DINING OUT: Nuovo Cuisine, a Mediterranean medley well worth an encore

Nuovo Cuisine, Abington Street.
Nuovo Cuisine, Abington Street.
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Nuovo Cuisine - easier to pronounce before three pints - is a hidden side street gem in Northampton town centre.

It may appear the size of a Brighton beach hut, but looks here are deceiving.

The striped interior boasts a classy vibe.

The striped interior boasts a classy vibe.

I hadn't eaten in this restaurant since it had changed hands from Joe's Diner and an impromptu Friday night after out work seemed to be the ideal time to test out how the restaurant functioned at prime time.

Set within a courtyard, first impressions were quaint and bustling with tables outside for smokers to resort to as well as al fresco diners.

Upon entering, the tables on the lower floor were packed out, but, despite fearing the worst, my group of three were quickly allocated a table upstairs, dreading we'd have to vacate and resort for a greasy kebab.

To those yet to cross the threshold of Nuovo, the restaurant serves Ciccheti, essentially an Italian version of tapas.

Bruschetta with garlic, tomato and grana padano shavings.

Bruschetta with garlic, tomato and grana padano shavings.

So among our trio we ordered what seemed like pretty much everything on the menu, letting our ravenous stomachs do the decision making.

If you like your food served on a plate, then this is not the restaurant for you.

Instead, my Bruschetta arrived on a black slate and the whitebait arrived in a small deep-fat-fryer-like dish.

As the menu is so wide-ranging, there is a tendency to mix all dishes together. It turns out whitebait and Tuscan sausage casserole doesn't mix too well as a combo, but that has always been the principle joy (and downfall) of small plate dining.

Upstairs was empty on arrival but soon filled up with a hen party and couples.

Upstairs was empty on arrival but soon filled up with a hen party and couples.

To start we shared olives, crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, followed on by a mix of tapas-style food ranging between £4 and £12 per dish.

My personal favourite was the impressive anatra e pancetta: a duck breast served with crisp pancetta.

But our waitress was attentive, explaining and interpreting our Italian queries.

My favourite part of the Nuovo dining experience is not a monstrous pub adorned with BOGOF offers, instead, a proper adult restaurant where you can even purchase your favourite antipasti from the Nuovo deli, if you hadn't stocked up enough already.

The olives and crusty bread was 8 to start.

The olives and crusty bread was 8 to start.

The NuovoCuisine can play host for exclusive dining for up to 80 guests, including use of a private bar, stage and dancefloor.

The Abington Street eatery opens for lunch from midday until 2.30pm on Monday to Friday, reopening for dinner at 5.30pm until 10pm.

The restaurant stays open on Saturday from noon, closing at 10pm while doors are shut to the public on Sundays.

SCORE: 9/10

Spaghetti Aglio Olio with garlic, chilli, parsley, olive oil, seasonal vegetables and Anatra e Pancetta: duck breast, crisp pancetta, mustard fruit.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio with garlic, chilli, parsley, olive oil, seasonal vegetables and Anatra e Pancetta: duck breast, crisp pancetta, mustard fruit.