An Italian restaurant with a difference has just opened up on the King’s Road and no one seems to be noticing it. Opening its doors around two months ago the restaurant serves Italian cuisine from the Abruzzo region in central Italy. Most widely known for its Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines, picturesque mountains and of course, its food.
To my knowledge it’s the first of its kind in London serving up food from this region, it’s nice to see a unique Italian menu, a far cry from the lasagne I’ve eaten a hundred times. Polpo is another good option for unique Italian cuisine in London; I have not been myself but have heard great things about it.
Walking in to the restaurant I was taken aback by the decor, very modern and elegant, you could tell they spent some time designing this place. Even the cutlery and glassware were excellent. It looked fantastic and I felt very at home, especially considering the wine list starts at £15 a bottle. Some bread was brought to our table to start and was a very mediocre baguette, along with some unexciting olives.
For starters you’re spoilt for choice with such an intriguing selection of dishes, mostly all containing cheese. First up was the Pallotte cac’ e ‘ove, meatballs made with eggs and sheep’s cheese in a rich tomato sauce. The sheep's cheese which was relatively mild gave the balls a lovely moist texture while the acidity of the tomato sauce brought it all together, the only problem was, I wanted more!
For the next starter we opted for, you guessed it, more cheese. Formaggio Primo sale alla piastra, grilled Abruzzo Scarmoza cheese with tomato, garlic and oregano. A nice dish, seasoned beautifully, but there wasn't a lot of skill needed to put the plate together. Not sure I would order this dish again, it didn't really blow me away. Also, I ate it before I took a photo, whoops!
It’s the first time I have come across arrosticini, a sort of grilled meat kebab would be the easiest way to describe it, but in reality it’s much different than that. Cooked on a special device which rotates the meat skewers around over wood charcoal, infusing the equally chopped morsels of lamb with a lovely smokiness. Equal quantities of fat are kept on the meat to keep it juicy and tender. They also give the lamb a generous helping of salt. This is a tasty dish which is also great fun to eat.
Chitarra al ragu was next out. Handmade Abruzzo egg spaghetti in a rich ragu sauce. A relatively simple dish on paper, but it’s so hard to get it right without it becoming boring and repetitive from Italian to Italian restaurant. Here they have used extremely good quality and well made, fresh pasta. In a rich sauce that hadn’t been drench in pecorino and the acidity was well balanced, sometimes I find the tomatoes can be undercooked leaving the dish to taste a bit acidic. A good solid dish.
Tagliatelle alla chitarra tartufo e funghi, which is Handmade Abruzzi egg tagliatelle with mushrooms and black truffle. The handmade pasta was again, excellent and the black truffle really came through, complimenting the mushroom nicely. I must mention that all the portion sizes throughout our meal were very generous, that’s Italian generosity for you I guess!
We also ordered a side of turnip tops with beans which came in a lovely broth and plenty of olive oil, seasoned beautifully. My only complaint was that arrived at the table a little cold and had to be eaten very quickly.
We followed the meal with a classic tiramisu. This version adds a generous helping of red berries, which unfortunately do not go well and their tartness and spoils the dessert. The tiramisu itself was nice but quite tame and holding back on big flavour, pleasant enough to satisfy my endless sweet craving though.
If you’re looking for Italian food in London which is slightly less cliché then a lot of others restaurants, top quality modern deco, excellent wines and some outstanding service then look no further. Its current downfall is not being busy enough so forgive it for the time being if lacking in atmosphere.