While there’s a part of me that loves the foreign interpretations of Italian food (i.e. tomato based marinara drenched spaghetti with a soppy smeared 15-cloves-of-garlic baguette), I’m a sucker for the down to earth flavours a good Italian chef draws out of a simple vegetable. Pasquale Amico, the chef and co-owner of Amico Bio, has this down to a fine art. As an added bonus he sources the majority of the restaurant’s vegetables from the family’s organic farm in Southern Italy.
A vegetarian himself, Amico happily chats with diners about what’s available that day and proudly tells the story of the family business. There’s something about the chef being available to diners that I love. I’m not fussed about food coming fast if it means the person preparing it is taking time to relate to his or her patrons. To me food is about relationships, relationships with people and with ingredients (and in the case of my kitchen, the ingredients’ relationship with every available surface- vertical and horizontal).
Carpaccio di Cavblo Rapa e Scarola
This salad of scarola leaves and parsley came well presented, served on wafer thin slices of raw kohlrabi. The dish was lightly seasoned and drizzled with rich olive oil, a light starter which initially drew me in because of my love for raw kohlrabi. Treble this sucker up, serve it as a main, and I’d be a happy Kip.
Piadini Integrale di Seitan
I was immediately happy with this tortilla wrapped assemblage of in-house seitan and vegetables, but I think one of my dining mates best described its appeal; it was good because the vegetables weren’t overcooked. Fresh and well seasoned, this is what I meant when I mentioned talent in drawing out a great taste from your base ingredients rather than over-seasoning to achieve palatability. In other words good job cheffy!
Apple Fritters with Chocolate Sauce
After a vegetable-fueled luncheon it was decided that a bit of the old deep fry was in order. Kitchens often underachieve in the batter-frying department, even at posh restaurants, so I’m always weary of ordering what’s likely to arrive as a pile of soggy mush. Alas, Pasquale proved me wrong. The fritters were perfect– still hot, crispy, and in reasonable portion. The chocolate “sauce” was more of a sorbet, a real winner in my book due to its anise-y undertone.
All in all I was very happy with my experience at Amico Bio, and I’m enamoured by any dining establishment where the chef will come to the table (really, it’s so rare here). The one suggestion I’d make would be to include a more up to date menu on the website, a tricky task when it changes frequently and is seasonally based, but even a list of what’s likely to be in store might encourage more diners to venture into this London gem.