Sat on Llandaff’s High Street, Porro comes trailing clouds of glory thanks to its big sister in the city centre, The Potted Pig. Straight off the bat, they proclaim their love of local food served with a love of Italy; they serve ‘Italian-ish’ food, rather than devote themselves to the slavishly myopic quest for the potentially dreary “authenticity” which can bedevil so many menus. Their name means ‘leek’ after all, and you can’t get more regionally inspired than that.
The menu is slim- one side of A4- but with plenty to interest. We go for a couple of beers- a locally brewed Pipes Helles lager and an Italian Inchnusa- while we decide.
A superb focaccia, baked that morning and still warm, is a cracking start, with a peppery olive oil and a thick balsamic syrup for dipping. It’s ridiculously moreish.
Pâté of speck and a quenelle (oooh, get me) of whipped lardo come with toasted sourdough, also baked here. It’s a rich start: lardo might not be to everyone’s taste but when combined with the coarser meaty pâté in equal measures it really comes into its own.
A minor grumble: both dishes could do with more of their breads, though then they might be too filling to serve as mere nibbles. but It’s a shame to waste the loveliness of that oil and balsamic mixture, so we keep it and order fries to soak it up.
A platter of Italian charcuterie is nicely done, and dressed with pickled walnuts and caper berries. Slices of home-cured pork belly, cured Italian pigs cheek, fennel salami and wild boar speck are polished off without delay.
A fritto misto is a lovely thing when done well. It’s also remarkably easy to balls it up: less is always more, and it needs a light hand. Cod cheeks are an unusual but welcome addition.This array comes in a so-light-it’s-barely-there batter, comes with a generously garlicky aioli.
An extra tick for providing a slice of lemon with its bothersome pips removed. It’s the little things, sometimes…
The fries are superb. Twice-cooked, they are dusted liberally with rosemary and salt and have plenty of fragile nut-brown scraps to pick out.
They more than repay the decision to use them to mop up the last of that balsamic and oil. It’s a great combination; right here and now, it’s hard to imagine anything more moreish, from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads.
We go for a pappardelle; some dishes are available in two sizes, which needs to become far more widely adopted as it lets the gourmand in all of us (well, me, anyway) sample more of the menu in one visit . It’s very good- you’d fear for an Italian-influenced restaurant that couldn’t cook pasta properly- with a full-bodied tomato sauce heavy on fennel sausage.
Main of pork belly comes with much of the fat rendered out and some very toothsome fennel-flecked crackling atop meltingly tender flesh. A touch more seasoning wouldn’t have hurt the apple and fennel mash- a little underpowered, this- but other accompaniments are very well done; a salad of orange and fennel is absolutely spot on and just the thing to compliment the aniseed hints of the crackling, and to cut through the luscious fattiness of the belly.
Pizza is large and clearly the product of a proper oven. Toppings are generous and packed with flavour- sausage, ham and mozzarella all sit under a healthy scattering of rocket leaves, and there’s a subtle tingle of chilli. My only reservation was a slightly soggy base toward the centre: a slice of pizza should be able to maintain its shape when held without any untimely or unsightly drooping.
Where’s Pele when you need him..?
Service is excellent. An issue with one of our plates is dealt with courteously and unfussily. As ever, it’s not about whether a place is perfect; it’s how they deal with any of the many things which can go wrong during service.
An excellent location- Llandaff is sadly short of dining options for such an affluent area- a good menu and personable service: Porro is well worth visiting for a leisurely lunch. It’s the kind of neighbourhood restaurant that every neighbourhood should get: and with another branch soon to open in Roath- close to the redoubtable Il Pastificio, no less-the options on that side of the city will go from strength to strength.
22 High St
029 20 56 5502
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.