Many bars and eateries entice you in on the culinary mile of Berdmondsey Street, near London Bridge. However, if you’re after a true, authentic taste bursting with Italian flavours, then head on down to Antico Restaurant & Bar.
Housed at the former site of a covered antiques market – referenced by its nostalgic name – Antico is dressed with a modern take on a rustic trattoria – think wooden tables, white linens, bare-brick walls, chocolate brown leather banquettes and blackboards, chalked up with farm-fresh cuts of the day. In a nutshell, it’s a smart-casual, relaxed Italian affair, where the food heavily outshines the décor.
To kick off, our attentive host for the evening (and general manager), Iwona, eloquently explained our options on the varied seasonal menu. We were soon tucking into perfectly portioned sharing plates of creamy-fresh burrata (cheese) topped with crushed broad bean and prosciutto di parma bruschetta, halibut fritti with fresh chilli and caper aioli and a refreshing fennel, orange, pomegranate and rocket salad with truffle oil dressing.
Those who usually skip on ordering bread baskets need to rethink their food plan, as the focaccia here is incredible – sliced up like large sizes of cake with a crispy salty crust and soft, light and spongy on the inside.
Antico offered us a bottle of easy-drinking red wine from its single-estate list (which is exclusively Italian, of course). It beautifully complemented all of our dishes. We also discovered that the wines here are all from a special collection carefully curated by half-Italian owner Nick Crispini himself – now that’s impressive. Iwona’s energy and passion started to rub off on us we followed on to our main courses. I tried the ‘Bolton Abbey’ roasted lamb rump with celeriac, braised cannellini beans and mint oil and sampled my guest’s irresistible monkfish, tomato, chilli and garlic risotto.
It would be well worth tasting Antico’s freshly made pasta, which conjured up a sensory food memory of my time in Rome. Hats off to head chef Nicholas Schizas, who oozes such culinary talent and skill. Italian desserts are usually to die for and Antico’s met my sweet tooth requirements. Try the smooth homemade gelato in almond and caramel or the tiramisu. As you can see, it didn’t take very long for this food haven to completely bowl us over and hopefully it will enthrall you too – Bellissimo!