Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
I was really excited to eat at Trattoria 51 in Liverpool as the restaurant prides itself on offering gluten free options on the majority of items on the menu. Both my son and I are wheat intolerant and eating out is difficult to say the least. I ate with my husband, 4 year old daughter and 19 month old son on a weekday lunchtime.
Trattoria 51 is an Italian restaurant situated in a business focused area of Liverpool. We parked in Queen’s carpark which was a 15 minute walk away, but we did notice that is was only a short walk to Moorfields train station. I am sure that there are smaller carparks much closer to the restaurant but we felt that parking a little further away in a multi-storey would be easier than searching for a space. From the outside the building is stunning with pillars either side of the door and modest, tasteful signposting. It is located on the corner of Old Hall Street.
As we entered the restaurant we were greeted immediately at a reception desk by (I assume) the manager. He was friendly, had a huge smile for us and gave us a choice of tables. The high ceilings, enormous windows and grand architecture in the place were stunning. The decor was clean and modern, the restaurant was pristine and there was a real attention to detail in how the place looked. The restaurant is set over two floors, with a combination of high and low tables, and I must comment on the amazing smell of fresh food as we were shown to our table. The toilets were clearly recently cleaned, and of an equally high standard of decor to the restaurant.
We were introduced to our waiter, who was very quick to offer a high chair and take our pram away to give us a little more room. At no point did we feel rushed, but as soon as we settled into our chairs drinks were offered and we were given menus, including a specials menu. The whole ambience was relaxing.
I particularly liked being able to see into the kitchen as a large door remained open at all times, giving you a glimpse of the chef at work.
Looking around at other diners there was a mixture of groups and couples of all ages. There is an express lunchtime menu, and both my husband and I noticed that the lunchtime groups were served promptly whilst other diners were allowed to take their time, which was just good management.
The only critique that I would have on reading the menu was that it wasn’t clear initially how to order meals for the children. Once we asked our waiter he explained that children can order any pizza or pasta dish, but I feel it could have been a little clearer on the actual menu.
I have to say that the gentleman who served us was fantastic. He had noted from our booking that some members of our group needed to order a gluten free option, and he actually mentioned this before I had the chance so that he could ensure we ordered correctly which I thought was a professional touch. He was able to answer my queries regarding the menu, he was friendly and chatty with our children, and it was just nice to order without fuss; eating out with a wheat intolerance generally involves blank looks from our waiter, and a three way conversation between him/her and the chef. This was simple and worry free which made for a much more pleasant dining experience.
The staff very kindly served our children’s food with our starters, which didn’t take too long to arrive. My starter was the garlic mushrooms served with crusty bread. It was simply exquisite. I generally don’t like gluten free bread, so I would love to know how the Chef made this so delicious. My husband’s soup of the day was of the same standard also. My sons’ gluten free Spaghetti Bolognese was packed full of flavour, and he was served such an enormous portion which was fantastic as I often find that children’s meals can be on the small size. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed her cheesy lasagne too.
The waiting staff did check on us a couple of times to ensure we were happy, but at no point did we feel bothered or rushed. They were friendly and comfortably attentive.
For my main course I had Penne Arrabbiata. The gluten free pasta was cooked to perfection, the sauce was deliciously spicy and of a generous portion size. I went for the spicy sausage option, and my only criticism would be that I would have preferred a chunky sausage, but that is just personal preference.
My husband had the Pescatora Pizza, and wow was it impressive! The Chef did not scrimp on seafood at all, and my husband assures me that it tasted as good as it looked.
The dessert menu was a surprise, as usually my eating-out options are limited. Several items were gluten free, including some of the cakes, but I opted for a lemon and lime posset with a shortbread biscuit. It was very sweet and simply delicious, the perfect end to an amazing meal. My daughter had ice-cream with a wafer, which she enjoyed. You cannot beat Italian ice-cream. I was completely full after the meal and grateful for the 15 minute walk to the carpark!
As we prepared to leave, again we were helped with our pram and given a very warm farewell by waiting staff and the manager. Although the restaurant looked amazing, it was in no way pretentious.
Trattoria 51 is based in a vibrant area of Liverpool, but even if the restaurant is a little out of the way from where you live, I would recommend coming along to try it particularly if you have a gluten or wheat intolerance. Dining is much more relaxing when the worry of a food intolerance is removed, and Liverpool is an amazing city to explore after a good meal! It was also nice to experience high quality dining as we did in the days before having children… but actually with the children. The express lunchtime menu looked excellent value for money, and the main menu was priced very reasonably for the quality and freshness of the food.
I would imagine this to be a lovely venue for a romantic evening meal, or night out with friends.
I would absolutely award every aspect of this dining experience.
For more information, to view menus or to make a booking online visit www.trattoria51.com.
Trattoria 51, 25-31 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9BS | 0151 236 4739