Dorchester is currently being transformed with a huge amount of development in and around the town centre; new shops, cinemas and restaurants are all being built. One of these developments is on the site of the old Eldridge Pope Brewery and already there is a new cinema and the first of several restaurants Carluccio’s Italian has opened.

The first “Carluccio’s Caffè” was opened in 1999 Market Place, London by well known Italian Chef Antonio Carluccio and now has restaurants in over 57 location. This was my first experience in a Carluccio’s and I was interested in comparing this with Jamie’s Italian in Clifton, Bristol. (read Bristol Foodie’s review of Jamie’s Italian)

We heard that they had been fully booked all over the Christmas period, so we decided to book a table using their online form, but we had problems and ended up telephoning to ensure it had worked!!

Table booked and parking is easy now with the main Market car park opposite, which is free after 18:00. We were shown to the table by very polite staff who were all dressed very smartly and were excellent throughout the nights service.

The interior is bright & typically Italian but with many of the old brewery features still evident, it also has a food shopping area that sells everything you need to create your own Italian feast. There is plenty of seating outside ready for those balmy summer evenings.

The menu is extensive with plenty of specials to choose with prices that don’t scare you: While we were choosing our food the drinks were sorted and olives & bread appeared. We chose a variety of starters crostino topped with seasonal mushrooms, chilli oil and garlic; bruschetta and calamari.

All the dishes were bursting with fresh flavours, all using simple and fresh ingredients. My mushrooms had a good sprinkling of chilli and were delicious. It was advertised as seasonal mushrooms, I was expecting a nice variety of ‘wild’ mushrooms, so a little disappointed to have only button mushrooms.

The restaurant was now completely full with a great atmosphere. Mains arrived and were as equally delicious as the starters. My tortelloni stuffed with venison was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it with a bowl of green salad. I don’t recall any complaints from my fellow diners about any of the main courses, but I would advise you to ask what exactly each main consists of, because you could end up with just a bowl of pasta. Adding an extra side dish of green salad or vegetables could make all the difference.

The range of desserts looked very tempting, but we were full and sat and chatted enjoying the whole experience.

Now which is better Carluccio’s or Jamie’s Italian? Well I enjoyed my meal experience at Carluccio’s a whole lot better than Jamie’s, which seemed very rushed and a little pretentious. Carluccio’s food is more authentically Italian food, but Jamie’s has larger range of his own Italian inspired dishes and are all made in house. But I will return to Carluccio’s Dorchester for sure for their no nonsense Italian food. Yes I know they are a chain & source the majority of their produce from Italy, but it is a great addition to Dorchester’s culinary menu (I’m not so sure about Nando’s & Pizza Express!!!)

One Dray Horse Yard

t: 01305 251 674


Review Disclosures
Invited by PR company? No
Guest of chef/restaurant/owner? No
Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers? No
Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant? No
Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet? No
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