York is a favourite place for visiting during the holidays. Whether its  a day out to soak up some history and culture, some retail therapy at the shops, boutiques and Christmas markets or just to get the Christmas spirit  walking in its old fashioned Dickensian streets.

The city has many eateries of the highest order but  Ask Italian in the newly renovated ancient Grand Assembly Rooms, combines  good food with an historic ambience.

The minutes you walk in the Grand Assembly Rooms, where the judges at the courts used to robe,  you feel completely over-awed by the place – with its marble pillars and beautiful ceiling. The renovation of this listed building has been carefully and tastefully done and the eclectic mix of modern furnishings blends beautifully.

After being greeted with a welcoming craft lemonade I opted for one of their new cocktails Peach V&T. It’s a long drink cocktail and is a crisp mix of craft vodka, peach schnapps and tonic and  beautifully presented with an edible flower.

Whilst we looked at the menu we nibbled on Cheese Fonduta with warm dough sticks. This rich cheese dip had a strong flavour and was really smooth and delicious. My partner munched on the Garlic Bread Specialse with the Purple Basil Pesto. The garlic bread was folded and stuffed with two cheeses it was tasty and the bread was slightly crispy.

We decided to share a starter as portions at Ask Italian are more than generous. Again we opted for one of the new menu dishes Pumpkin Arancini, crispy risotto and pumpkin balls with a spicy tomato dip. This dish was quite hot and spicy when it finally arrived, as confusion reigned when we were presented with another customers main course and it took an age to finally get our starter right and delivered to our table.

My choice for main course could not have looked prettier when It arrived or tasted better. Another new dish to the menu the Spinach & Ricotta Girasole consisted of  sunflower shaped parcels with spinach and mascarpone cream sauce. The pasta was tasty and cooked to perfection and the filling had a real flavour so unusual sometimes with pasta parcels.

Having lived in Italy my partner is always critical of pizzas in the UK. However he was pleased with Salami Misti ,declaring it to be a good pizza. It was not too thick and not too doughy with a plentiful array of meats. The roasted peppers and caramelized onions certainly gave it a flavoursome kick.

Ask Italian have a tempting dessert menu and I was wooed by the Melting Eton Mess Tower’s description – a dark chocolate tower, filled with strawberries cream and meringue, melted by a hot berry coulis poured over the top. Mm sounded absolutely fantastic – but it was  disappointing when it arrived with a slim tube like piece of chocolate with very few tiny pieces of strawberry,  a rather chalky meringue piece stuck on the plate and melted vanilla gelato yet cold hot berry coulis.

My partner did much better with his gelato from the menu which was bursting with flavour and beautifully presented.

Ask Italian at the Grand Assembly Rooms gives a chance to dine in  wonderful surroundings. The marbled pillars are a great back drop for the Italian food. It’s the type of place where you can take the kids for lunch, have a pre-theatre meal or a cosy intimate dinner for two and it will feel just right.

Ask Italian, The Grand Assembly Rooms, Blake Street, York.

Open Friday and Saturday –; Sunday through to Thursdays – 10pm.

Tel: 01904 637254

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