"Authentic food makes it feel like a little Tuscan holiday"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
Tired from walking around Portobello Market in the unexpected hot sunshine, we ventured into this corner (of Kensington Park Road) restaurant which has those window-walls from which a few tables and chairs had spilled onto the pavement and which made being inside feel like you are outside.
Cooler inside, the brick walls, rough plaster, wood floor, mirrors, sconces, open fire place and bits of nautical wall art (including iron weathervanes, hurricane and oars) made it feel rustic.
The friendly but fast-paced waiters were authentic Italian – to the point where we had to ask a couple of times for things to be repeated. But it was entirely good natured. Within moments we were seated at a table and provided with menus. At this stage we noticed that there was a larger dining area to the rear.
My companion asked about a drink that was on the tile-fronted bar waiting to be served and the waiter patiently explained the summer aperitif using Aperolo, Prosecco and orange juice. Reassured that it was sweeter than Campari we decided to try it out and it was absolutely delicious. In fact, it disappeared way too easily. So we attacked the bread basket and dipping oil while waiting for our wine.
I’m afraid I can’t resist clams so without hesitation I chose the Linguine Alle Vongole Veraci (£14.50) as it is one of my tests of Italian cooking. But my companion made a far superior choice with her Tagliata di manzo al rosmarino con rucola e pachino (Char-grilled sliced fillet beef with rosemary, served with rocket and cherry tomatoes - £21.50). The beef was beautifully cooked and there was a lot of it. But she managed to eat it all – much to my disappointment as I was hoping to share.
My side salad (rocket and parmesan (£4.50)) was nothing special but my companion declared her red onion, avocado and tomato salad (not on the menu but she can be very persuasive) “to die for”. I liked it but couldn’t see what she was so excited about.
It was an eclectic mix of clientele – although most were on the younger side. I suspect that the vast majority were also Italian. Everyone was very relaxed though even though it was absolutely full to overflowing.
With the warm sunshine outside, the constant Italian nattering of the waiting staff and the authentic food made it feel like a little Tuscan holiday.
Osteria Basilico and Essenza are sister restaurants and are located in the same street. Children’s menus are also available.
KimT reviewed Mediterraneo on Mon 16 Jun 2014