Category: Le Budget (Â£)
When I heard about the opening of Briciole I knew I had to try it in my desperate and thus far not successful search for a decent and non pretentious neighbourhood Italian.
Briciole is located in the non-fashionable part of Marylebone, close to Edgware Road tube station, and even with Sat Nav not very easy to find. You enter in a small deli/wine bar area which opens into a rustic dining room. Initially we were rather unsure about Briciole. The plates that were carried past us while we were waiting for our table to be cleared didn’t look all that appetising and we spend some time admiring the very tacky and obviously fake bricks that were covering one of the walls.
What we realised later about Briciole is that this is a place that’s not about sleek design, sophisticated presentation or reinventing the wheel (â‰¡ Italian cuisine), but about down to earth, rustic and authentic Italian cooking with very little Anglicization. The food is not mind-blowing but very good and is a reminder that Italian cuisine is all the more enjoyable the simpler it is. Compliments to Briciole also for being the most reasonably priced restaurant I have been to in London for a very long time.
However, who the hell has designed this horrible logo? Briciole does mean crumbs, but surely this can’t be enough reason to have badly drawn “briciole” in attack mode on the dinner menu?
Ultimately, Briciole does Italian tapas, and in my opinion does it far better than any of the hip Italian tapas places like Polpo. The dishes in general lack olive oil, so it’s worthwhile to ask for some olive oil on the side and use it to refine your food.
The Bruschetta (3) came on foccaccia bread with incredibly creamy burrata. The aubergines were a bit tasteless, they could have been mushrooms for all I knew, but a very decent dish for Â£3! We stayed away from the Formaggi (Briciole offers a selection of 14 famous and obscure Italian cheeses) as to leave more space for other things to try, but went for 2 choices of the Prosciutti and Salami section of the menu. The Finocchiona Toscana (Â£3) – wild fennel seed salami from Tuscany, was a revelation and very tasty also was the Sardinian Prosciutto Sardo (Â£5), more salty and intense than the conventional Prosciutto di Parma or di San Daniele. The Insalata mista con rape rosse, formaggio di capra e noci (Â£4) – fresh salad leaves, mild and creamy goat’s cheese and crunchy walnuts - was simple but very delicious at the same time.
We tried one pasta dish which sounded great but was a major disappointment. Gnocchi di patate con fave, asparagi, pomodorini e origano (Â£8) consisted of lovely, light and fluffy potato gnocchi swimming in the dullest pasta sauce I have come across in a long time. I would have preferred also if the parmesan had been added at the table instead of the pasta already being served with it. Much better was one of the specials, the Spada (10.50). A thin slice of swordfish straight from the grill was served on a bed of Sardinian (?) peppers. The flavour came from the olive oil, the lemon and the BBQ and was again lovely in its simplicity. Perfect on the side was the fresh Roman style courgette salad (Â£3) and the immensely flavourful Spinaci saltati con aceto balsÃ¡mico (Â£3)
Don’t order desserts at Briciole. The Tortino di ricotta, canella e cioccolato con salsa vaniglia (Â£3.50), basically an Italian cheesecake, sounded so much better than it tasted as it was a very boring waste of calories dessert. I usually love Sgroppino al limone (Â£ 3), prosecco mixed with lemon sorbet into a chilled, citrussy and invigorating drink. Not the version at Briciole though, as this was lukewarm and actually quite disgusting.
We had 2 prossecci and 3 glasses of red wine and paid including the service charge and huge amounts of food Â£55. Excellent value for money and even if not all the dishes are winners, the overall impression I had of Bricciole was very good indeed. You can actually book a table (no queuing in the rain!), the service is fast and efficient, the clientÃ¨le nicely mixed and you don’t feel rushed to finish your food and leave. I will certainly go back, and this not only to try some of the delicious sounding cheeses, the Arancini Siciliana, and the polpette.
- Food: 7/10
- Ambiance: 7/10
- Service: 7/10
- Value for Money: 9/10
- Chances of Returning: 90%
- Verdict: finally a neighbourhood Italian that I actually like!