A hotspot for upmarket Italian dining: Gino D’Acampo Restaurant and Bar

It’s one of those blustery, ‘shouldn’t-it-be-summer-already?’ evenings in late April, and I’m heading into the centre of Leeds to see what the fuss around Gino D’Acampo’s new opening is all about.

With just a few weeks of service behind it, Gino’s brand-new Italian restaurant is part of the Marriott on Boar Lane and boasts a sprawling interior with room for up to 160 diners.

Arancino and Aperol

Thanks to a menu promising a balance between classic dishes and ingredient provenance, and an interior oozing with self-conscious swankiness, this place has all the hallmarks of an evening to remember. We grab an Aperol spritz in the glass-fronted bar while we wait for our table. The menu offers a comprehensive selection of aperitivi, so whether you’re after a Bellini, Negroni or classic Campari spritz, you’ll find something to zing those tastebuds.

Atmosphere wise, the bar’s a bit odd – low tables make you feel slightly marooned amid a sea of standing drinkers and bustling staff. But luckily, canapés arrive to sweeten the deal, and we sample three of Gino’s antipasti dishes in miniature form. First up, it’s bruschetta topped with Parma ham, ‘nduja, honey and pistachio (genius), followed by mini mushroom arancini (a little lacking in nuance, but nice) and then more bruschetta, this time topped with king prawns. They’re lovely, safe yet enjoyable bites that do the job of getting us buzzed for the main event.

Bruschetta with Parma Ham

When the time comes, we take our seats in the other half of the restaurant. White cloths and shaded lamps on each table kind of offset the stylishness of the whole thing, but make for a quirky vibe all the same. Parking ourselves on plush orange chairs and watching the action at the open pizza station behind us, we peruse the menu.

Gamberoni Fritti

Up front, there’s a decent selection of starters, plus a couple of carpaccio and tartare dishes. The rest of the menu offers salads, pasta, risotto, pizza, fish, meat and sides. There’s a lot of choice, with all your standard ‘I’m-eating-at-an-Italian-restaurant’ essentials covered and nothing too out there attempted. We order Gamberoni Fritti and Burrata, along with a bottle of the house red. There seem to be about a hundred waiting staff milling about, but catching someone’s attention remains difficult throughout the meal.


Our antipasti are the best dishes of the evening. Prawns are tender and juicy, with slices of battered courgette for freshness and a spicy mayo for, well, dipping. The Burrata is everything it should be – creamy, smooth and just slightly tangy – and the tomatoes surrounding it are bursting with sweetness. Top marks Signor D’Acampo. So far, so tasty.


We wait quite a while for our mains, asking several times for water as we do. My partner’s is a 300g ribeye with French fries and peppercorn sauce, which arrives cooked just as requested and hitting all the boxes for a decent steak. We suspect the fries were probably once frozen, but apart from that it’s a winner.

Linguine all’Aragosta

My dish, ‘Linguine all’Aragosta’ (a dish advertised to comprise half a lobster with tomato sauce and the aforementioned string-like pasta), is a different story. It arrives topped with half a lobster tail shell, which after brief inspection appears to be empty. I rummage around (with my fork, I hasten to add) for the lobster, and am crestfallen only to find four king prawns in its place. Now feels a pertinent time to point out that this dish retails for a whopping £32. I call the waiter over, who asks me to dig further around for the lobster. When it refuses to appear, he agrees to whip up another plate for me.

I watch my partner tuck into his steak and sample our sides (Tenderstem broccoletti with pecorino and garlic spinach) while I wait. They’re simple and fresh but nothing special. My second lobster linguine comes with another empty shell atop it, although this time there are a few (maybe five?) small chunks of lobster nestling in the folds of pasta. It’s disappointing to say the least, especially given the price point, and even parmesan struggles to make the sauce taste interesting.


Mains done with, we decide to top it off with a tiramisu. It takes a while, and it’s almost 10pm before we’re tucking in – having arrived at the restaurant before seven, it’s been a long evening. The tiramisu is delicious – a resplendent slab of creamy, boozy loveliness that leaves us utterly defeated. We finish our wine, take one more look around the restaurant, whose Thursday night diners and high-decibel soundtrack have boosted the volume to almost overwhelming levels, and take our leave.

Pizza station

I’ve no doubt that this latest edition of Gino D’Acampo’s Italian dining empire will do well. It has the central location, the glitzy feel and the classic Italian vibes to make it a hotspot for upmarket dining in the City Centre.

Photography by Kate Ryrie.

8 Boar Lane Leeds
0113 468 0804
Opening times: 6.30 a.m. until 2 a.m. seven days (breakfast 6.30 a.m. until 10.30 a.m.)

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