WE cannot emphasise enough the freshness (and the portion sizes!) as we attended the opening night of Penarth’s latest restaurant Amici D’Italia.

We reported Amici's was announced as the new restaurant coming to Penarth’s Esplanade and we wrote Amici’s was simmering nicely as it was being set up, well now we can confirm Amici’s is ready to give you a full-blown Italian feast!

If you like pizzas, pasta, risotto, steak, fish, and chicken all cooked to maximum freshness then you have to try Amici's.

The man only known as Eddie has moved him and his team from their lauded restaurant in Pontypool and are focusing maximum attention for the next four weeks on Amici's Penarth.

The décor has changed – gone are the mahoganies and reds, and those whiskey barrels… of Casa Di Margarita. Now the restaurant space beneath Beach Cliff Apartments is a modern, crisp, dare we say space-agey, new Italian restaurant.

Penarth Times: Amici's opened in Penarth on February 18Amici's opened in Penarth on February 18 (Image: Newsquest)

Penarth Times: The restaurant is on the Esplanade at the site of Casa di MargaritaThe restaurant is on the Esplanade at the site of Casa di Margarita (Image: Newsquest)

Italian restaurant Amici D’Italia Penarth: Freshness personified

It cannot be emphasised enough, the freshness of the dishes!

Despite the extensive menu you won’t hear pinging microwaves in the kitchen.

Nearly everything at Amici's is cooked from scratch, including the bread, and it was that bread in our starter selection (calamari, bruschetta di formaggio, funghi con aglio) that blew us away, along with the freshness of bruschetta di Napoli – up there with the refreshing, zingy taste of something like Tapas Bar 44 classic Atún.

Penarth Times: The starter: bruschetta di formaggioThe starter: bruschetta di formaggio (Image: Newsquest)

Then it was on to the mains - mains that would have satisfied the appetites of Roman Gladiators...

The pastas - all made in house - were soft, but not in any way soggy – the curse that befalls overcooked (or over-microwaved…) pastas.

But it was the flavour of those sauces that boggled the mind. The lasagne’s tomato sauce had a sweetness which complimented the meat excellently.

Landlord at Amici's, Richard Hayward, who was keeping a watchful eye over opening night proceedings, insisted we try the grill – which disappointingly took me away from my favourite puttanesca (excuse to go back) – however that initial disappointment was consumed by admiration at the size of my bass fillets (two of them), their taste and the crispness of those skins!

Penarth Times: Classic lasagneClassic lasagne (Image: Newsquest)

Penarth Times: Off the grill: the sea bassOff the grill: the sea bass (Image: Newsquest)

Penarth Times: The fish. MouthwateringThe fish. Mouthwatering (Image: Newsquest)

Opening nights in restaurants are known to be one of the most interesting nights of a restaurant's lifespan... (think customer impatience, waiters constantly apologising and shouting chefs). However, Eddie is known back in Ponty for being meticulous at training his staff and that training showed as this opening night went off, from what our untrained eyes could see, without a hitch.

What I am trained in is tiramisu, eating it (not cooking…) and the tiramisu at Amici's is something to worship – light, tasty, without an overpowering coffee flavour and perfectly made – not too stodgy, not too dry.

Penarth Times: The tiramisu, one of the best we have hadThe tiramisu, one of the best we have had (Image: Newsquest)

Penarth Times: Eddie (centre; tie) and the team behind Amici'sEddie (centre; tie) and the team behind Amici's (Image: Newsquest)

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It would have taken the kitchen tens of minutes to prepare the rest of the dishes on the menu for us to sample, and us a month to finish them and report back to you.

For now, we’ll leave you with this, and advise you, go try it for yourselves!

Our verdict: Richard Hayward said Amici D’Italia will blast its way through Penarth. Let’s see if it really does...    

To book a table at Amici’s go to www.amiciditalia.uk, or phone 029 2003 3920.