Address: 395 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LQ
Telephone: 07802 473444
Open everyday from 12.30 pm to 11 pm: except Tuesday 6-11 pm
This is a new restaurant that has relocated from Brixton Pop. It is now a real restaurant, but in a venue that has not had a good run of restaurants. They have all been pretty good (Calcutta Street, The Phoenix, etc.) but all have found it taxing and have moved on or closed. This new incarnation has just opened and we wish them well. The new decor is stripped back but happily it is light and airy. We were so pleased not to be turning on our camera torches to read the menu. This is a Sicilian style trattoria serving small plates and homemade pasta to eat in or take away. It’s the sort of restaurant where you would find Montalbano chatting to the waitress and discussing all the ingredients of an arancini.
The menu is on a hard board so isn’t changing fast, although there are a few additions on the blackboard. The small plates are an array of rice balls (arancini), potato balls and aubergine balls with raisins as well as mussels with clams, prawns and octopus. They are all actually quite substantial. We chose a tasting plate so we could roam around without having to make a choice. The delicacies came hot and cold. The potato croquettes with chickpea fritters were delightful especially when you dipped the fritters in the aubergine, tomato and mint sauce. The foccacia is homemade and the dish we enjoyed was the cold Sfincione which had a topping of cheese, tomatoes anchovies and onions. Olives were large and juicy and the caponata salty.
When we had finished this mini feast we were both quite full, but we were already committed to two plates of pasta. They allow you to share everything so we could have ordered one (if we could agree on the sauce). I chose Ammuttanata (stuffed baby aubergines) and my companion chose Nero di Sepia (calamari and black squid ink). We enjoyed both of them, but beware of the chili in the calamari dish as they don’t warn you and it is fierce.
We were too full for any more food and had already enjoyed four glasses of their most expensive wine (two white and two red). The night we visited was filled with friends and families celebrating birthdays or just an evening out. You may have to share a table but there was plenty of room. The bill was £68.48 including service, of which the drinks were half. We will certainly be visiting again but on that occasion we will be pacing ourselves to get to dessert.