Caravelli, Loughborough

Caravelli (locally known incorrectly by many, including me, as Caravelli’s) is a family run restaurant (the Ambricos not the Caravellis!) with a good atmosphere and great Italian food and wine. Opened in March 2010 its reputation grew and it quickly established itself as one of the best restaurants in Loughborough.

Due to its popularity you need to be book ahead to avoid disappointment. Midweek bookings are easier to get than the weekends – for instance we tried to get in on an last minute whim yesterday (Saturday) and they didn’t have a table for two until 9:30pm. So midweek it was.

Caravelli has wide ranging menus covering everything from pasta dishes to seafood and meat prepared and presented in authentic traditional Italian style, and an ever-changing specials board. And yes they do tiramisu!

Due to the boisterous nature of the evening out, I didn’t take any notes and so I’ll let the photos guide me.

Gamberoni all’Aglio – two (not the magic number of) king prawns sauteed in garlic, herbs, tomato and finished with a splash of wine. Messy as fuck especially if you drop one into the sauce.
One of the specials – pancetta wrapped brie, grilled and served on a bed of rocket with a fresh pesto dressing
Another special starter – big juicy scallops expertly cooked in a creamy white wine sauce
Crostini molisana – chicken livers sauteed in onions, wine, rosemary, french mustard and a touch of tomato served on toasted bread
The starters went down well with Peroni beer and then we ordered some wine. The red was a very nice chianti and the white a fruity pinot grigio. There was some debate over ordering the second bottle on the wine list which apparently is a bit of a corker but traditionally would be the most marked up. Although should you begrudge the restauranteur their mark up if the wine is fine? The debate will know doubt continue…
Pappardelle con salsiccia – my personal favourite if the swordfish isn’t on the specials board – large ribbon pasta, sausage meat, fennel seeds, chilli, tomato and cream. If you don’t like fennel then it’s a no-no and don’t be scared of the chilli – it’s not mad hot.
Linguine ai frutti di mare – linguine pasta with mixed seafood cooked in a tomato, garlic and white wine sauce. Reminded my fellow diner of his recent holiday beside Lake Garda in Italy. Glowing praise indeed.
Filetto Casanova – a cute name for a beef fillet steak in a sauce of pink peppercorns, french mustard, cream and a dash of brandy. Two of my fellow diners opted for this – requesting different cooking (e.g. medium rare) – both came out identical, but there were no great complaints. The dish comes with a side dish of vegetables – carrots, swede, potatoes etc. and there’s always the option of having chips too.
Of course when it came to dessert there was only one choice for me and if it hadn’t been available there may have been a table-flip. Caravelli’s tiramisu is a simple thing but great when freshly made and is in my Top 5.
Homemade lemon cheesecake – there’s a good lemon flavour but that evening the base wasn’t biscuity enough and looks a bit thin
Profiteroles were a popular choice!
Oh yeah I must take a photo oops! Nice moist coffee flavoured sponge combined with creamy topping. The powder is a nightmare if you inhale anywhere near it – breathtaking in perhaps the wrong way…

To my mind Caravelli operate in an entirely different space to most of the restaurants in Loughborough and certainly the likes of Bella Italia – there is simply no comparison – the food is a knockout and consistently good. The staff are very friendly and if the manager is in and you’re in no rush you’ll usually get treated to a small glass of limoncello or amaretto for the road. Didn’t happen on this occasion but that’s because he wasn’t there 🙂