Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Resto 23 Firebrand Pizza, Lisson Grove

August 4, 2018

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in Lisson Grove for a rather underwhelming production of Medea we wanted quick eats out of the sun. Firebrand Pizza looked a good bet.

It’s a shady room with a big window to watch the folks of the Grove go by. The menu is standard pizza and starters so went for a platter of meat up front followed by pizza and a side salad.

The meats were superior fare, even the mortadella (which can often be a bit spammy) pitching in with some smoky flavour. The pizza was good without being wow. A bottle of Sicilian white on the side helped it down.

The service was excellent from two friendly waitresses and at under £30 a head all in it was pretty good value. Worth going to if you’re in the area.

7/10

#Food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Resto 18 Bufala di Londra

June 11, 2018

As any Haringey resident who’s had dealings with the council over arranging a parking permit would testify it is the simple things that are often the most difficult to get right. Similarly, the preparation of a decent pizza and salad would seem to be a task that is beyond some restaurants. Fortunately Bufala di Londra doesn’t fall into that category. In fact on the food side of things it nearly hits Paesano level heights.

Being ravenous helps – after an afternoon of intense theatrical discussion I needed something filling and I’d had my eye on Bufala for some time. The room was fairly quiet on a Sunday teatime but plenty of pizza was going out the door for takeaway, an encouraging sign.

The menu is simple – classic pizzas with no gimmicky ingredients, just high quality Italian produce. I noted that they fermented their dough for 72 hours and started slavering in anticipation. The wine list is strong but with only house white (or red) by the glass. But that doesn’t matter if it’s a good straw coloured Sicilian with plenty of oomph. Some juicy Nocellara olives while we waited was a good idea.

I had a pizza with mushroom, truffle salami and chilli. And it was good. Such chewy dough that would have been a treat on its own without the addition of high quality mozzarella and deliciously bosky mushrooms. The rocket and parmesan salad on the side was big enough to share between two. I’m getting hungry all over again just thinking about it and I’ve only just eaten lunch.

With friendly, efficient service and a good table in the window the only way this meal could have been improved was if the restaurant was at the end of my street rather than being on the wrong side of the tracks.

9/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 10 Radici, Islington

March 21, 2018

In Islington for a production of Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke at the Almeida we were looking for something quick before showtime. The bar at the A being packed Radici directly opposite the theatre seemed a good option.

Radici does Italian and while the modern/modernist room doesn’t scream italia the bambina they’ve employed to bowl around in a charming fashion certainly gave the place a homely feel.

We were in a hurry but we were also starving so couldn’t avoid ordering a couple of cichetti to warm up. The test of an Italian for me is often the state of their calamari. Radici’s was excellent, putting to shame the filthy greasy stuff served up at Prezzo. This calamari was of the tentacular variety with fluffy batter and a mean (in a good way) squid ink mayonnaise. I wanted them all to myself. As I did also the aubergine, smoky and luscious, that was on the other plate. Unfortunately marital bliss doesn’t usually ride on the back of one side of the deal scoffing all the grub so I grudgingly moderated my intake.

A main of pizza was a good choice for the hungry and the pizza was too big for me to consume in the time available. Zucchini fritti were as good as the calamari, being straw-choppped and light as a feather. Booze of a Trebbiano variety likewise had to be wolfed down as showtime approached but being delicious I was happy to do that thing.

We were in unison in thinking that we must go back as soon as we can to eat at leisure and check out the desserts. With excellent service (especially the waiter giving us a reminder that we would have to leave soon at just the right time) Radici works very well.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 9 Polpo, Covent Garden

March 11, 2018

Odd that I should never have been in Polpo before and this omission was rectified for a birthday celebration prior to Macbeth at the National. After some table shenanigans (we were moved twice) we settled in to look at a particularly appealing menu. Polpo bills itself as small plates so I asked the waiter how many we should order between two. He was of the opinion that if we were five at table we should order five dishes. Which seemed a bit cryptic.

