Briciole (meaning breadcrumbs in Italian) was roughly sectioned into the cafe bar (where you could swing by for proper-looking Italian sandwiches, delicacies and espresso) or the restaurant (where you could book and, well, relax over Italian dishes). And truly there were a few niceties about the place – a neighbourhood bustle, a bright, rustic & airy setting, and a ludicrously cheap price (no item on the menu soared above £12). The menu was staggeringly large – salami, formaggi, salad, soup, pasta, fritti and grill dishes, meat balls & sausages, vegetables, and desserts. But, given all that, I didn’t like my meal at Briciole.
While “cheap” bills aren’t synonymous for bad meals (as many of my meals have proved), I found my dishes at Briciole too budget for my liking. Mozzarella (£6) boast dainty whiteness and firm texture. The milky-ness shone through pleasantly. It was easily the best of the entire meal. Finocchiona/Pork & Fennel Salami (£3) was thinly sliced but there was barely any fennel perfume. Arancini (£3) was correctly deep fried for a crispy skin and promised, visually, some cheesy stringy-ness. Sadly, the faint tomato-y redness infusion did not contain tomato flavour (or stock) to justify the visual yummy-ness, and therefore, the balls had no other taste but rice. Tagliolini with Seafood Sauce (£9) had potential, if the tagliolini itself weren’t cooked to “Greasy Spoon pasta” softness. While the seafood was not overcooked, the tomato sauce faded distinctly in taste. A pinch more salt would bring out the flavour. Veal Ravioli with Sage Butter (£8) was more successful, albeit marginally. The casing had a nice al dente texture; the filling was relatively deep and adequately nice. No trace of sage was spotted. I was also not impressed by Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (£5). Plump as they were, the texture of the balls were not convincingly porky but a domineering mixture of flour and crumbs. That said, the tomato sauce had a taste of tomatoes. Grilled Vegetables (£4) extinguished my little remaining faith in Briciole. Each piece was charred and grilled as if for a dehydration effect. Should one question for a £4 dish? I (stubbornly) insisted in trying the dessert (The Other Bib had given up entirely and nudged me to go for a Chilli Queen instead). And I shouldn’t. Tortino (£3) was a cheesecake of ricotta, cinnamon and chocolate with vanilla sauce. Amazing that it did not positively capture any of those billed flavours. Plain and a disgrace to my tearful minutes spent at the gym.
I am a believer that Italian cuisine is simple and beautiful. It can easily be executed to great effects by means of decent ingredients. Briciole failed this. The £52 something bill between two with a processed orange juice (no wine) might seem a convenience to the wallet. But.. thinking this… £28 can buy a 3-course set lunch at Michelin starred Italian restaurant Semplice (not far from Briciole/been a few times and always high standard) or you can spend a morsel of that amount for superb Deli takeaway from Melograno Alimentari (a lot farther from Briciole though) whose meatballs are way more delicious. Or.. thinking this.. you can work a little harder, buy some decent ingredients and cook your own Italian at home. As for now, this whole thing about Briciole was, in due respect, too cheap for its own good.
And the last photo was my own “extra” effort.. a basic saffron risotto (with pomegranate, rocket leaves and parmesan).
20 Homer Street
Tel. 020 7723 0040