Maremma

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36 Brixton Water Lane, London, SW2 1PE

Tel no: 020 3186 4011

email: info@maremmarestaurant.com

Internet: https://www.maremmarestaurant.com/

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.

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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.

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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.

Canova Hall revisited

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address: 250 Ferndale Road SW9 2BQ

telephone: 020 7733 8356

email: bookings@canovahall.com

https://www.canovahall.com/

We really want to like Canova Hall. The idea of having a local brasserie style place for casual dining, or just a morning cup of coffee, has a lot of appeal. But they do make it difficult, leaving on one side issues of gentrification, as it’s simply not as good as it ought to be.

We’ve been a number of times – see here, here and even here for a bacon sandwich. But our reaction has generallly been lukewarm at best. But hope springs eternal, so it seemed the right place to take a stranger to Brixton for a working lunch. See our earlier reviews for a more detailed description, but there’s plenty of space, despite its clear popularity for as a place to work over a cup of coffee. Based on this visit it looks like that they operate a fairly relaxed policy on how long they tolerate the time spent over a single coffee.

There’s no doubt that it did suit our purpose on this occasion. There’s plenty of room when we went around 1:00 pm; not too noisy, there’s a reasonable choice of popular dishes focussing on pizzas and pasta; and there’s no attempt to rush you out the door. We weren’t in a hurry, so the relaxed service we’ve found on previous visits was not a problem.

We both went for pasta, choosing the truffle tagliatelle (Gorgonzola, walnuts, mushrooms, truffle oil, pink peppercorns, salsa di noci and thyme) and the spicy ragu tagliatelle (Sicilian sausage & ‘nduja ragu, ricotta and parmesan). The spicy ragu was eaten enthusiastically, down to the last scrap. The truffle, as on a previous occasion, was a bit harder going as, while it’s tasty, it’s on the dry side, so some was left.

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As it was a work meeting we avoided alcohol but enjoyed their strawberry and mint sodas, although deprecating the continued use of plastic straws.

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So, it served our purpose at a cost of £39.37, including 12.5% service. Not very expensive but more than I want to spend for a regular lunch. Nevertheless, I’m sure we will be back, as it does offer the right space and the environment that isn’t really available elsewhere in Brixton. I just find it less than it could be. And, by the way, if you do want a bacon sandwich I can recommend the reopened Cafe Max, one of the first returnees in the newly renovated arches in Brixton Station Road.

Franzina Trattoria

Address: 395 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LQ

Telephone: 07802 473444

Website: https://franzinatrattoria.com/

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. Continue reading

Cattivo Hall

207 Ferndale Road

020 096 2236

Website: https://www.cattivobar.com/

Email: bookings@cattivobar.com

Monday: Closed
Tues-Thurs: 12 noon to 12 midnight
Fri-Sat: 12 noon to 2am
Sun: 12 noon to 11pm

We usually give a new restaurant a few visits before reviewing, but this place caught our eye on a cold Friday night. They were in their “soft launch” phase – the whole kit and caboodle will be open tomorrow (Tuesday 16th October), when it will have a longer menu including desserts. It is part of the same chain as Canova Hall (link, link and link), which is just across the road. This is a restaurant and bar also but takes a slightly different approach to decor. Gone are the cosy banquettes and the French Bistro feel, but what is left is the same industrial style, with lots of room for standing and drinking. Downstairs (and yet to be explored) is a cocktail bar with its own Gin distillery.

But we visited for the food, although by way of a cocktail and glass of wine. Food on the menu was hearty, and with large proportions it will certainly line your stomach for the Friday night revelries and probably divert any potential hangover. Menus online seem to be more extensive, with some sharing plates.

The foreshortened menu consisted of spaghetti and meatballs (beef, spicy pork and ricotta), a vegan dish and some fried items including potatoes, squash, peas, parmesan fries and focaccia. We settled for spicy pork and ricotta meatballs, and although we thought about ordering a side dish, we were glad we hadn’t when we saw the size of the plates of pasta.

The spicy pork was spicy but not overpowering with some chili in the tomato sauce too. We missed the promised gremolata but liked the taste of the sicilian sausage.

The ricotta meatballs were much softer than the beef but equally tasty. We  missed the gremolata again and wondered what the ricotta salata was (advertised on the menu). We did have cheese and they didn’t offer any extra Parmesan. But I don’t think either of us minded.

We washed all this down with water and a glass of Primitivo and a Professore cocktail (Del Professore Madame gin, Kamm & Sons aperitif, Campari) – so a sort of Negroni with a large ice cube and we were glad to see the absence of a straw. A clever engineering touch was the shaved orange peel jammed into the side of the ice cube thus successfully preventing it from freezing your top lip during drinking. We would like to congratulate the barman (or woman) who invented this – patent it now.

We paid £42 including the drinks which were almost half the bill. We have another booking for Friday to try some of the other specialties on offer.

 

Pizza Brixton

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105 Brixton Hill, SW2 1AA

phone: 020 3417 0471

website: http://www.pizzabrixton.co.uk/

Opening times:

Sun – Sat 12:00 – 23:00

Another week, another relatively new pizzeria, opening earlier this year. This time it’s on Brixton Hill, halfway up on the stretch that the New York Times, no less, has described as “successfully eschewing the onslaught of gentrification and proving that cool doesn’t have to come with a high price tag” (see here). There’s quite a lot of journalistic licence here but if you want a friendly neighbourhood eating place without any great pretensions, this might save you the walk down to central Brixton. One thing that was noticeable when we ate there was a distinct shift in the customers, compared to places in the centre of Brixton, in that it was more family orientated, and rather less ‘hipsterish’. Continue reading

500 Degrees

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192 Ferndale Road, SW9 8BA

email: Brixton@500degrees.co

phone: 020 3302 8106

website: www.500degrees.co/brixton-dashboard/

Opening times:

Monday – Friday 12.00 noon till 11.00 pm

Saturday 11:30 am till 11.00pm

Sunday 11:30am to 10.00pm

I really would like this relatively new pizza place, part of a small chain mainly across south-east London, to do well. It’s conveniently located on Ferndale Road, at the Brixton Road end, just opposite the new Post Office. Unfortunately, on our first visit it fell a little short, particularly when up against the tough competition in the world of Brixton pizza. Continue reading

Home Delivery Pizza

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Agile Rabbit – Brixton Village – SW9 8PR Link for our full review and details

Mamma Dough – 354 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH – Link for our full review and details

Made of Dough – Pop Brixton – SW9 8PQ  Link for our full review and details

Franco Manca – Market Row – SW9 8LD Link for our full review and details

Pizza Oregano – 15 Tulse Hill, SW2 2TH – Link to Pizza Oregano’s website

Domino’s – 114-116 Streatham Hill, SW2 4RS – Link to Domino’s website

Tesco – 13 Acre Lane, SW2 5RS – Link to Tesco’s pizzas

How do you feed 13 people you invite round on a Saturday evening without breaking a sweat. Simple – just order a takeaway. But what takeaway? Brixton is full of Deliveroo and Just Eat partner restaurants but we wanted to focus on pizza. Everyone likes it, except vegans, and we didn’t have one of those. But we also wanted an opportunity for a trial. So we chose six outlets that deliver in Brixton, ranging from local favourites, which we have previously reviewed, to a national chain. We also went to a supermarket, just for comparison. Continue reading