So we used our own judgement. While we worked out what we were having we supped on Bellinis (decent, if not outstanding) and grazed appetisers of olives and smoky nuts. As far as I could see a tagliatelle was good enough for me and we decided to share a salad of courgette and basil. The tagliatelle was excellent – plenty of deep flavoured sauce with good lumps of flaky chicken and mushrooms. I couldn’t resist snaffling a slither of venison meat ball from across the way and that too was top drawer. But the star was the salad! Thinly sliced raw courgette in a yummy dressing.

There’s such a selection of wine that it was very difficult to pick something out. A carafe of 50cl of Soave (we thought we’d stick to the Veneto) went down very well. After a shaky start service improved drastically and a nice touch was a sprig of mimosa brought by the management for the lady in our party to celebrate International Women’s Day. I could do without the tastefully distressed faux authentic trimmings in the room but with superb food and booze coming in at under thirty quid a head I can see why the Polpo CG was packed even at teatime on a Thursday. Likely I’ll be back too.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 4 La Giaconda, Hornsey

February 6, 2018

Hornsey is an area on the up. Developments in and around the New River water treatment plants mean that the High Street is starting to lose its bleakness and gain a level of spangle that will be welcomed by some but strike dismay into others. Pubwise there’s still plenty of pleasant grot to be had but you can also pay £6 a pint if you’re looking for somewhere more upmarket.

So La Giaconda, which predates the March of the Estate Agents, is in an interesting position. Do they make a bid for the new market, or do they stand on their trad Italian values? At the moment it’s the latter.

It being early evening on a cold Sunday there were few customers other than for the takeaway side of the business so we had the pick of the tables. We had for company a guy in a Napoli tracksuit top who muttered ‘Cazzo!’ every time someone went out without shutting the door (it was a very cold draught), which I found lent a welcome layer of authenticity to the atmosphere.

Mixed antipasti up front was very good, plenty of cold stuff with some especially good mozzarella. To be frank the wine (a Trebbiano) was ropey, if not lethally so. Star of the show was a grilled sea bass across the way. My diavolo pizza delivered the required heat and had a good base. They were also happy to make a green salad up for me, which is a plus. The waiter was a charming feller though it was clear that at slow times like this the kitchen is more focussed on satisfying phone orders rather than those in the room. But we weren’t in a hurry so I wasn’t fussed.

The mystery was how they could have made such hideous coffee! It was simply the worst coffee I’ve ever had in an Italian but in an indescribable way. It looked like coffee, and even smelt like coffee. But it tasted like filth. Which is why I knocked a further mark off. My wife, who didn’t have coffee, would’ve awarded a 7.

#food #London

6/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 45 Ristorante Villa 600, Torcello

August 20, 2017

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We were in Torcello on the recommendation of a friend to see the churches. Torcello Cathedral, pictured below, is quite easily the greatest work of art that I saw during our stay in Venice. Outside it’s a great barn of a thing that is an extraordinary sight in modern times as you approach the island. Imagine what impact it would have had in the eleventh century.

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Torcello Cathedral, a maginicent sight.

If you think the outside is extraordinary wait till you go through the door (sadly something that few tourists manage owing to the extortionate 5 euros entry fee.). Above the door a three storey high mosaic of the Day of Judgement, complete with a bonk eyed devil ordering the consumption of identifiable rotters by various fabulous beasts and demons while the saved polish their nails on the other side and go, ‘Good riddance.’ Above the altar Christ in Majesty and the Apostles and Saints ranged in equally spectacular glory. Utterly breathtaking. And then a troop up the bell tower for a great vista of the Venetian marshes which gives you a perspective on the isolation of the founding community when it came here in the (not so) Dark Ages. All that culture made me hungrythirsty.

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The Devil.

My friend had also recommended a restaurant, the Locanda, but it was shut owing to it being Assumption Day. Fortunately Villa 600 was open across the way and although they seemed reluctant to take on extra diners at first (I’m guessing the staff wanted to get along to the festival at some point, we’d seen a bunch of musicians arriving all day on the boat) the waiter kindly gave us a splendidly appointed table in their shady garden. The rest of the clientèle was mostly Italian, a good sign.

