Obicà St Pauls – Casual Italian with Style:
The concept of a mozzarella bar is all too tempting. I’m almost as much of a cheesaholic as a chocoholic – I’ve found the best solution is simply to avoid places where I might end up indulging too much; a momentary lapse though and I was booked in to visit Obicà, the flagship London restaurant for the group, a 120 seat restaurant, mozzarella bar, deli and private dining room. The name, incidentally, means ‘here it is’. So, here is my review of lunch at Obicà
Halfway between St Pauls and Blackfriars (about a five-minute walk from either), the contemporary, clean fittings of Obicà look unremarkable from the street. It isn’t really until you start to look at the menu that you realise how much attention has gone into providing good quality, authentic dishes at a reasonable price. Obicà is linked to the Slow Food Movement, something which is far more popular in Italy than here in the UK. As such, the menu reflects the ethos of slow food with a focus on regional traditions, good food and gastronomic pleasure. It’s a good starting point for a restaurant with a focus on a cheese that needs to be eaten when fresh and which many say, can only come from the right part of Italy. Obicà imports its mozzarella twice a week, along with a whole range of fresh seasonal and organic produce from PDO areas.
My companion arrived early and was already sitting drinking one of the Obicà classic Italian cocktails – a Bosco – which is a mix of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry purée with prosecco. It was pronounced excellent and looked delicious. I decided to try the Trentino Ferrari Brut 2007, a classic sparkling methode champenoise wine.
We decided to share some small plates to start – a great chance to try some of the fresh produce and deli items that Obicà prides itself on. There are two ways to do this, either picking from a delicious antipasti selection or choosing from the small plates and Mozzerella bar. We chose the latter, mostly for the sake of indulging my yearning for burrata – but the antipasti boards offer a more cost effective way of getting a variety of small dishes.
A generous portion of Prosciutto crudo di Parma DOP arrived – delicately spicy and savoury. Carciofini were tiny halves of baby artichoke, roasted and marinated in oil. Very delicious, with a dressing that meant I wished I’d indulged and ordered bread. The burrata was beautiful with a deliciously creamy centre. There’s a burrata with black truffle option too, which must be the ultimate lunchtime treat. Ponodorini e pesto came with a generous portion of Dattarini tomatoes and a home made pesto. Now that I’m something of an expert on pesto I was just a little disappointed here – I suspect this was a blender version and it was more liquid than I would have liked. But, this is minor detail for a dish that costs £5!
My companion ordered the classic Bufala DOP e Pomodoro pizza which arrived looking about as authentic as anything I’ve seen in London. Obicà has it’s own copper pizza oven and our waitress stressed that the dough is allowed to rise for a good period of time so that the pizza is lighter and healthier. Certainly, what looked like a large portion seemed to vanish with remarkable ease – and that after our generous starters!
For my part, in some vain attempt to eat a healthy meal, I ordered the Petto di Pollo Ruspante. Chicken breast stuffed with parmigiano reggiano, black truffles and chives on wilted black kale. It’s quite a tough order to produce tender chicken breast without overcooking and making it dry – but here it was delicious, with just a little earthy black truffle and a delicious cheese and chive stuffing on a bed of kale.
Having been restrained enough NOT to order the rosemary roasted potatoes, I did think we both deserved desert.
For me, Torta di Capri, a flourless chocolate and almond Cake with Fior di Latte Ice Cream – a dessert which could easily have been heavy but somehow here was light and moist.
Ricotta di Bufala and Pear Cheesecake came with visible pieces of pear throughout the sweet ricotta filling.
We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Obica. Whilst it might not be traditional English food, it’s great to find somewhere so close to St Pauls that serves excellent food at reasonable prices. The main courses were all between £12 and £21 while the pizzas ranged from £11 for a simple mozzarella and tomato pizza through to £18 for a truffle, ham, mozzarella and ricotta option
Monday to Saturday from 11,30am to 10,30pm
Monday to Saturday from 3,30pm to 7pm
Monday to Friday from 7am to 3pm
Obica St Pauls
Unit 4, 5-7 Limeburner Lane
EC4M 7AX – London