As a north Londoner I rarely venture south of the river so when I heard all the buz around new Italian restaurant Antico I thought it would be worth making the trip and I am very glad I did.
Nesteled on the corner of the so-called ‘up-and-coming’ Bermondsy (do people just say that about rather unimpressive areas which get lucky with a few good restaurants/bars?!), it’s about a 10-minute walk from the tube.
When we went the rain outside was pelting down at us from every direction and with a flimsy umbrella I arrived looking less like myself and more drowned rat. Luckily as soon as we stepped into the charming little traditional Italian restaurant, I was met with a wave of warm air and the smell of the delicious, aromatic flavours of Italy.
The newly-opened restaurant used to be an antiques warehouse but it’s now going for the ‘rustic’ Italian look and although this isn’t really achieved – there’s a lot of modern-looking wood everywhere – the food does tick this box. In fact it ticks it in a big fat black marker.
It’s hard to start with the food as everything I had was simply outstanding. I am guilty of over-egging certain things in life, but in this instance I truly mean it.
To start we had a bowl of plump Nocarella olives and spongy focaccia and the salty mix of the fresh olives and airy bread was just the right way to begin the fest.
Next up a creamy burrata which I imagine is the kind of thing you’d be served in heaven. It’s pure melt-in-your mouth loveliness which is dolloped on top of some salty prosciutto on ciabatta bread. We also tried some juicy scallops sprinkled in pancetta which were another ‘Am I really eating this it’s so good’ moment.
When it comes to the main meals the major thing missing is the generic pizza and pasta dishes you’ll find on most Italian menus. In fact there’s not a pizza in sight and only a very small pasta selection. The pasta however, is not to be overlooked. The restaurant’s owner, Nick Crispini, says “pasta is easy to make but difficult to master,” and he is right. This is not the kind of pasta I’ve ever eaten before and I am quite a connoisseur and greedy lover of the stuff. It’s strong enough to hold its shape and provides a delicate crunch instead of the normal slop I’m used to.
Finally to top it all off despite being comfortably full, the waitress tempted us into having Tiramisu and a chocolate, almond and hazelnut cake and it again surpassed all previous expectations. I’m not really a fan of Tiramisu or any kind of desert with alcohol-soaked sponge layers, but this one was exceptionally light, creamy and luscious.