Balzano's has been transformed. It's still a great Italian deli, just the place for a few slices of prosciutto for lunch or a panettone for Christmas. The main counter is crammed with salumi, cheeses and various sweet confections; elsewhere, you can pick up some own-brand honey or jam, or wander past yards (metres?) of variously shaped and coloured pasta; shelves overflow with amaretti biscuits, wine and other Italian specialities. What more could anyone want?
Well, these days, the answer to that is clear the second you walk in. The back of the deli has been knocked through to extend into a light and airy cafe; there is a courtyard to one side as well for the sunnier days of summer. Food shopping has suddenly got a lot more relaxing.
Dropping by for some lasagne sheets, we are drawn in by this bright, new space with its elegant wallpaper and attractive globe light fittings. Seduced by the ambiance and the smells of good things cooking, we settle at one of the scrubbed pine tables and share an artfully constructed yellow and red pepper tart. The coffee is good too.
And now Balzano's been transformed again, if only temporarily: it proves to be the perfect setting for the recent inaugural meeting of the Plate Lickers Supper Club, Jo (Afternoon Tease) and Ivana (Missigs)'s Polish and Bosnian five-courser. Interestingly unusual food (such as Chestnut with Speck Soup and Polish Pierogi) is served up in a great space, and the supper club is graced by Becky and Rocco Balzano themselves. Exciting times on Cherry Hinton Road.