Food: 7 Drink: 10 (BYO) Atmosphere: 7.5 Overall: 7
Bristol is a city as dedicated to its independent eateries as it is its street art, its culture, and its beautiful independent shops. Although we’re spoilt for choice, we should all take full advantage of the chocolate box of restaurants, bars and cafés this city has to offer. Escape the busy exuberance of Park Street and pay a visit to Sergio’s, a quaint, family-run Italian restaurant that specialises in hearty mains, lip-smacking pasta dishes, and those oh-so-cheesy pizzas.
Established in 1989, Sergio’s holds a charming authenticity: the impression that nothing much has changed since, and that’s just the way it should be. Tablecloths patterned with olive branches cover creaky wooden tables, flowers sprout from old wine bottles and bags of onions hang from the walls. Classic Italian opera melodramatically warbles through the restaurant; Sergio’s keep it strictly native with old-school tunes blasting from the speakers. Importantly for us students too, Sergio’s is BYOB, perfect for students looking for a special night out with the price kept low.
With crowd-pleasers such as spaghetti meatballs and pasta Arrabiata on the menu, I opted for a more intriguing-sounding, heart-warming pasta dish of tagliatelle with mushrooms, pesto, rocket, and feta. This was a deliciously simple dish done well. With an appropriate ratio of pasta to cheese, and a healthy portion that left me feeling satisfied, this was comfort food in its finest form, and a really good veggie dish. My dinner companion went for the Baked Bolognese Rigatoni, and while this was pretty heavy on the meat and cheese, you get the feeling that the plates of grub in Sergio's have been cooked to mama’s recipe for years and served straight from her kitchen. After all, portions are essential when it comes to pasta, and both dishes delivered far more style and substance compared to the likes of Zizzi’s or Jamie’s Italian – the latter in fact announced the closure of several of their UK branches last month. Being students, we opted for BYO with a Sainsbury’s bottle of Chianti (cheap and cheerful, as per usual).
All your classic dessert needs are answered here, with a range of sticky and sweet home-made treats on the menu. Tiramisu, apple crumble cheesecake, chocolate torte, dark chocolate rum tart, sorbets, cheeses and liquor coffees... Nothing too fancy, but no one’s saying that Sergio’s is pushing the boundaries of Italian cuisine. Disappointingly however, this is the kind of restaurant which you'd expect to be generous on the portions while lowering the prices, however these are arguably a setback, with pasta dishes averaging £14 and starters priced at £7 (justifiable, I think, for a special evening out). A dining experience that is infinitely more authentic than the Italian chains dominating Park Street, yet only a few steps away, Sergio’s feels like a well-kept secret in the heart of Bristol’s city centre. Friendly service, a quirky atmosphere and belly-warming Italian grub, Sergio’s is a delightful hide-out for a cosy romantic evening.
If eating a steaming bowl of cheesy carb gets you in the mood for a night out, check out nearby cocktail bar Red Light. Yet another example of Bristol’s fantastic independent and original food & drink scene, Red Light is a speak-easy drinking den conveniently located a minute away from Sergio’s. Look out for the red light and payphone, pick up the phone and ask for a table - or book ahead to avoid disappointment. Offering mastered servings of long and short cocktails paired with vintage décor, red velvet chairs and candlelight, this is the perfect place for a cosy night-cap and intimate drinking experience for you and your admirer.
http://sergios.co.uk/ 1-3 Frogmore Street
Pictures: Sergio's website ^