I would go a long way for a good guazzetto. Happily, good fortune has so conspired that I need travel just down the road.
There is a bonus too, as I have now discovered two variations on the same theme.
Guazzetto is a seafood stew of differing origins, depending on who is telling you. Toscano and Sicily I’ve heard.
It gets a different treatment depending on the preference of the chef and the bounty of the overnight catch.
Mussels and prawns are essential, but there could also be clams, squid, winkles, cockles and scallops.
The excellent Il Toro in Horwich will rustle one up for you even if it isn’t on the menu, and its guazzetto has a brilliant paprika red sauce in soup-like quantity which demands a couple of lightly crunchy bruschetta.
I was expecting the same dazzling colour at Luciano’s, but it’s a subtle lemon shade, a thermidor sauce, and it has that intense mix of white wine, mustard, lemon juice, chopped shallots and cream with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on the mussels, cockles, prawns and scallops, plus crostini bread.
I’ve raved about the guazzetto so much in the past that your assistant reviewer, probably just to shut me up, decides to go for it too.
She is impressed, if a little put off by the price… £8.25.
Luciano’s is buzzing. A few brightly coloured Italian mopeds have been added to the décor and there’s music from a self-playing grand piano filling the restaurant as the tables are filling up, an influx which would cause delays at lesser places but here the staff are more than coping… coping with the usual blend of Italian waiter wit and putting in the extra visits to top up with pepper and to finally take away the plate and metal stand on which rested our garlic bread… ordered to nibble during the wrongly anticipated waits between courses.
Thus a large lamb shank and a lemon sole are swept towards us.
We are rationing the Sicilian red – a Nero d’Avola beginning to justify its £20 price tag – even more carefully today because the water crisis has meant tap water is not being served and the assistant reviewer will not stretch to mineral water … on principle, and even thinks that on principle the restaurant should provide free bottled water as a good will gesture.
I suggest that she mentions this, but she doesn’t ... bottles out, in fact.
The shank is tender and tasty, in another great sauce comprised of juices from the lamb cooked with thyme and rosemary, red onions, pancetta and sultanas, and halved black olives.
The sole has been half filleted and the flesh is delicious, and is covered in sauce No.3… white wine, lemon juice, garlic and parmesan which proves to be too salty for taste.
Prawns, Norwegian according to the menu, are sprinkled about.
Craving something simple for dessert, I reckon bread pudding should fit the bill and indeed it does.
Given what has gone before it’s oddly unstylish… lukewarm bread, home made, with a fruit of some kind, possibly prune. The ‘sauce’ this time is a no-nonsense custard.
The scene opposite is anything but simple… a double-decker meringue tower stuffed with strawberry flavoured cream, fresh sliced strawberries and strawberry sauce and with a chopped strawberry on top, likewise a dusting of icing sugar.
The bill came to £86.
Name: Luciano’s Italian Restaurant
Address: At the Millstone, Bolton Road, Anderton, Chorley.
Contact: 01257 480 205
Evening dining: 6pm-10pm
Access for disabled diners: Yes, with a few cobbles out front, and parking for disabled drivers