I have been recommended this Italian restaurant several times but had never quite got round to visiting until now. It turns out to be a shame I took such a long time, since Gino's boasts tasty food, genuinely friendly and fast service, and a warm atmosphere.
We were greeted almost as soon as we entered by a friendly Italian waitress whose smiley service was very honest. Luckily when we arrived at the restaurant at 9pm, there were a couple of tables left, although they do advise making a reservation to avoid disappointment. The restaurant was full which made for a warm bubbling undercurrent of human voices. To add to this warmth, the walls and ceiling are egg yolk orange and the room feels particularly bright and homely. People gradually left and by half past nine we were two of only four diners, but the staff conveyed no ounce of resentment at our being there and maintained their impeccable service right to the end of our visit.
We ordered the bruschette al pomodoro as a starter, which thankfully came very quickly - I was hungry. It consisted of two pieces of thick, toasted fluffy bread topped with chopped fresh tomato, herbs and olive oil. It was clear that the oil was high quality, and the little side salad was fresh. We were provided with condiments of more oil and balsamic vinegar, both of which were also delicious and of a good standard.
For the main course, I had a capricciosa pizza and my friend had a risotto ai funghi porcini . There was a bit of a delay between the starter and the main course but this was understandable since the kitchen was probably slowing down before closing. My pizza had very crispy edges and a much softer centre. It was generously topped with vegetables but generally unadulterated; it didn't taste extravagant in terms of salt or fat, which is refreshing for a restaurant pizza! The risotto was creamy, with melt-in-the-mouth mushrooms, and was a very generous portion size. In fact, the pizza was also the perfect size, not too big or small, so that I ate the whole thing and didn't feel hungry or too full.
Indeed, I was suitably not-too-full to squeeze in a pudding, for which I chose the classic chocolate semifreddo, which was coated in chocolate powder and crushed hazelnuts and served in a very extravagant dish (pictured below). My friend had a slice of 'torta di nonna' which was lemony but not overly bitter and had interesting textural layers.
Gino's is a very nice restaurant with a great family vibe. I would recommend it for a pre- (or possibly post-) theatre or cinema dinner as it offers good value (our meal, including a starter and puddings, came to £32.15), fast service and satisfying food.