Bold punchy flavours, authentic Italian ingredients and first-class service are not what you might expect when you dine at an established chain restaurant.
The new ASK Italian in central Leeds breaks the mould and sets standards high.
Jamie Oliver should take note.
Arriving at ASK Italian Leeds, on a relatively busy night considering it was only their second week of trade, we were swiftly seated and enjoying complimentary shots. These were closely followed by our pre-meal cocktail order, of which I can highly recommend their rich and boozy take on the classic Negroni. This place was after my heart already.
To start with
Unsure what to choose for starters, we went with the Antipasto Classico sharing platter (see main image above), which was faultless from top to bottom. The peppery Milano salami was a highlight, and the fresh, fluffy mozzarella cheese was one of the best I’ve tried. The olive tapenade and smoked chilli jelly too, were just perfect with the toasty rosemary and sea salt bread.
With the exception of a handful of salads and tasty sounding chicken, pork and fish dishes, the main menu is largely made up of an expansive pasta selection and artisan pizzas with toppings ranging from traditional to a little more ambitious.
The Main Event
After much debate, I went with the Aragosta E Gamberoni from the Pasta Fresca section. Blessed with lobster, king prawns and chillies in a creamy tomato sauce, the dish is topped with a large shell-on king prawn. The fresh tagliatelle was delicious, and whilst this only mildly spiced, the combination of the sauce, lobster and plump juicy prawns proved to be a bona-fide flavour bomb.
The Pollo Piccante Con Pancetta stone-baked pizza was equally impressive, with the tender chicken and crisp pancetta complemented with roasted peppers, red chillies, spinach, rosemary and fontal cheese.
If you’ve got something of a sweet tooth, then you must reserve space for dessert at ASK Italian Leeds. I can usually take it or leave it, preferring to gorge and feast on savoury dishes, but the White Chocolate Swirl contained too many of my favourite things to pass on.
Consisting of a smooth, silky white chocolate and almond mousse, perched upon a bed of crushed pistachio nuts and strawberries, and topped with blood orange sauce, it’s a dramatic dessert that tastes as good as it looks on Instagram
We ended the evening at ASK Italian Leeds with some darn fine espresso shots and left thinking that other chains should take a leaf out of the Ask Italian book.
20 – 22 Lands Lane, Leeds LS1 6LB
Tel: 01133 183 039
Written by Jordan ‘Fletch’ Fletcher