Deep inside your brain there’s a little algorithm that starts computing every time you go into a restaurant. It’s an equation that adds food to value, multiplies service over atmosphere, and divides by consistency.

You don’t realise you’re crunching the numbers til you’re paying the bill – and your onboard computer delivers its verdict: yes, we’ll be back. No, you’re having a laugh.

It’s a formula that leaves many restaurants wanting.

It had been a busy Saturday. A lacklustre lunch at Lunya (the second in a row) left us £60 lighter and still hungry. Three tapas each, a beer, and that sinking feeling that comes when you know the kitchen just isn’t on it that day.

Here’s the thing about the Italian Club: do the math and, every time, the numbers balance perfectly.

It’s nine o’clock on Pride Saturday and the Italian Club is as convivial, welcoming and buzzy as ever. If it’s been frantic all day you’d never know it. Waiting staff whisk us to our table, crack open the Morettis and talk us through the specials. Before you can say ‘when’s your Dolmio day’ we’re relaxed, cocooned, and wondering why the hell we don’t come here more often.

Democratic, family friendly and fuss-free, The Italian Club doesn’t beg to be your friend on Facebook. It doesn’t try to distract you with with elaborate, glass-finned statement bars, and, to our knowledge, has never once begged us to come for a nudge-nudge PR tasting event.

The Italian Club just gets on with the business of cooking hearty, wholesome and authentic Anglo-Italian fare. And now it’s open til 10pm most nights, it’s doing it more often, to more people. But still, it doesn’t like to make a fuss. And that’s partly why we love it.

But mostly, it’s the food.

A tinglingly fresh Insalata Caprise (£5.95) came with a snowball-sized dollop of creamy mozzarella, sliced and perfectly salted tomatoes and nutty Italian olive oil. The Antipasto Misto ‘Italian Club’ (£7.95) offered meats, creamy potato and veg salads, and slithers of char-grilled aubergene. If we leave now, I thought, it would already leave Lunya standing.

The Italian Club is the creation of Italian-via-Scotland’s Crolla family, hailing from the village of Picinisco, in the Apennine mountains. And we’re lucky to have them here, because they’re doing everything right – as they are up the road, at Fish.

The restaurant’s beech-wood flooring, deli counter and gold leaf-edged barrel vaulted extension offers around 40 covers, generously spaced, with vibrant Italian maps and Adriatic scenes splashing the walls with colour.

Its menu is reassuringly brief – burgers, (excellent) pizzas and paninis make for a great lunch. In the evenings the selection expands to include daily specials – lemon chicken, roast chicken, ossobuco.

I was in a meat loaf state of mind, and nabbed the last portion. Well, that’s what I was told. I’m fairly sure I got a portion for a family of four. But could I fit two beef fists in? Well, dear readers, I gave it my best shot.

Perfectly seasoned ground beef, spinach leaves and, possibly, a hint of parmesan, coated with tangy tomato sauce, a generous side of rosemary-infused roast potatoes and a bouncy-castle of salad. For under a tenner? Ridiculous, frankly.

The chicken cacciatore was equally stupid. Succulent, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a bursting-with-flavour tomato and olive sauce, a lunch-box of salad and a handbag’s worth of roast spuds. Comfort food at its most comfortable. And for less than the price of two measly tapas.

Is it the most accomplished cooking in town? Of course not. Is that your primary concern when you opt to eat out? What do you think?

These days, everyone’s desperate to tell you they’re an expert. Everyone’s only too keen to show you their credentials. Every new restaurant promises ‘out of this world’ food in a ‘no-expense spared’ experience. We had an invite to a new one this week, Holdi in Woolton. And we got the photos from its launch (pic r). A star studded crowd including ‘footballers’ wives, Hollyoaks stars and Desperate Scousewives’ attended. Our bouche wasn’t amuse.

We’ll no doubt go down in a bit – it might be fantastic. But here’s our recipe for success. You don’t need an app. You don’t need a networking event. Just get your head down and cook, will yer.

After a reassuringly on-the-money bowl of ice cream and another beer we got the bill – £54. That equation? It stacked up beautifully.

The Italian Club? It says it best when it says nothing at all.

The Italian Club
85 Bold Street
Liverpool

  • Claire

    Although i did enjoy the food at the Italian club its pretty normal deli style food and nothing incredible. I think there are other places in Lpool that are on a parr with them such as deli fonseca, San Carlos.

    i was also violently ill after eating a seafood pasta dish at their sister restaurant The fish club 🙁 which has put me off slightly…

  • http://www.markmcnulty.co.uk Mark McNulty

    Agreed! I love the Italian Club!

  • Daniel

    Has been one of my favourites for years, but last time I was there (early June), long lunch, the service was appalling. The staff member serving us answered their mobile phone whilst at our table, counted out the money at the table before going to the till, and failed to bring the change until we asked.

    That, granted, is the only time I’ve ever had bad service there, and I’d never seen that member of staff before, but I haven’t been back.

  • Jayne Moore

    I love it too – I craved the lasagne when I was pregnant! I love that it is what it is – authentic Italian like mamma would cook!

    If I had an Italian Mamma that is!

  • ninjah

    I think the food has gone down hill a bit since it first opened… went not so long ago and found the food mediocre to other italian food i have had elsewhere… nice place tho and pleasant staff.

  • ste slater

    Was dissapointed by the lasagne. Just cheese. For decent pasta i go over the road and up the stairs to the italian place behind the hairdressers. Been going for years and dont know the name!

  • http://RopeWalks RopeWalks Liverpool

    Well done to all the team at the Italian Club! A superb win, brilliant!

    – Chris – RopeWalks.

  • Vicky

    I love the Italian Club – only snooty people think the staff aren’t up to scratch too. I find it like having lunch or dinner at a friend’s house – you wouldn’t expect your friend to bow and scrape to you and you don’t get that here.

    We always get our food served with a smile, a joke or an amusing anecdote. They don’t ask you every five minutes if your meal is ok and nor do they hard sell the desserts (which are home made and speak for themselves.)

    You want bog standard food, go to Bella Italia and leave us Italian Clubbers alone. First rule of Italian Club? Don’t talk about Italian Club, cos people you don’t want to go there, will go and whinge about it.

    San Carlo? Yeah… if you like abusing your credit card. Dinner for two that’ll keep you full forever plus drinks for £30? Italian Club please!!

  • Doug.

    If it’s Italian you’re after, Villa Romana rarely fails and it’s great if you have little kids too. A truly Italian welcome for all. San Carlos is my absolute favourite and for a special night out, it has it all. Even the WAGs… One thing about your pics of the food, you could make them a little more appealing to suit the write up 😉

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    You’re right Doug – apologies about that.

  • Web Dude

    Decent little place, nice warm atmosphere and nice food. Best of all its cheap! They need to update their website though, its all in flash so cant be seen when browsing on your phone. Also when you click ‘offers’ on the site it opens a pdf that is nothing more than a word document with some dodgy clip art embedded in it YUK! Think they need to talk to a designer to have a better template made for them. People forget your website is an online shop window for your business, these details matter!

  • SB loves American Pizza Slice.

    The Best Pizza In Liverpool?

    However 🙁 my last order was dissappointing – there was too much cheese which made the base too gooey, gunky, squidgy and fatty.

    Still need to GoTo: TriBeCa.

  • http://ramseycampbell.com Ramsey Campbell

    “…gooey, gunky, squidgy and fatty…”

    Weren’t they four of the Seven Dwarfs in the sneak preview version?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown

    Haha!

  • John Partington

    What about the 2 Christakis venues?? – wwww.christakisgreekrestaurant.co.uk