36 Brixton Water Lane, London, SW2 1PE
Tel no: 020 3186 4011
This is a new joint in town, near to Naughty Piglets and Hottananny in an area that seems to have had a peppered history of restaurants opening and closing. But this one seemed to be booming after just a couple of weeks of a soft launch. By booming we need to stress – book in advance. We went at lunchtime on Saturday and were lucky to find a perch. Maremma is on a corner, where the Montego Inn used to be, so has lots of light, but of course, there is only so much room for a bar and tables. They have squeezed in additional seating with bar style counter seats that are fine, as long as there are only two in the party. Downstairs offers more traditional style dining with tables and chairs. Bare tables and tops but linen napkins, so you know this place will be expensive.
The name Maremma is chosen after an unspoilt region of Tuscany and the restaurant offers regional and seasonal specialties, including fresh pasta. There are starters (vegetarian and meat options), primi (mainly pasta) and secundi (larger plates). We chose a starter and primi and were so stuffed we couldn’t even consider the desserts. Our starters were octopus and fava puree and beef battuta (like beef tartar). The octopus was nice and charred mostly, although the fat end was a little chewy, and the beef needed a little salt which came in a small pot.
Next we had the squid risotto and a regional specialty of a chickpea pancake with three different kinds of artichoke. The risotto was brilliant – with plenty of seafood and the addition of the lemon zest a particular joy. The chickpea pancake was “interesting” and most was eaten. The garlic chips were really tasty but the artichoke hearts came with some very hard leaves making it impossible to cut and most was left on the side (a complaint to the waitress produced no response from the kitchen, but it is early days). We added a bread selection – the foccacia was very good and a side dish of spinach.
Water came straight away and there was a choice of still or sparkling.We washed everything down with a carafe of Tuscan wine (375ml or half a bottle). There was a good choice at very reasonable cost. Our bill for two people came to £86.08 including service. They helpfully divide the bill to show what each guest should pay on the bill, which prevents the rush to the phone calculator. It was expensive for lunch but we would return for dinner. The food was good but we are not raving about it until we have tasted more.