Within the Hospitality Industry one of the most difficult tasks that a company can be challenged with is the creation of a successful restaurant chain.

Creating a recognised brand that can be exactly transferred throughout the main cities and towns of the United Kingdom.

Many have tried more have failed to create both a recognizable brand as well as achieving the crucial requirement of a nationwide consistent product. The simpler the basic menu the greater it is to achieve. We discovered this issue when in the 1960’s and 70’s Berni Inns and then Schooner Inns were created.

The problem was that the customer soon knew exactly what a given dish should look like and taste of!

A missing item was soon spotted. Our solution was to have every dish photographed and have the photos displayed above all the ‘dispatch,’ sections in our branches.

This enabled the waiting staff to question if they spotted an item missing from a dish.

In those days quite a challenge. A branch would normally consist of at least three different restaurants. Steak, chicken and chips. Steak and duck or fish and steaks.

Included with all these main courses was a variety of Starters and Desserts, not forgetting  cheese and biscuits to include a glass of Port, at both lunchtime and dinner.

Yes, in those days lunch was a serious business. Many a well-known commercial deal has been ’signed off,’ over a Berni Inns lunch.

Over the next few Restaurant reviews I will enjoy dining in some of the National chain restaurants that we are lucky enough to have in Salisbury. Do join me and let me have your views.

Salisbury Journal: Prezzo, Salisbury High Street

Prezzo Italian restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in our city. Ideally located in the High Street end nearest to the entrance to the Cathedral Close. Incidentally, the largest one in Europe.

Upon entering Prezzo’s Salisbury we were assailed by the delightful evidence of happy staff enjoying their work.

Not always self-evident, and what is more the quality of the room staff did not flag, they were well trained and confident of their ability to both serve food, as well as to advise and describe all the dishes on the menu.

We were fortunate to be in the capable hands of Chelsea, however, the pace of service and clearing back and ordering of other dishes, was evidently being marshalled by all the waiting staff, it was a pleasure to be so well looked after, but with no fuss.

Starters. Price range £5.95 to £8.95

My guest chose the Prezzo Antipasto £9.95[ Scored 8 points] Described as a delicious selection of Italian cured sausages, prosciutto, fresh garlic bread and a salad, the portion was extremely generous and I enjoyed my share of this substantial dish. I was attracted to Crispy Fried Mozzarella with a golden brown breadcrumbed coating together with a spicey Colabrese ketchup, £7.95 [Scored 8 points]

Main Courses

Within a classic Italian Menu that includes a lovely selection of Pasta, Risotto, Salads and of course a range of Pizza dishes, as well as a variety of meat dishes; one is spoilt for choice. The best decision is to select what you would love to eat, at this moment. Then come back another day, like tomorrow!

 Price Range. £12.75p to £18.95

Di chose to eat oven-baked Sea Bass on a bed of roasted aubergines, peppers, with other roasted vegetables, olives, and a rocket salad. £18.50 [Scored 8 points]

Salisbury Journal: Oven baked Sea Bass on a bed of roasted aubergines, peppers, with other roasted vegetables, olives, and a rocket saladOven baked Sea Bass on a bed of roasted aubergines, peppers, with other roasted vegetables, olives, and a rocket salad (Image: Newsquest)

I chose the Spaghetti with Devon Crab and Chilli (£17.95). A generous portion of fresh chilli, parsley and garlic with a handful of peppery rocket. Great flavours, I scored this dish 7 points. 

It would have been higher, but it lacked moisture.  A splash of white wine, at the point of service would have helped.

Salisbury Journal: Spaghetti with Devon Crab and Chilli Spaghetti with Devon Crab and Chilli (Image: Newsquest)

Desserts Price range £5.25 to £7.95

I chose Prezzo’s, ‘Best ever Chocolate Cake.’ It might have been, but made with ground almonds the flavour was great, the texture heavy. The new baked Italian Orange Cheese Cake with Caramel was unctuous and a delight.

Salisbury Journal: Prezzo’s ‘Best ever Chocolate Cake'Prezzo’s ‘Best ever Chocolate Cake' (Image: Newsquest)

The Wine List.

We sampled the white Garvi [£10 a small glass] wine from Piemonte and a Sangiovese from Emilie Romagna excellent value for money [£8 a large glass.] Sangiovese grape is predominantly used in the making of Chianti in Tuscany.

A point for all the Salisbury Journal Readers to note, the Prezzo Wine List, is probably the finest short wine list, of any Restaurant Chain.

It has expertly sourced the grapes of more expensive classic wines and presents a well balanced choice to suit, all but the most fernickety at an affordable price. Well done Prezzo