THE SCENE In fact, the first-floor restaurant’s bustling urban setting makes its wood panelled walls and plastic seating antiseptic by contrast. Downstairs is Osteria, an informal bar/cafe, which opens up to a stunning courtyard featuring a ‘living wall’, carpeted in greenery. It’s attached to a live music venue, The Forge, which Is closed tonight because of a private concert, but usually, drinkers and diners are treated to a tinkling of the ivories.
THE GRUB The kitchen dishes up fantastic Sicilian fare. After nibbling on home made breads, olive oil and vinegar, my partner needs no reminder of why she’s vegetarian after polishing off a caponata – a deliciously cold concoction of sweet and sour aubergines with tomatoes, capers and olives. I also delight in the delicately sweet, herby flavour of my pappardelle with a shredded rabbit meat ragu. The homemade pasta could have been cooked a smidgen longer, but, evidently, the chef errs on the side of undercooking, as a main of roast cod springs in the middle with prod. As for my almond-crusted lamb chops, I’d repeat the experience over and over. The succulent meat is liberally coated in large nut chunks, giving a juicy, textured bite with every mouthful. We welcome a delicious and uncomplicated sharp lemon mousse encased in a fluffy sponge cake for pudding. But the stand-out is a trio of sorbets – pear, melon and lemon – tasting of pure fruit whipped and frozen. The lemon flavour is electrifying.
BEHIND THE BAR We share a bottle of La Segneta Rosso Planeta 2009. There is also an extensive array of cocktails.
BILL PLEASE Antipasti from £5.50; pasta from £10; fish and meat from £19; dessert from £6. A bottle of wine is about £16 and cocktails are from £5.
VERDICT More people deserve to know about this place – it needs the atmosphere. 4/5
3 Delancey St, NW1 7NL
Tube: Camden Town