last time we ate here the place was called Zio Carlo (“the hidden gem in the Fylde”), it was fairly quiet even on a Thursday evening and I’d have put money on it being on the opposite side of the road.
This time we knew where we going. Zio Carlo – never an easy name to remember – has reverted to its original identity: the Ferrari’s which isn’t the posh one nearer Preston.
Several friends had advised us to book, said that it was excellent value for money and warned that parking would be at a premium.
How right they were. So what’s changed? Or at least changed back? Well the already respectably crumpled menus informs diners that “Susan and Ginio are back after seven years” which explains a lot.
We arrived slightly early for our 8.15pm reservation to find the reception area (and indeed much of the spacious restaurant) packed.
But the efficient staff were coping admirably, even if Great Eccleston still tends to be the kind of place where the conversation drops when “strangers” walk in.
There’s a sensibly sized a la carte menu with very manageable wine selection but it’s clearly the attraction of two courses for £10 or three four £13.50 which has converted this previously backwater gem into a mainstream diamond.
With eight starters and a dozen main choices there’s no feeling of penny pinching about opting for the cheaper meals - even if the top end of the scale did sound tempting (we’ll save Suzy’s Delight at £20.50 or fillet steak with shelled king prawn and “Suzy’s Secret Sauce” at £26.50 for a special occasion). So to start we selected “Ginio’s own traditional liver pate and sauteed liver and kidney with onions and red wine jus.
Both were far more substantial than we’d expected for the price and came accompanied by bread (as much as we wanted) and a jug of water). The pate looked and tasted home made – coarsish and with marinated side salad and chutney, the liver etc, combining interesting textures and a rich dark jus.
The loin of lamb main carried a £2.95 supplement but was perfectly pink, extremely tender and melt in the mouth. It came with mashed potato and a rosemary jus served separately.
My pork diane was just as delicious with a mushroom, onion and brandy sauce augmented by wine, mustard and cream.
Red cabbage (not pickled) and ample sauteed potatoes accompanied the mains.
My wife had noticed meringue led desserts fly by and added a substantial fruit and cream Eton Mess to her evening meal – not what she’d seen but what she liked.
A bottle of Le Poeste Veneto 2011 Pinot Grigio Blush, a pint of Peroni, a strong fresh coffee and a pre-meal mineral water still barely pushed the bill over the £50 mark. Welcome back Susan and Ginio.
Address: West Ends, Great Eccleston
Phone: (01995) 670243
Opening times: Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm and Sunday from 4pm
Parking: Mainly on the street and can be busy
Disabled access: Yes
Worth a visit for: Atmosphere and value for money
One thing I’d change: Not the name