One guarantee in my life is that my kids will never (ever) say no at the mention of pizza for dinner, whether that be a frozen supermarket job, a Saturday night Domino’s Pepperoni Passion ‘hangover special’ (ok that’s me with the hangover, not them!) or a trip out to a local Italian. Therefore, when we’re away from home it’s usually a foregone conclusion that locating a pizzeria will be on the cards, if only that I can ensure they have one decent meal.
Recently, this came in the form of Taormina, an independent Italian restaurant located in Crawley, and owned by three friends. With traditional Sicilian fare and a wide selection of dishes from pizzas, pastas, fish and meat, I pretty much knew that there would be something on offer to tempt little mouths with.
On arrival we were warmly welcomed by friendly staff, and informed we could choose where we sat. Not wishing to disturb the couple having an ‘enviable’ romantic meal in the prime window spot, we disappeared into the depths of the 60 seater restaurant in order to somewhat mask the usual comments that come from dining out with kids…namely “I’m bored”, “when’s my dinner coming”, “I need the toilet”…ok you get the idea!
Taking a look around, the restaurant was beautifully decorated in keeping with the Sicilian theme. White tablecloths presented an air of fine dining (needless to say they didn’t stay white for long with us around..to be fair my two really should have come with vouchers for Vanish included!) I loved the ‘rustic looking’ wine racks, the cork map of Sicily, and the wine bottle lighting attached to the symbol on the Sicilian flag, made a lovely addition to the interior.
The menu itself is fairly extensive and there is an excellent choice of antipasti dishes ranging from £3 for garlic bread, to £8.95 for a plate of cured meats and up to £25 for a fillet steak for main. Pizzas range from £7.25 to £10.50 and pasta dishes £8.50 to £11.95.
Feeling exceptionally hungry after a four and half hour trip from Cardiff (due to the wonders that are the M4 and M25 on a Friday afternoon), we opted for three antipasti dishes of Carpaccio di Salmone – carpaccio of smoked salmon with ricotta, lemon and apples; Barbabietola e bufalo mozzarella – beetroot and bufalo mozzarella with balsamic dressing and Pizzetta aglio – Italian style garlic bread.
Being the wonderful parent I am…yeah ok! – I do ‘attempt’ to avoid swearing in front of my kids. However, I hate to say that on this occasion a ‘Sugar Honey Ice Tea’ (ok that may be just an 80’s child thing – ha ha) moment may have occurred; because as starters go, s*** they were generous. The carpaccio was beyond imagination; beautifully presented and the smoked salmon was delicious with the lemon dressing and ricotta. I’m still not entirely sure on the addition of so much apple. If I am being honest it was a little too much, and while it paired surprisingly well with the salmon, I would have been happy with half the portion. A similar story with the barbabietola e bufalo, again a lovely traditional dish, but the big ball of buffalo mozzarella that had been placed on the top was again a little too much, and I personally thought required refining.
Now I was scared…if those were the starters – how big were the mains? Luckily, we had been forewarned as on ordering we had been kindly advised that one pizza would be sufficient between the two kids. Nevertheless, I do believe they were going for the Guinness World Record of the largest calzone in England. I also may or may not have upgraded the swear word at this point. Oops! (On a separate note I have just had to Google World’s largest calzone – ha ha – wow!)
Having chosen the Prosciutto e funghi pizza myself, I can honestly say that size really does matter in this restaurant! However, the base was beautifully crispy, and as pizzas go it was a pretty damn good one! Busy tucking into the vast amounts of prosciutto, it was at this point that I glanced over at my youngest, who sat in the corner, was making a silent plea for water. To be completely fair the front of house team were on this much quicker than I was, as they obviously realised that the Chef had accidentally placed the spicy pepperoni on the children’s pizza instead!
There was nothing else to do but laugh, especially when his face was turning the same colour as the Welsh rugby top that he had so purposely decided to wear on our trip to England! (It will also hopefully teach him not to just pick the pepperoni topping off the pizza and stuff it all in his mouth too!) Staff were absolutely fantastic though, apologised profusely, and a replacement was in front of them both within less than 10 minutes.
Absolutely full to the brim by this point, there was no chance that a viewing of the dessert menu was a viable option on this visit! However, on request of the bill we were kindly presented with four complimentary shot glasses – needless to say only two were Limoncello, but in a game of make believe where apple juice is alcohol, the team at Taormina scored big brownie points with both me and the kids.
- A welcoming and accommodating restaurant, where nothing appeared to be too much trouble.
- Great customer service from a friendly team, who are passionate about the experience that guests receive.
- Dishes are all freshly prepared, and excellent value for money in terms of quantity and quality of ingredients used.
- Extremely responsive in terms of reservations, I received a very pleasant reply and confirmation within minutes.
Would I go again?
I am unlikely to be in the area again any time soon, however if I was, a repeat visit would definitely be considered.
More importantly though…the kid’s verdict
Me : Did you like the restaurant?
Child 1 : I liked the pizza and the lights that were made out of wine bottles. They were pretty.
Child 2 : Yes, the lady kept winking at me all the time. I think she liked me (little charmer!)
Me: What was your favourite part?
Child 1 and 2 : The pizza (reiterated about three or four times afterwards).
Would I recommend Taormina?
Independent restaurants such as Taormina are one of the reasons why I write my blog. Run with passion and an insatiable desire to offer people a different dining experience, value for money and great food; Taormina quite rightly ticks all these boxes. With this is mind, if you live locally or are in the vicinity I would highly recommend supporting these type of restaurants – with the ‘chain’s’ literally just around the corner and at a similar price point, I would personally choose Taormina every time.
Address | 7 High Street, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 1BH