Pesto, found in the Leicestershire village of Desford, is an Italian restaurant with a tapas twist. Their plates are billed as piattini, or piattino, meaning small dish in Italian. With around forty dishes at around the £2.95-5.95 mark, the idea is to mix and match your favourites to create a shareable, Mediterranean feast. Not sure whether to choose pasta or pizza? Cannelloni or calamari? Rigatoni or risotto. No fear, you can have it all.
The interior has a bistro inspired charm, which is neither particularly traditional nor modern. The restaurant is pretty sizeable, with high ceilings brightening up the wooden tones, dark printed curtains and Italian inspired arty prints. It has a family friendly feel, which by 6pm had already started to fill with groups of ladies, younger children and couples alike. After a warm welcome and informative overview of the dishes, I ordered a glass of Pinot Blush and got my teeth into the extensive menu.
After much deliberation, bread and olives, we opted for a spread of Insalata Caprese (£3.95), Calamari fritti (£5.95), Pizzetta formaggio di capra (£3.95), Gamberoni all’ aglio e peperoncino (£4.50), Parmigiano e ricotta ravioli con pesto e pomodori secchi (£4.50) and Rigatoni al forno alla Calabrese (£4.50).
My favourite two dishes were the crisp calamari and the delectable king prawns. These had been sautéed in white wine, onion, garlic and peperoncino chilli, for a sauce that I couldn't help but mop up. The batter was a little heavy, but luckily the lighter dishes on the table balanced this out.
The Caprese salad was the classic combination we all know and love. Although the mozzarella wasn't the highest quality I've ever tried, it was a fresh and colourful dish which was well received. My dining partner loved her choice of rigatoni, which came with a Calabrian spicy pork & beef ragu, spicy Napoli sausage and a kick of chilli. It's finished with mozzarella, breadcrumbs and Gran Moravia for an indulgent taste of Italy.
To conclude, we enjoyed a couple of their tempting desserts; the Cioccolato Divino (£3.95) and Terzetto di Dolcetti (£4.55). The trio, made up of a dark chocolate and orange liqueur torte, a white chocolate cheesecake and lemon tart, is always a popular choice for indecisive dessert lovers. All three were pocket-sized treats which were tasty in their own right. The Cioccolato Divino is a heavy choice; a luxurious medley of chocolate, amaretti biscuits, almonds and orange liqueur which I struggled to finish. In a good way. However I didn't see the need for pouring cream and something with a thicker texture would have worked better here. This is definitely one for the dark chocolate lovers!
Pesto is a family friendly restaurant with an easy-going atmosphere and accessible menu for Italian aficionados and foodie newbies alike. They currently have a great lunch menu, which comes in at a respectable 3 dishes for £8.95. For that you can't really go wrong!
(The only issue is the crazy busy car park - a sign of popularity but something to keep in mind when going as a large group!)
Pesto at the White Horse
I was invited to for a complimentary meal at Pesto to review the menu. All opinions are honest and my own.