Thursday, 11 August 2011

Molti Piatti on the Kings Road

There is an absolute abundance of Italian’s in Fulham and Chelsea. Big ones, small ones, chains, independents, iconic ones, ones with longevity and ones that seem to disappear in the blink of an eye. With a strong preference for independent restaurants, one place that has long been on my hit list has been Osteria Dell’Arancio, which sits on the Kings Road just before the World’s End. Last Sunday, I finally got round to it!

From the outside, the place looks like a fairly large and unpretentious restaurant. The premises are light and airy, and the cool white exterior punctuated with bright green makes the place seem instantly inviting. Inside, the feel is vibrant, spacious and quirky all at once. The tables are of solid build, well spaced out, and the walls are covered in eye-popping collage-style paintings replete with tongue-in-cheek pop culture references, whilst the banquette seating is covered in a selection of colourful cushions.

However, if the look and feel is unpretentious, bright and welcoming, don’t be fooled that this place doesn’t take its food seriously. The menu is diverse and imaginative, and the wine list (helpfully divided by Italian region) is absolutely enormous! The food offering follows the traditional Italian format of bruschetta, antipasti, primi piatti, secundi piatti, contorni and desserts but you will not find a bog standard Bolognese here (though the owner is very accommodating, and I have a feeling he could rustle one up on request!)

We had a tough time deciding what to eat, but in the end plumped for:
Octopus, borlotti bean, sunblushed tomato and olive warm salad
Squid, fennel and orange salad.

Traditional Italian beef “tagliata” steak accompanied by rocket and parmesan
Tagliolini with langoustines and shredded courgette in a light tomato sauce

The owner was really helpful in finding us the right wine. Having recently returned from Tuscany we fancied a white from that region that wasn’t eye-wateringly expensive. Having chosen a selection of meat and seafood we were directed to a Tuscan white called Il Volano, which was fairly full bodied white with a very distinct taste that lent itself very well to our chosen dishes.

The octopus was rich and meaty, and the accompanying beans, tomatoes and olives were carefully balanced to produce something that was part hearty stew, but also retained a certain freshness and lightness. I really would recommend this as a starter

I’ve always been a big fan of squid, and this was done to perfection, cooked to add a slight smokey flavour, and remaining tender and not in the least rubbery. The boy doesn’t usually like the taste of orange anywhere but dessert (philistine!), but even he had to agree that the fennel and orange were each other’s perfect counterpoint and this was the dish I perhaps enjoyed the most from the meal.

Having recently got back from a trip to Italy where we had both fallen in love with the traditional tagliata dish, I’m sorry to say that although the steak was beautifully cooked (and good Lord do you get a lot of meat for your buck) some of the finer details that we had grown to love about the tagliata were missing. In Tuscany, and perhaps there are regional differences at play here, we had always been served tagliata cooked in a rosemary sauce with almost pesto-like consistency. This extra dimension of flavour was absent from the Osteria Dell’Arancio version, although the meat was cooked very well nonetheless.

On the other hand, my taglioni dish of dainty thin spaghetti was really delicious, even if langoustines were a little thin on the ground! The courgette had been carefully grated into little threads which meant it integrated itself well into the spaghetti and lended its flavour evenly throughout the dish, whilst the accompanying tomato-based sauce was well seasoned and light enough not to detract from the langoustines and courgettes which were the main event. As were all our dishes, it was served in almost artistic clean white crockery and was presented in a thoughtful and elegant manner.

Visiting as we did mid-Sunday afternoon, the place was not exactly heaving but the owner was very attentive, and you could see that the atmosphere would be absolutely fabulous on a Saturday night. It’s the kind of place you could go as a family, or for a fun night with friends, and although the atmosphere is light-hearted, I could recommend it for a date also. If they added the rosemary to their tagliati – I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a solid 9 out of 10!

Osteria Dell'Arancio on Urbanspoon

383 Kings Road, London SW10 OLP
For reservations call 0207 349 8111 or book online

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