ASK Italian Chelmsford - A piece of Italy in Bond Street
One of the newest restaurants to open up in the city is ASK Italian Chelmsford, joining the throng of new places to eat in Bond Street.
Situated on the edge of the new Bond Street array of restaurants, ASK Italian overlooks the road leading to the car park of Chelmsford’s newest shopping haven.
With Prezzo and Zizzi both offering a similar menu and each being only 60 seconds walk away, I was intrigued to see what ASK Italian could offer that was different.
When the Bond Street development was opened at the end of September 2016 after 18 months of building works and more hype than anything in recent local history, I was slightly dismayed at the lack of food offering in the opening couple of weeks.
We’d been promised restaurants aplenty but for whatever reason, few of them opened until mid-October. I’d been looking forward to trying something new but instead ended up resorting to my old faithful, Chop Bloc.
A month later and Bond Street appeared to be up and running with a wide range of restaurants on offer.
I was lucky enough to be invited along to try the menu at ASK Italian a few weeks after the restaurant had opened, but is it somewhere that I’d hurry back to?
The new restaurant features seating for 140 guests, with capacity for an additional 60 covers outside in the warmer months, overlooking the river Chelmer.
The imposing glass frontage floods the restaurant with light during the daytime and showcases a very impressive hand built wooden staircase.
First things first, though. It is pronounced ASK as in the word, or A S K as in three separate letters? Rosie, the lovely PR lady who met us there confirmed it was the former, not the latter.
ASK Italian menu
Serving a range of dishes from starters such as Butterfly King Prawns, Antipasti boards and Dough Balls to mains including stone baked pizzas, pasta and salads, busy Chelmsford shoppers will be spoilt for choice at ASK Italian.
We started with the Mixed One platter, which was made up of salami, mozzarella, sea salt bread with smoked chilli jelly and olive tapenade.
Eating out these days is so much more than just getting decent food. In the social media environment we live in, food presentation is as important as anything else.
Luckily, from starters to desserts, ASK Italian’s range was completely “Instagrammable”. And yes, I winced as I wrote that.
The Mixed One starter platter, costing £12.75, was large enough to feed two of us, yet small enough to act as the appetiser that it’s meant to be. In other words, the main course was still greeted with enthusiasm, rather than full bellies.
Next up was the main course. For £12.95 I picked out the crispy pancetta and asparagus in a velvety sauce made with mascarpone, Pecorino and Grana Padano cheeses. It was as delicious as it sounds.
With a creamy finish for what was quite a large portion of food, I was worried when choosing it that it may prove too rich, but the recipe was just right, and the pancetta and asparagus complemented the cheeses superbly.
Tasha - my plus one for the event - chose the rigatoni con zucchini e pesto, which translates to courgette pasta with pesto.
As is customary for a meal with Tasha and I, the quality of the food is reflected in the lack of chatter as we eat. After all, when food is good, you don’t want to waste time talking when you could be eating, right?
Therefore, the relative silence that accompanied the meal was a testament to how much we enjoyed it.
Lastly, and the highlight of any meal, in my opinion, the dessert.
ASK Italian have a Chocolate Etna dessert where hot toffee sauce is poured over a dark chocolate cup at your table to reveal a hidden scoop of vanilla gelato on top of a hot chocolate fondant.
If I thought that my main wasn’t overly rich, this more than made up for it, with the toffee sauce, chocolate and cream all adding to a delicious taste explosion but one that left me reaching for the Rennies later on.
I regret nothing.
Overall the food was superb. ASK Italian’s homemade lemonade is definitely something that everyone should try, and the service was absolutely superb with a waitress who was polite, friendly and above all else, engaging and definitely a credit to the store.
Having been left disappointed by the food and service in Zizzi’s more than once, and experiencing bland food each time I’ve eaten at Jamie’s Italian in the city, it’s nice to have another Italian restaurant that can compete with Prezzo for my pasta-based desires.
The price of the menu was decent, and a quick look online shows that are a few offers available to reduce the cost if needed.
All in all, a return visit is definitely on the cards.
ASK Italian take bookings at www.askitalian.co.uk
ASK Italian Chelmsford
ASK Italian Chelmsford, Unit 4H - Phase 2, Bond Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1GD
Tel: 01245 263 344