Thank you for coming to read my review of this fine Italian (I beg your pardon), I mean Sardinian restaurant. This was an evening out with cousins and good friends. Agreed location - Stratford Upon Avon. There were plenty of good suggestions put forward; however, after finding a family run restaurant specialising in the best that La Cucina Sarda has to offer, FeedTim was making the final decision.
The occasion was one to celebrate. On top of great company this was a chance for Stef (my cameraman for my cooking series in Andalucía) and I to celebrate a successful, if not jam-packed few days filming in Vejer de la Frontera just a few months prior. Over those 4 days in southern Spain, Stef picked up a fair few cooking tips (which you can learn by watching my videos), and became engrossed into the Andalucían diet. But not to get sidetracked, this was an opportunity to celebrate with fine people and really quite fine food. It was certainly worth the journey from Birmingham.
Sophisticated but relaxed. Il Moro is a classy place but intimate with plenty of space left between each table. I don’t remember hearing any music in the background, which was nice as the gentle buzz of the bar staff preparing drinks, waiters taking orders and the hum of conversation around the room made it feel lively. This is a 2 storey restaurant (the upstairs I assume can be reserved for private events), but while we were there all guests were dining downstairs and it was busy.
There was definitely a homely feel to the restaurant. I guess this is what chef Massimiliano (a Sardinian of descent) and his wife were aiming for when opening Il Moro. I would occasionally glance above our table to see new customers greeted very warmly by staff, which suggested to me this was not the first time they were eating here.
Food & Wine
Staying true to the FeedTim philosophy (and personally the most sensible), I ordered a Sardinian wine. I was recommended the Perdera Monica, a local red. It was absolutely divine. Rich, warming and spiced with notes of plums, it was perfect for this very bitter evening in November. This beautiful wine also dictated the main that was later to be had.
Nibbles naturally included bread. We ordered the Cestino di Pane, a basket of homemade focaccia & bread with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The breads were enjoyable and intriguing. There was a darker variety that had a cake like consistency and tasted slightly sweet. I must try and retrieve the recipe.
Il Moro was already making a good impression and so I took the plunge and went for the Polpo for starters. A chilled salad of octopus, artichokes and watercress with balsamic vinegar, the fish was perfectly done and wasn’t overcooked and rubbery. It was cut into delicate slices and was a generous size, but not too much to spoil the main course. I liked that the octopus was cut so thinly, especially after being used to the hearty chunks that you are typically served in the Galician dish Pulpo a la Gallega. My cousin ordered the Mozzarella, Broad Bean & Pesto salad that was also a winner.
Main course, and the specials board was playing mind games. Pasta is my food heaven and therefore a no brainer. But with some delectable sounding fish and game dishes, I was struggling. In the end I went with pasta and followed our waiter’s recommendation of the Paccheri tube pasta with diced lamb, rosemary & tomato ragù. It sounded rustic and again warming and I thought it would be a great match with my wine.
Paccheri is a long tubed pasta that resembles cannelloni and is often used for the same purpose of being stuffed with simple, fresh ingredients and baked in the oven. However this was a plate of pasta in its own right and was fantastic. Cooked al dente and not skimping on the ragù (it’s not the kind of dish that goes light on the sauce), it tasted like how I imagine Nonna’s cooking to taste. Chef didn’t hold back on the rosemary or the tomato, and well seasoned, it made a really enjoyable dish (to the point where I just had to soak up every last bit with some bread).
Warm, friendly and funny. Our water was French and crucially knew the menu well. His recommendation definitely got my approval. Later in the evening I managed to have a chat with Massimiliano himself, which concluded the whole dining experience at Il Moro very nicely indeed. He went out of his way to shoe me the Paccheri pasta in its dried state and discuss typical Sardinian staples that he grew up with. He was a nice man and I thank him for that.
For a restaurant that offers a sense of occasion, very reasonable prices and a menu made predominantly of ingredients and wines from Sardinia, Il Moro is a must.