We four ate like kings. First up we shared a mixed seafood antipasti. When we ordered one only he did seem a little crestfallen and when it arrived we found out why. A prawn, no matter how king-sized it is, is not easily quartered. We should have got a couple of platters. However, we managed, and sloshed a bottle of Pinot Grigio as we did so.

For main the turbot was a magnificent thing, a big chunk of fishmeat cooked to perfection with courgette crisped and a bean sauce. Nay stodge but we were loading on bread so that was okay. The mixed salad was a dress your own affair and all the better for that. I sprinkled a bit of balsamic, olive oil and pepper on that and it was good.

A second bottle was near termination by now and we were in an expansive mood. Yes, we would like dessert, we very much would. Sorbets with liqueur seemed a winner. I plumped for the pistachio. It was like the ice cream soup of your dreams, staring up at me like a crocodile’s eye. I wanted to linger over it but it tasted too good, I wolfed it down greedily.

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Pistachio sorbet. Looks like a crocodile, tastes like heaven.

By this point I was glad I’d been for a run in the morning. Coffee next. Proper espresso. And what about grappa? When the waiter said they had two kinds of home made grappa it seemed rude not to take an option on both of them so we did that. One was golden and slightly briny, smooth like a real tequila. The other was white and flavoured with rosemary from their own herb garden. I supped and tried to decide which was the better. They were both good.

It was a treat, and at €50 a head objectively it wasn’t cheap. But it was the kind of meal that was not just a highlight of this holiday but of holidays for years to come and I didn’t begrudge giving a decent tip. We got back on the boat to visit the hell that is Burano before making an inspired decision to decamp to Mazzorbo for a glass of wine at the Venissa Ristorante. Also recommended. Go to Torcello, it really is worth the hour long boat ride.

9/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 44 Hostario All’Ombra, Venice

August 19, 2017
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Apologies for the blurry shot, it was taken during a morning jog.

Famished after a hard day’s art-looking we couldn’t get a table at the three places nearest our hotel so we had to widen our scope to a more touristy part of Venice, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. This is a proper high street with shops and restaurants intermingled and we just plumped for the closest on Hostario All’Ombra.

Don’t let the picture fool you, it looks a lot more glamorous in the evening when they have shutters up and plenty of tables out on the street for you to watch the world go by. The menu is a standard selection of Italian fare with. I made a mistake by going for pizza. Theirs wasn’t a patch on Vecia Gina’s, it was bland and doughy with a scarcity of topping. Fellow diners who’d opted for liver and squid ink pasta respectively were far more satisfied though so I guess my tip would be to stick to trad Venitian fare rather than the Neapolitan pizza.

The service was idiosyncratic I’d say … the manager (I assume) gave us a burst of dialect Venetian in what could have been a rather unnerving way but wasn’t. Otherwise the wine was pretty good for the price and there are worse places to go on this street. We had a villanous set of drinks in Bar Cin Cin up the road that rather improbably nearly put me off booze for life.

7/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

#food #Venice

Resto 42 Vecia Gina, Venice

August 15, 2017

Dog tired and hungry after a day of travel we were looking for good, simple food within staggering distance of our digs. And we found it at Vecia Gina.

A terrace from where we could watch the local kids play football was where we sat under a crepuscular sky. We went big on the order. Three plates of antipasti, a salad and two pizzas.

The antipasti – three helpings – arrived quickly, followed seemingly immediately by the rest of the food, necessitating a complex rearrangement of wine and table items to fit them all on. It looked liked the world’s largest tapas.

But it tasted good. Quality meat,  big carves of melon (I could see the cook cutting up a fresh one in the kitchen) and plenty of salty cheese. The pizza had an excellent crispy base and a decent smattering of sausage. Wine was passable but cheap.

The food had been delivered in such a hurry that we assumed they were closing imminently. But no, closing time was 10.15 so we laid in another bottle and chatted in the dark, enjoying the warmth of the Mediterranean and the light nibbles of hungry mosquitos.

7/10

#food #Italy

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap


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