with care without cutting corners or compromising on portions or ingredients.

The pizza I had was worth the £10 price tag, but on Tuesdays there is a 2-4-1 offer on pizzas. Based on my experience I would recommend trying Baffito’s again, even if you’ve had a disappointing experience previously. The more people who support this local business which is competing with some massive restaurant chains, the better the atmosphere and upkeep will be. I’ll definitely be returning.

Have you tried Baffito’s recently? Tell us your experience in the comments

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