Porro has been on my radar for a while now since I heard about the launch of the Wellfield Road addition and no more since my return from Italy last week. I’ve never been one for pasta to be honest but probably because I’ve only ever really had it at home and when your mum has been known to burn it on the hob, yes a good few inches of pasta scorched and crusted on the bottom isn’t something too unfamiliar in my household. Well it sort of scars you for life.
From having nightmares of charcoal like embers of pasta clinging to sauce pans in my nightmares growing up, opting to go for an Italian when I fancy dinning out has never been at the forefront of my picklist to be fair so fresh silky smooth, buttery pasta ribbons haven’t entertained my insatiable dustbin lips all that often.
My 3 day trip to Italy changes all my perceptions of pasta. I don’t know how they could marry 2 or 3 ingredients, sandwiched between parcels of egg and flour to create such a desire to wipe devour all contents of the plate then place said empty plate to my face and lick every last drizzle of butter oil.
The porcinni mushroom, ricotta, sage and butter Ravioli at the Cantina de Spade in Venice just blew my mind. So simple yet it left myself and Mwsh speachless (well her for a whole 3 seconds, which is unheard of).
Anyway, still suffering from the holiday blues and still in Italy mode I wanted to see how one of the most popular Italian’s in Cardiff faired up against the real thing. With the weather being like it has been this week, I’ve lost all motivation to cook so a quick browse on the Wriggle App and Porro in Llandaff were offering any 2 pizza or pasta dishes for £15 a cool 50% discount last night. That will do nicely I thought and got on the buzzer to Mwsh, just to make sure she hadn’t got anything booked on and luckily she hadn’t.
I won’t bore you too much with the details. We didn’t book and just turned up as it was a Wednesday and not as busy as I assume the weekend would be. We managed to park outside as there is space for disabled cars but as it was 7pm it was quite dead so was naughty and parked up. There’s some parking around the corner by the Cathedral though if you’re visitng on the weekend.
We arrived and were a bit suprised how quite it was, just two dinners in there at the time but that was a bit of a relief as we just fancied a bit of down time and a relaxed meal without shouting at each other to hear over a jam packed restaurant. This also meant we had pick of a table and not some crooked and wonky child table next to the coat hangers you sometimes get in places when they are pushed for tables.
I liked the decor, a more modern approach to that we had become accustomed to in Italy last week with the small traditional Taverna’s who probably hadn’t had a lick of paint since the war. Good lighting, spacious with nice brickwork and large front window view if you fancy having a nose out onto the high street if it’s busy.
As we had bought a deal on Wriggle our mains were a bit limited but to compare what we had consumed in Venice and Rome we had to do one of each so opted for one pizza, the speck, artchoke, mozzarella, rocket and chilli then one pasta dish with pappardelle with braised ox cheek, tomato and parmesan.
It would be hard to beat the mixed platter of Pizza from Pizza Zizza opposite St Peter’s Basillica in the Vatican, Rome. Well we did have about 8 different flavours but they were such magnificent pieces of cheesy goodness. The pizza at Porro was good but it was nothing special in all honesty. I think the rocket overpowered everything else as there was so much, wasn’t too spicy but just didn’t fill me with much love as something laden in cheese should do. I can’t knock the ingredients as they were all no doubt of the highest quality I just wasn’t bowled over by the pizza.
The braised ox cheek pappardelle on the other hand was simply divine. Silky ribbons of fresh pasta, clinging on for dear life were chunks of tender and rich ox cheek waiting to be slurped up into my eager mouth. I’ll be honest, I was gutted we said we’d do a sharsies and halve half each of both courses because I just wanted to demolish every last morsel myself.
The unlikely star of the show on the mains though was the bowl of chunky chips, lathered in elegantly perfumed white truffle oil. I’d had posh fries with truffle oil and parmesan a few times, tried it myself once too but these were something else. I’d probably had a cheap black truffle chemical shit storm in the past but this was so light with delicate truffly aroma. The best £3.75 i’ve ever spent.
Being against my religion to just order one course each when dinning out we opted to go for a starter each and pay the difference with them all ranging between £7 and £8 we chose the tortellini with garlic, sage and parmesan as it sounded similar to the raviolli dish in Venice and the braised leeks, talleggio on sourdough.
Again we decided to do halfsies on both plates so we only really had a little bit of each one but no complaints on either course. The tortellini was quite small for the price, not sure I was still in European prices were we got a whole plate of quality pasta for 11 euros but £7 for 2 tortellini pieces cut in half was a bit mean but the flavour was on par with our Venice raviolli. Sage, pasta and oil/butter is such a good compbo although the porcini and ricotta pairing added extra creaminess and umami kick.
The braised leek and tolleggio was decent in portion size, you definetely got your leeks worth with this one although a bit less generous with the talleggio cheese. Luckily for me I had a little nugget of the stuff on my half but Mwsh had to try and stab a goey morsel from my plate before I’d consumed it as she didn’t get much on her bit of bread.
We both had a glass of the Sauv Blanc, which was a perfect match for the starters. we even enquired about the bottle and took a snap to try and find it for the house. At £7.50 for a large, it’s not the lightest on your wallet but then it was a corker. We didn’t go for the house wine though so there were more reasonably priced wines to choose from.
We would of both gone for a dessert had we not gorged on cake from Pettigrew straight after work so can’t comment on them unfortunately.
I’ve not heard a bad word said about Porro from anyone and did enjoy our meal there. It was an off the cuff thing and as we had a deal from Wriggle we were stuck with the pasta and pizza option althought the braised ox cheek papadelle would be on my hit list again.
Next time around I wouldn’t mind sampling the grill or meat menu, once I’ve fell off my pasta and carb fest I’m currently stuck in. I’d have no qualms in recommending the place although I’d opt for a pasta dish as they didnt’ dissapoint or try a meat dish. The pizza was ok but just that. Had I not sampled some of the best pizza in my 31 years of existance in Rome last week it might of been a different story but the bar has been set high from there.
The bill came to £31 for the two starters, two wines and truffle fries plus the £15 Wriggle deal for the mains so £46. The real price would of been £61 had we not used the wriggle deal.
Although they aren’t on every night I have seen Porro discount crop up a couple of times of the past few weeks on Wriggle so keep an eye out on the App / website and rememebr to use the code AUHPSS in refer a friend, redeem code on the app to get a further discount off your first order.