I had finally booked a table at Padrino. The restaurant opened in October 2020 but after a few days a staff Covid case caused closure. Then came lockdown, bar service only, another lock down, limited outside menu, then difficulty getting a booking. Finally, on the last day of June, I sampled the food at Padrino Bar and Grill.
The name and menu have changed since I first tried to book; the name from Padrino Restaurant to Padrino Bar and Grill. Although there are lots of dishes that are not grilled, this seems appropriate. It is not a traditional restaurant, last food orders are 7.30pm, there are no starters, and desserts are limited. Many of the customers were not eating at all.
Padrino describes itself as ‘ local all-day dining’. At the moment there seems to be a steady stream of diners and drinkers throughout the afternoon. The outside area has been well designed, with parking on busy Austhorpe Road and tables located behind a screened-off area on the side street. The early evening sun was still on the outside benches when we arrived at 6.30pm, where most of the customers were outside enjoying the warm weather.
The menu was originally more extensive and eclectic, and food now focuses on burgers, salads, pizza and pasta. To my mind, this makes the offering more cohesive. There is a definite American-Italian vibe: the padded banquettes, pink neon sign, black and white photographs, could all belong to an upmarket New York diner. Until 4pm Italian and American influenced sandwiches are also served, and the American and Italian platters, available to share or for one, showcase these cuisines. A neighbouring table ordered the American platter, so I watched as a generous plank went past loaded with wings, mac n cheese balls, bbq ribs and southern fried chicken. A portion of fries arrived separately.
In order to sample both cultural influences, I ordered the wild mushroom fettuccine and my companion selected the barbecue pulled pork burger. I was surprised that there was no garlic bread or other bread listed on the side dishes, but the staff were happy to bring some good, lightly toasted bread to accompany my pasta.
The wild mushrooms came in three varieties. They had been cooked well, retaining firmness. The fettuccine was clearly homemade and again was just the right side of al dente. The cream sauce was rich and bursting with garlic. I was glad I had asked for bread to help me mop up the generous helping.
The barbecue sauce on the pulled pork burger was also generous, perhaps a little too generous. It did slightly overpower the meat, which was tender, moist and well shredded. Crunchy slaw, crispy fries and onion rings provided the side dishes.
Padrino’s is a family-run business, the word meaning Godfather in Italian. We were watched over by the image of Anthony Capitano, and it was easy to see how the, now departed, head of the family gained his nickname. The historic Italian images on the wall are designed to inspire, and watch over, the next generation.
As the restaurant was refurbished following the first Covid lockdown, ventilation is state of the art. This is reassuring in terms of infection reduction but also means that customers are not bombarded by aromas from other tables. The acoustics are also good. When I visited the building under its previous incarnation, as Slip’s, I enjoyed the food but found it noisy. The new layout and padded furniture has made the atmosphere more calm. The central feature is an attractive, brightly lit bar.
I stuck to wine and my companion to beer, but the bar was clearly doing a good trade in cocktails. This place seems to meet many needs: people stopped for a cocktail on the way somewhere else; a dog walker, on the way back from the nearby park, stopped for a pint outside; Couples enjoyed intimate meals and a group of six celebrated a birthday.
Service was generally good. The young waiting staff seemed keen to please, although I did have to remind them to bring me a glass of water, a common error in places where free items do not go through the till. I was also surprised to be given ground white pepper when I asked for pepper for my fresh pasta. On the other hand, food and drinks arrived quickly and with a smile.
The size of the mains meant we were cautious about desserts. We were offered a choice of chocolate brownie, lemon posset or crème brûlée. We settled on the brûlée to share. The dish was beautifully presented. My spoon made a satisfying crunch as it broke the caramel crust. Below was a perfectly smooth custard – a very enjoyable end to the meal.
Padrino Bar and Grill is at 55 Austhorpe Rd, Leeds LS15 8EQ Call them on 0113 260 3961 or book on Opentable.
Photographs by Debbie Rolls.