Farringdon’s Latest Italian Joint – Enoteca Rabezzana:
Most of the time I rather enjoy working from home. I can get up at leisure, dress in ultra comfortable and extremely uncool clothes, stop any time for a coffee, biscuit and gazing out of the window break and have long and earnest discussions with the cat in total privacy. But, occasionally, just very occasionally, I miss the daily commute into town and all that goes with it. One of the things I miss most is meeting up with friends after work for a drink and a quick bite to eat. The sort of evening out that is not planned and that isn’t an excursion for anyone. One that is spontaneous rather than planned through 20 or more ping-pong mails. Never does that become more apparent that when I find somewhere I’d love to use as a base for that kind of get together. Right now, Enoteca Rabezzana would be the perfect, perfect place to meet.
A few minutes from Farringdon Station, the wine bar is a friendly, casual place where you might wonder if it’s actually worth ordering food. There is an extensive, Italian wine list – 140 bottles or so, each one also available by the glass (125ml or 175ml) with a negligible mark-up. Rabezzana is a vineyard in the Monferrato area of Italy that has been producing wine since 1911. A family business run by four generations of the eponymous family, they expanded to run a winery in Turin, where they now carry almost a thousand different wines (Italian and international). The UK offshoot though is only offering Italian bottles with the range extending from a few wines under £20 a bottle to a handful of special vintages priced over £200.
You could just sit here and enjoy a rather good Italian wine tasting. But then you’d really be missing out. This wine bar is a joint venture between Vini Rabezzana and Guglielmo Arnulfo, the Chef Proprietor of Acciuga on Kensington Hight Street. It’s a chance for him to showcase a less formal side to his cooking, though he assured us that the quality of ingredients and the passion for food that makes Accuiga so special is a common theme here too. We are here for the food and Guglielmo himself is in the kitchen.
A small plate of zucchini fritti appears. Beautifully crisp and light batter coats tender courgette fingers, with just enough bite to keep flavour and texture in balance.
Dining with The Hedonist, I’m resolutely carnivorous in my choice of small dish, picking the Salamella Alla Griglia – a meaty Italian sausage, unsurprisingly labelled gluten free. It’s almost gamey and quite salty. On the way home from work, with a glass of wine, this would be enough for an evening meal for me.
Meanwhile, The Hedonist is busy testing the Trofie al Pesto. It WAS his favourite dish when we ate at Acciuga and here he seems to be even more impressed. Each time I’ve just been offered a mouthful – and from scant memory, this version does seem creamier and if anything more packed with basil.
There are large sharing plates priced from £10 up to £18 for the Fritto Misto di Mare that we try next. I’m impressed with the freshness of the fish, the rich variety including gambero rosso, squid and octopus. The Fritto Misto has the lightest of coating and every piece of fish seems to be perfectly cooked.
We order a green salad and paprika fries. That is easily enough food for two and we are impressed that the neat rocket salad is presented so beautifully and the fries are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and prettily dusted with a little paprika.
I might have skipped dessert but Dolce Amore, described as alcoholic tiramisu but actually more like a light coffee and chocolate mousse (with alcohol) is delicious. The Hedonist has ordered Bonet, an Italian cocoa caramel and macaroon pudding which I’ve never come across before. From a half spoonful, I prefer my own choice, but that may simply be the contrast between a very light, creamy mousse and a much richer pudding.
We have, of course, been drinking wine throughout the evening. Verduno Bel Colle 2013 (£6.50 125 ml) is made from a rare and old red grape from Piedmont. When young it has a light, fruity nose which pairs well both with cured meats and sausages and with vegetable dishes.
The Vesevo Falanghina is from another traditional Italian grape. Apparently, the Romans were particularly fond of ‘Falernina’. From Campania, this low temperature fermentation wine has a fresh, crisp and aromatic quality with notes of honeysuckle, citrus and apples. It paired very well with the Frito Misto.
Finally for dessert we enjoyed a glass of Malvasina di Castelnovo, a not too sweet sparkling red (£4.50 125ml).
I love the concept of Enoteca Rabezzana. Almost worth finding an office job for, I’ll just have to work out a way to be in that part of town at the right time for drinks and a bite to eat soon. Somehow I think that might be almost ANY time of the day.
62-63 Long Lane,