23 Northcote Rd, Clapham, London SW11 1NG
Price: £30-£40 per person
This osteria (traditional, cosy, Italian restaurant) lays in a standard white-British middle class neighbourhood that we all say we despise but we actually all desire to live in at the very bottom of our hearts. It settles nicely among the little boutiques, patisseries and bakeries of Northcote Road, strolling towards Clapham Junction.
Rigatoni alla Campidanese
When I had a look at the menu outside, the place won my heart by listing the dishes between “primi” – first entrées – and “secondi” – second entrées. When you see this in an Italian restaurant you can hope they might know what they are doing, as remember that the standard ever-lasting Italian meal is composed by antipasti, first entrée, second entrée, sides, (sometimes cheese), fruit, dessert and closing espresso.
Ravioli con zucca mantovana
The simple menu entails classics from the middle and north of Italy, such as wild boar ragù for example. We decided to go for antipasti, “primi” and desserts as we were still willing to survive the day. We chose a variety of dishes in order to try a little bit of everything. Worth noticing among the antipasti was a delicious salad of artichokes. We then asked and found out that the artichokes were actually imported from Italy, hence so full of flavour. Less spectacular were the fried courgettes that remained a bit too soft for my taste.
Coming to the first entrées, they were all absolutely delicious! Some of them are also pretty peculiar to Italian tradition and not easy to find abroad usually. This was the case for “Rigatoni all Campidanese” – Campidanese is a Sardinian sauce where sausage is mixed tomatoes and fennel seeds. They were a delight.
We had some very good, hand-made tortelli (broad ravioli) stuffed with pumpkin from Mantova, which is usually the best you get in Italy. I had the distinctive tonnarelli with wild boar ragù while my dad ordered linguine with scampi. Being very Italian, my dad wanted to make sure he was getting real linguine and not some random spaghetti of different sort! After his funny exchange with themaître, the chef personally come to the table offering three different types of traditional Italian pasta brands from which my dad could chose from! A nice treat indeed.
Tonnarelli with wild boar ragù
We concluded the meal with again hand-made desserts: cannoli siciliani and a very delicate tart of pears and chocolate, another lesser known Italian passion abroad.
The whole meal was a success, the food was up to good Italian standards and the environment was cosy and relaxed. I can heartily say I will easily go back next time I crave for a real Italian meal.
Linguine with Scampi