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Il Fiume Italian Restaurant in Bradford on Avon is tucked awag in a hidden corner of the unassuming Bridge Yard, which also hosts The Weaving Shed and Olea Mediterranean. Il Fiume is definitely not a showy place, and the whole vibe and feel of the place is more ‘family kitchen’ rather than posh restaurant. We arrived really early and although it was open, it was very quiet.
Perhaps because it was so early in the evening, we were asked if we wanted to eat or whether we were just there for a coffee. We said, both and were shown to a table further inside from which we had a clear view across the river to the other side. The views from inside the restaurant are very pretty. Built right along the river as it runs through Bradford on Avon, you feel as if you are hovering right above it.
The menu had a nice range of starters, mains consisting of pizza, pasta and risotto. There were also fish and meat options ranging from pork belly and lamb shank to chicken, salmon and even seabass.
As it was so quiet, the service was quick and polite, although there was a certain reluctance and reticence that came across. When we asked the waiter if he’d ever eaten there, his reply was a very quick, ’No… but a lot of people have and they say it’s very good.’
This was a bit sad, as I had always imagined that it was important for a restaurant’s staff to know exactly what it is that they are serving, especially so that they could determine their own personal favourites, and potentially talk about and recommend them.
Food and Drink
Although it was really too early for dinner, the menu options and descriptions were very enticing and in the end, we ordered Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Pizza Florentina and a side of Arancini.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara – Spaghetti with bacon in a pepper and parmesan cream sauce
Spaghetti carbonara is a classic and at Il Fiume it was served as a large generous portion. The spaghetti was perfectly cooked to an al-dente bite and the spooned over grate parmesan was generous. Overall it was a tasty option with generous servings of bacon.
The slight disappointment here was that the eggs in the sauce were slightly overcooked which meant that the texture was grainy. Thankfully this did not detract too much from its rich creamy taste.
Arancini – Risotto balls filled with crispy pancetta, mozzarella and basil covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried.
While Arancini is listed as a starter, the size and generosity of this portion easily makes it a healthy main. Arancini consists of risotto balls filled with pancetta mozzarella and basil rolled in to a ball then covered generously with breadcrumbs and then deep fried. The result is a very interesting collision of textures with the outer covering crisp and crunchy hiding an internal melting pot of almost goo.
Served in a pool of classic tomato sauce the sharpness of the sauce worked really well to temper the richness of the mozzarella creaminess. While not exactly pretty nor beautiful, presentation could have been improved with a smattering of herbs or even a basil sprig or two, this did not take away the tastiness of the arancini.
Pizza Florentina – Mozarella, ham and mushroom
Although Pizza Florentina might be an entirely original creation at Il Fiume, it was a delectable choice. This is not to be mistaken with Pizza Fiorentina with sunny side up egg(s) and spinach. Pizzas as everyone knows is difficult to get wrong, yet there are millions of google search results dedicated to the perfect pizza – simply put, it’s easy to make pizza, but to make great pizza does take something special.
We were impressed with Il Fiume’s Pizza Florentina. The toppings were simple, mozzarella, ham and mushrooms are fairly common ingredients and easy to get hold of, yet what set this pizza apart was the coming together of all the other ingredients, essentially – the base, the tomato sauce.
The pizza base was perfectly baked with the essential crisp, very slightly charred edges. This combined with the right thickness and a perfect bite made it a real treat. This combined with a fresh slightly tangy tomato sauce which complemented the ingredients perfectly.
The majority of choices on the dessert board were more British than Italian which made the choice of Tiramisu an easy one. Served with an option of either cream or ice cream, the Tiramisu at Il Fiume consists of coffee-enriched, liquer-laced savoiardi fingers layered with a light, creamy mix of mascarpone and cream. Light vanilla ice-cream surprisingly paired well with the slice of tiramisu. It was a nice way to end the meal.
Verdict: Would we go back?
Il Fiume was a pleasant surprise. We have known of it for several years although had never ventured to try it. We were pleased with the overall experience and the food was good enough for us to want to go back again. So yes, in short, it warrants a return visit. It is very much a down-to-earth, value for money authentic Italian restaurant, so if you’re looking for ‘an experience of dining’ or some more special options, this might not be the place.
But if you’re looking for a relaxed place to have dinner with your family, we can definitely recommend it.
Il Fiume Ristorante Italiano
2 Bridge Yard, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1EJ