Hidden in plain sight on the high street of Cullompton, is a humble, idyllic and family-run Italian which feels like an Italian home from home right on your doorstep. As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted with smiling faces and made to feel welcome straight away.
Owner Rob is no stranger to working in the kitchen. He moved from the Highlands to the West Country where his mum and stepdad took on the running of the Merry Harriers in Cullompton. During his time in the Highlands he had worked and trained in a number of excellent restaurants before coming back home to work as the head chef in his family’s new restaurant here. In 2017, the opportunity to take on his own business arose so he could make his own mark on the town. Here he was able to bring together his experience and those family values and put them into his own establishment with his wife Michelle. This gives the restaurant a friendly feel and really adds to why Roberto’s is such a family orientated place to have dinner.
Being visually impaired my experience in a restaurant is very different to a sighted person. My memories of a certain place are built on what the atmosphere is like, how friendly the staff are and I use my other senses including smell and taste to get a well-rounded idea about my surroundings. As soon as I walked into Roberto’s, the sound of laughter and music filled the air which gave the place a tangible feeling of warmth and friendliness. The smell of freshly cooked pizza, homemade pasta and rich sauces made my mouth instantly water, and I was immediately transported to Italy. Although I can’t see what is happening around me, I felt instantly welcome.
Roberto’s has a huge variety of food on the menu to suit all budgets. Starter dishes are priced from £4, main dishes average between £12 – 14 and there are a variety of sides to choose from which start at £3. From pizza to pasta, and a variety of starters and antipasti, the menu also caters for many different needs including vegetarians and people with a gluten intolerance.
We had to ponder the menu for many minutes until we decided on what we wanted as there was just so much delicious food that we could have chosen. Rob believes the meals he serves should have the WOW factor. That is definitely what we got. In the end we ordered two pizzas, Four Cheese and Margherita, and two pasta dishes, Spaghetti Bolognese and Lasagne. I had the four cheese pizza and thoroughly enjoyed the different tastes and textures that I encountered. The bread base was light and crispy and the topping was packed full of flavour thanks to the cheese including cheddar, creamy ricotta, melty mozzarella and potent gorgonzola. The Margherita pizza, although simple, was just as stunning to taste and smell just like the four cheese pizza. Much care had been put into making the dish look beautiful and the aroma coming from the food was divine.
Similar to the pizzas, the pasta was just as spectacular. Each mouthful had its own unique taste and was enjoyed by all. The crowning glory of each pasta meal is the freshly made sauces. Each one is made to order which transformed the food and emphasised the freshness of Rob’s dishes.
We were completely stuffed by the end. However, Roberto’s does offer a wide range of puddings. These include chocolate brownie and a trio of ice-cream. The star of the puddings is the hot dough twirl of which you can choose either salted caramel or hot fudge cake wrapped in dough with a mascarpone cheese and smothered in sauces, cream and ice-cream. Say no more!
If you are unable to dine out, there is always the option to experience Roberto’s pizza and pasta in the comfort of your own home. The restaurant offers a delivery service so you can kick back and enjoy your evening with no stress.
Every last Thursday of the month Roberto’s also runs a themed evening. This is where you can indulge in the food of a particular region of Italy. These have included Sicilian and Calabrian cuisine – it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for the next culinary theme.
Birthday parties are also held in Roberto’s and are a great way to celebrate. Kids can design their own pizzas and milkshakes too – it really gets them involved and they have something to take away with them afterwards.
As I hope you can tell, nothing was too much for Rob and Michelle which made our time at Roberto’s memorable and we all agreed that we would certainly want to go back. Rob says, “we want to give all our customers, no matter what, the best possible experience and make them want to stay and enjoy the whole of their evening in an authentic way just like Italian people would.”
Molte grazie Rob, we’ll be back!
Find out more online at www.robertospizzeria.co.uk
This month’s restaurant feature was written by our work experience student, Rachel Wilson, from Cullompton Community College. Special thanks to Rob and Michelle from Roberto’s for working together with us on this!