My husband and I gave ourselves a bit of a shock when we worked out it had been 20 years since we last visited Barolo – on our very first Valentine's date together.

As anticipated, the popular Italian eaterie, in Wimborne Road, Winton, has changed somewhat since the late 1990s, having doubled in size and undergone a modern transformation in recent years.

The result is a spacious, yet cosy space, with up-to-date decor featuring subtle finishing touches in keeping with its classic Italian roots.

We were seated in a comfy, rounded banquette, giving us a little privacy from other diners, facing a wall of vines, water features and a miniature, illuminated Tower of Pisa.

The restaurant has a friendly, relaxed ambience and we immediately felt at home.

Barolo's menu is extensive, to say the least, with huge lists of starters, pastas and pizzas, plus a selection of rice dishes, meat, salads and vegan options.

All the traditional starters you'd expect to see are there, including Bruschetta, garlic mushrooms and calamari, as well as some less familiar dishes such as the Melanzane Parmiggiana – aubergines topped with tomato sauce and cheese — and the Carciofi Al Forno – baked baby artichokes.

I chose the Mozzarella In Carrozza (£7.50), a mozzarella sandwich tossed in tomato sauce, while my husband opted for the Bianchetti Fritti (£7), also known as whitebait.

There's an equally vast selection of main courses, from steak, chicken or fish in various sauces to several different salads and five different ways of serving veal. That's before you even get onto the pasta and pizza.

After much deliberation, we eventually settled for the Tagliatelle Verdi (£13.50) and the Pizza Messicana (£11).

While waiting for our dishes to arrive, we enjoyed some salty breadsticks with a strong, creamy garlic dip.

We were instantly impressed by the portion sizes – my hefty slab of mozzarella was smothered in a rich tomato sauce and coated in a pleasingly crispy coating, while the whitebait, which had been fried in a light batter, filled a large plate alongside the accompanying dish of tartar sauce.

Having now gauged how big the meals were, we were pleased to be offered a ten-minute break before being served with our main courses.

In a feat of perfect synchronisation, one waiter was ready at our table with the fresh parmesan and black pepper, while another brought the steaming dishes from the kitchen.

My plentiful bowl of pasta was mixed with fresh broccoli stems and asparagus, all coated in a rich, creamy dolcelatte sauce. The tagliatelle was perfectly cooked, while the vegetables were deliciously al dente with plenty of flavour. I was disappointed to have to admit defeat before I could finish the dish.

The thin and crispy pizza was topped with tomato, mozzarella, spicy beef, jalapenos, onions and oregano. Even my husband, who has a spicy palate, admitted it was "pretty hot", but he managed to clear the plate, so I'd say he enjoyed it!

Despite feeling rather full by this stage, we couldn't leave without at least looking at the dessert menu and, true to form, were soon tempted by something sweet.

Again, there are plenty of traditional favourites on offer, including Tiramisu and Tartufo Limoncello, lemon ice cream with a soft lemon liqueur centre with crushed lemon meringue.

Wanting something light, I chose the lemon sorbet (£5.50 for two scoops) and my husband went for two scoops of the Italian ice cream (£3 a scoop), in strawberry and coconut.

The desserts were attractively presented on glass serving plates, making our rather simple choices feel a little more fancy. My sorbet was light and tangy, perfectly palate-cleansing, while the ice cream was creamy and full of flavour.

A thoroughly enjoyable meal, in comfortable, relaxed surroundings. We definitely won't leave it another 20 years!


Ristorante Barolo, Wimborne Road, Bournemouth

01202 547213