Salmon Nicoise salad at Prezzo

A quick bite – Prezzo, Rugby

We all love a slap-up meal, especially me as I’m sure it’s become abundantly obvious. But there are times when you just want to pop out for a bite to eat. No fuss, no fancy decor, and no blowout bill. Just a chance to eat some decent food, at a reasonable price, in nice surroundings.

While Mr M and I are generally quite good during the week, sometimes if we’ve had a busy few days, or haven’t got anything in for dinner, or simply haven’t seen each other for a few days (that happens fairly regularly when one of you works shifts), then we’ll pop out for some food. It’s less stressful for starters, but also gives you a nice environment to finally catch up with each other, have a real conversation, and breathe that sigh of relief after a hectic few days have passed.

One of our go-to places for these occasions in Rugby’s branch of Prezzo. This Italian chain has got more than 200 restaurants across the UK, but our local one has proved itself over and over again as a reliable, consistent source of tasty, enjoyable meals. The menu has all the typical things you’d expect, from pizzas to pasta, risottos and grills. But this isn’t all there is. Starters range from bruschetta to flatbreads, calamari and crab cakes, as well as sharing starters like antipasti. The pizza menu is more than just bog-standard pizza, with smaller ‘light’ versions served with salad, or bigger ‘VIPizzas’ for those who want a bit more. Toppings include all the traditional ones, plus yummy things like pulled pork, truffle and N’duja and Calabrese sausage.

The pasta selection is more than adequate, and they even do a gluten-free range, plus some nice Al Forno dishes, as well as a ‘light’ selection of smaller pasta servings with a side salad. And for people like me who don’t always fancy an almighty carb session, there are plenty of alternatives, from sea bass served with basil pesto and asparagus, to a nice selection of salads, and flatbread salads too.

On our recent visit, we started off with some bread and olives. Always hard to resist when you walk into a restaurant starving!

Bread and olives at Prezzo, Rugby
Hard to resist bread and olives when hungry

Since it was a weeknight and I was valiantly trying to be good, I went for one of the salads, the Salmon Nicoise. I don’t always go for salads, because they can often be a letdown – all appealing on top, yet once those yummy bits are gone they morph into one big boring bowl of lettuce. Not so with this one. The portion was fairly large, but was a great mix of mixed leaves, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olive, baby potatoes, boiled egg and tasty Oak-roasted smoked salmon. It came with some flatbread cut up as well, just so I didn’t miss out on all the bready, doughy goodness that was going on around me. Everything looked and tasted fresh and was well presented, served with a nice tangy lemon and mustard dressing. I have to say, the choice was tough, with competition from several other great sounding salads, from the steak and rocket to crab cake.

Salmon Nicoise salad at Prezzo, Rugby
Great looking Salmon Nicoise salad, no disappointment here

Ever the cheesy pasta lover, Mr M opted for Fusilli Gorgonzola. The pasta came with chicken, pancetta, leeks, broccoli and parsley, all in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. It got its nod of approval from the mister, who was pleased that the pasta was still al dente, and even more pleased that the cheese sauce wasn’t too cheesy, if that makes any sense. A bit more probing, and I ascertained that while he loves cheesy sauces, he doesn’t like it when it becomes too rich and cloying that he can’t devour the whole plate. You learn something new about your partner every day!

Gorgonzola pasta at Prezzo, Rugby
Gorgonzola-loaded fusilli

We skipped dessert, although I was quite tempted by some of the yummy cheesecakes on offer – especially the honeycomb smash! I used my calories up on a couple of glasses of rather nice house white instead.

While pleased with our choices, there were plenty of other things to tempt us, so it probably won’t be long before we’re back. I’ve tried the sea bass before, and it was well executed, the fish cooked just right. The presentation is always well done, and on the several occasions we’ve been, I’ve always been impressed by the service. I can’t testify to this being blanket across the whole chain, but the Rugby branch has certainly struck lucky with some friendly, helpful waiters and waitresses.

Yes, it’s a chain, and no, there certainly aren’t any Michelin stars lying around, but that’s not always the point is it? I always wanted this blog to be about food for everybody, and Prezzo is certainly something that should appeal to, and is great for, anybody. Oh, and if you invest in a Tastecard you get some great deals here, as well as other places. (No, they didn’t ask me to write that, I just think it’s great value!)

After all, eating out is for everyone, and certainly shouldn’t be the preserve of those with big budgets and fancy-pants taste.

We paid in full for our meal at Prezzo. They didn’t know I was a blogger, or that I was going to write about the meal.