A Slice of Sicily
Priory Lane, Penwortham



Situated in a small row of shops just off the main road between Preston and Southport as it passes through Penwortham, this is a small Italian café/restaurant (calling itself a bistro) that is gradually over-running the delicatessen out of which it has grown.  The main eating area is to the rear in a conservatory extension.
I went at lunchtime, when there is only a cut-down menu available unfortunately, though oddly, looking at their website, a fuller menu is available to take away! The daytime menu comprises mainly panini, pizza and salads.

I saw some panini come out and they looked substantial constructions using what looked like home made ciabatta.  
I sarted with a very decent mixed vegetable soup that, to judge from its smooth texture, had had some effort expended on it.  This came with a couple of very good home made rolls, straight from the oven and a neat quenelle of butter. I have to say that I was impressed that a small unpretentious place like this should take care to quenelle some butter for bread with soup.
Veg soup at slice of sicily

For main course I had a pizza Diavola (with spicy salami). A notably good base with an impressive puffy, charred cornicione (the Italian term for the rim of the pizza), and topped with good quality ingredients, though my overall impression was tht it was perhaps a bit over-filled, and that a slightly lighter hand with the tomato would have have lifted this into the category of excellent.
pizza at slice of sicily

The menu listed a number of homemade desserts including a cheesecake, billed as "shortcrust base filled with ricotta cheese". It wasn't. It was a very light, airy, almost mousse texture on top of a standard crushed biscuit crumb base. It was supposed to be chocolate and orange, but any chocolate was more evident in the pale milk chocolate colour, and the orange element seemed to be some bits of chopped up orange-flavoured jelly on top. On the side was what was billed as "fresh whipped cream" but which seemed to me likely to have been out of a squirty aerosol can - if it wasn't, they've perfected a way of aerating cream to mimic squirty aerosols. Compared to what had gone before, I found the cheesecake disappointing, in that it didn't live up to its description on the menu, and it seemed to lack the innate Italian-ness of the savoury dishes.

Unsurprisingly, espresso coffee was very good.  Service is knowledgeable and efficient.

Note: I've been a few more times than the first visit on which I reported above.  Most recent visits have not been anywhere near as impressive, but I've been particularly put off by what seemed to be failings in front of house cleaning, such that for the first time ever I felt I had to draw it to the attention of the local environmental health.  I like the relaxed style and simple food, though, and must revisit.

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Last updated: 27 April 2011