L’Ulivo Restaurant Review

L’Ulivo is an Italian restaurant based on Irving street just off Leicester Square. I went here by chance the other week when meeting a friend for dinner. We both fancied pasta, and although there are numerous Italian places in Leicester Square we thought we would try somewhere different to the usual Bella Italia and Ask chains that we’ve been to in the past.

So wandering the streets and looking at the menus outside the restaurants, we had that holiday feel, with waiters trying to entice us in…unfortunately outside of L’Ulivo we had a lady staring at us and moving closer but not saying a word!
For some unknown reason, maybe it was her uncomfortable presence we decided to go in there as we remembered seeing a deal with Tastecard online. After getting over the language barrier and asking the waitress if it would be ok to use the tastecard as we hadn’t booked we were shown to our seats.

We were assured by the lady at the front of house that it is fine to use the tastecard, so sat down and ordered some drinks. While we did this, we asked the new waitress what deal the restaurant offers with the tastecard..2for1 or 50% off is the usual. After checking with her manager, we were told we couldn’t use it! Although the manager was hovering around and after sensing our annoyance came over to say that he shouldn’t do it but he will on this occasion (much to his annoyance). Whilst we were deciding what to eat, we asked the waitress once more what the actual deal was, and were then affronted by another lady who dismissively told us that we cannot use the tastecard as we had not booked. We told her that we had already spoken to front of house and the manager who said that it was ok on this occasion and after letting us know that the front of house is new and doesn’t know what she is doing gave us a dismissive look and a tut, before strutting off!

Suffice to say, it wasn’t the best start to a meal but being in good company, my friend and I decided to overlook this and order anyway, keen to catch up with each other. After finally being told that the tastecard deal is 2for1 by what seemed to be the only nice waitress in the place, we ordered some bruschetta with tomato salsa for starter. My friend ordered a chicken and pasta dish while I opted for a seafood tagliatelle.

The starters were adequate, although presentation was not the best (sorry no pictures this time) and when our mains came I have to say they were very large portions. My meal was tasty, cooked in a great spicy tomato sauce, although as a seafood dish with mussels and prawns, I would have preferred to get a side bowl to dispose of the shells rather than having to try and balance them in a corner on my bowl! Some of the seafood, (squid, smaller mussels and clams) did not taste as fresh as I would have hoped and I suspect these were probably from a frozen or pre-packed case although for the price I cannot complain too much!

Overall, the food was of average quality, although not such an amazing authentic italian restaurant as I would have hoped. The service definitely needs a lot of improvement, there was one waitress out of about five people that we spoke with who actually made us feel welcome! Still, at least the toilets were of good quality!

Cuisine: Italian
Price: Do tastecard 2for1 offer – around £30 with starter and mains for 2
Dress Code: Casual
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
food: 6 value: 5 service: 4 ambience: 5 recommend: 5