Culinary review of the Italian restaurant Donatello on Orford alley

FOR many years, if you want a taste of Italy without leaving the Warrington border, a place comes to mind.

Donatello on Orford Lane is a favorite among the city’s pizza and pasta lovers, with patrons returning frequently, knowing they’ll be well fed.

We visited recently for a midweek meal and a few drinks – and we were certainly not disappointed.

The drinks menu has a good selection of wines and beers, with a selection of gins also available if that is your choice.

Some members of the group opted for a carafe of the house white wine and others for a bottle of Peroni – in Rome, as they say.

Donatello Italian restaurant on Orford Lane

To start, we chose a garlic bread pizza to share. Always a winner that rarely leaves you disappointed.

The great thing about Donatello is that they allow a half and half option for those with different tastes, or those like us who were spoiled for choice, they wanted both.

Now, we’re big on our Italian food, but the garlic bread starter we chose – half cheese and half spicy (tomato, chili and onion) – really hit the ball out of the park.

The bread base was springy and flavorful, while the mozzarella was stretchy and delicious, complemented nicely with a slice of picante, which didn’t offer too much of a kick, but enough to leave you satisfied and smiling.

pizza half cheese and half spicy garlic bread

pizza half cheese and half spicy garlic bread

Service was quick and the staff were very friendly and chatty, but not overly enthusiastic, allowing you to fully enjoy your food and soak up the ambiance.

It has been a few years since our last visit, the restaurant having undergone a well thought out refurbishment during this time.

Although not the same as alfresco dining sitting in a Florentine piazza on a warm Tuscan evening, the interior makes you feel like you are Italy itself and not Orford – as charming as that may be.

For the main course, as a group of pasta lovers, we opted for three different pasta dishes.

Penne all'amatriciana

Penne all’amatriciana

My choice fell on penne all’amatriciana, described on the menu as penne pasta in a tomato sauce with bacon, onions, garlic, chillies and fresh basil.

Once again, the course was flawless. The pasta was neither too tough nor soggy, absorbing the tomato based sauce well which had enough spice without blowing your mind.

A nice touch was the cherry tomatoes cooked in the dish, which was overall very nice.

One of my guests opted for penne della casa – penne pasta in a creamy white sauce with chicken, asparagus, parmesan, mushrooms and a hint of chili.

Pennes of the house

Pennes of the house

They too were happy with their choice, the asparagus offering a different but welcome change from the typical pasta dishes.

The third of us enjoyed the penne arrabiata – but not as you normally know.

It was served as chicken and mushrooms cooked in a spicy tangy tomato sauce with parmesan cheese, topped with mozzarella and rather just a fresh egg, with penne pasta added.

The egg on top was an unusual but delicious surprise, the yolk oozing after being cracked, helping the savory sauce to make the dish very satisfying.

Penne arrabiata

Penne arrabiata

Although the menu offered a good selection of desserts, the three of us were too full to try any.

However, we did see staff bringing some to a nearby table who were eagerly waiting, and the dishes looked both attractive and well-proportioned.

Comparing it to other Italian restaurants we’ve tried recently, Donatello was definitely one of the best if not the best, and the price was reasonable alongside its fellow continental restaurants.

Overall we really enjoyed our visit and will definitely be back in the future.

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