Old Welwyn village has a good choice of independent restaurants and cafes for its size. I had heard good things about Italian restaurant Aqua on the High Street, so took an Italian friend along for lunch last week.
I liked the friendly welcome when I rang to book, and it was a good job I did as the restaurant was almost full on Friday lunchtime, with quite a few small groups. There is a small village car park next door, and this gives you the best view of the restaurant which overlooks the river to the side; it is a shame that the restaurant isn’t able to make more of its location as you actually enter from the road at the front. Painted in greys and purples, we found the restaurant quite gloomy for a lunchtime and I think it would suit an evening more.
A board outside advertised a lunch offer of pizza, pasta, salad or sandwich and a drink for 10.20; it would be helpful to have this on a specials menu inside too as we were given the main menu and were not sure what the lunch deal included. We wanted to try one of the anti pasti, which included a large ball of mozzarella, red pepper dip, aubergine dip and a delicious chunky caponata. It was all lovely; my friend really liked the mozzarella, and it was enough to share between two of us. My friend was able to chat in Italian to the waiter and ask questions about the main courses, and she chose a Quattro Stagioni (four seasons) with mushrooms, goats cheese, aubergine and pepperoni for us to share, with a rocket salad. The pizza was served fresh from the pizza oven that you can see in the open kitchen, but it wasn’t the best pizza – the base was chewy rather than crispy and the aubergine and mushrooms weren’t cooked enough. The pasta and fish dishes going past for nearby tables looked much more appealing, and certainly generous in size.
Service slowed down while we were there and we waited a while to pay our bill; it was busy in the restaurant but for lunchtime, when many people need to get back to work, this could be improved. Aqua is a busy and popular local restaurant, and with more attention to detail could be great.