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Nov 30 - Nunos @ The Express - Restaurant Review

By Gastrorob

Whenever I am asked for what, in my opinion, is the best restaurant on the Rock, I unhesitatingly always declare Nunos.

Nunos is the 2 Rosette Award winning Italian restaurant situated in the Caleta Hotel. They offer an exquisite range of pasta, meat and fish dishes in an intimate setting but cater for groups just as well.

On a sunny day, or better still, a balmy summer evening, the terrace just elevates the experience. The vistas of the beach and the sounds of the sea are simply beautiful and bring the food to life; almost as if the octopus from the sumptuous Smoked Octopus antipasti was caught in the craggy rocks of Catalan Bay.

And let’s not forget the amazing chocolate sphere; theatre and poetry in chocolate form.

But what I dislike about the Nunos at the Caleta experience is its ‘service under a bell’ that follows. The strained, almost feigned level of service can at times be excessive and at others seem poorly rehearsed - waiters staring at each other (dans les yeux) nodding to the count of three and then uncovering the silver cloche; “Ooohhhhh! Ahhhhhh! My ravioli (ricotta & spinach with butter and sage sauce) has arrived!” Clap, clap, clap.

The food and service at Nunos is excellent; this should not be underestimated in any way. However, strip away the stuffiness of the silver service and the clumsy removal of cloches, and you are left with Nunos @ The Express.

Nunos @ The Express is situated on the ground floor of Holiday Inn Express on Devil’s Tower Road. As you walk through the door, there is a deli counter set up selling Italian staples: cured meats, cheese, oil, amongst other things. This was very reminiscent of walking into Italian restaurants such as Carluccio’s in the UK, setting the scene for the food experience to follow.

Styled in slate grey with what seem to be polished concrete floors and grey or red cafeteria style dining chairs and sofas. Lampshades in black or red or white, hang over rows of tables for two with wooden tabletops, adorned with crystal clear glassware and red or charcoal grey water glasses.

In the heart of the room sits Nunos’ bar and pizza ovens, surrounded by single-seating places. Seats like this are ideal for those who are on business or travel alone. Areas like this are very important as they don’t ostracise those people who sit alone wanting to have a meal in a restaurant but don’t want to be sat in the middle of a restaurant with everyone gawking at their loneliness!

The pristine-white kitchen behind its glass wall provides a clean and bright focus for diners. I always like to be able to see into a kitchen - you can judge a restaurant’s cleanliness and professionalism; it shows a great sense of trust in its work and service.

The menu is a modern Express version of the Nunos at the Caleta menu. Full of delicious Italian staples such as pasta, pizza and cuts of meat cooked alla Italiana such as, Ossobucco and Tagliata - both of which sound mouthwateringly divine!

As a weekday dinner menu, the Saltimbocca Alla Romana, literally jumped at me from the menu: slices of veal, sage and Parma ham in a white wine sauce - slightly salty, slightly woodsy, served with a rocket and cherry tomato salad; entirely sumptuous; I planned the rest of my menu around this dish. We shared the Melanzana Parmiggiana as an antipasto to accompany the bread basket which included pieces of focaccia. I would have perhaps liked to have seen some artisanal breads served here such as ciabatta or grissini to mop up the sauce at the bottom of the dish.

We both selected the Orange Chocolate Mousse with crushed amaretto biscuits, which sounded decadent and was beautifully served in long stem dessert glasses but unfortunately needed some work on the presentation. The decorative orange slice sitting on top was cut too thickly, perhaps hiding the lack of crushed amaretto biscuits. This would have been best served with actual amaretto biscuits on the side of the dish to scoop up the silky, lavish mousse.

I generally benchmark an Italian restaurant by the standard of their tiramisu but Nunos @ The Express serve a Tiramisu alla Fragola (strawberry tiramisu) which doesn’t appeal to me as I much prefer the coffee kind - to ‘pick me up’ from the end of the meal slump.

The food at Nunos @ the Express, is delicious and very good value for money. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of dishes on the menu - more so than at Nunos at the Caleta. The setting was modern, fresh and exciting. The waiters wore traditional shirts, braces and aprons; their uniforms reflecting the colour scheme of the place.

If you still haven’t booked your Christmas Party meal, I recommend you book there. The food will be great and the service on point. Apparently there are some great cocktails to be had as well. Negronis anyone?

I can’t wait to return and try the saute di vongole, ravioli, ossobuco should my stomach stretch that far!) and chocolate fondu - sounds good, right?

For more reviews, recipes and food-related musings, visit/follow: Web: gastrorob.com 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gastrorob 

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gastrorob  or @Gastrorob

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