20 Homer Street
© Helen Cathcart
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Thu Apr 26 2012
A good neighbourhood trattoria should be welcoming, affordable, and have reliably good cooking. Yet London’s trattorias are variable, and the ones in central London in particular are not always good value – hence the success of cheaper, blander pasta and pizza chains. But Briciole, on the northern fringes of Marylebone, has the sort of cooking and low prices that puts smiles on the faces of the whole famiglia.
Briciole (‘crumbs’) is an offshoot of a fancier, more established West End restaurant called Latium. Briciole is far more lively, convivial, and is less starchy that its older sibling – literally, as it uses no tablecloths. There is a modest, low-budget charm to this former pub. To reach its two dining rooms you enter via a caffè-bar and deli, its back bar lined with enticing bottles of Italian wines.
Crumbs find their way into dishes, such as the passatelli, a chicken soup from Emilia-Romagna with ‘noodles’ made from breadcrumbs, egg and just a hint of nutmeg. The dishes derive from many regions. Pizza fritta is a Neapolitan street snack of deep-fried pizza dough pasties with a filling of savoury ricotta cheese and tomato. Then we travel further south to Sicily, and meatballs cooked in the Palermo style; that is, with no breadcrumbs to make the cured meat a firmer texture, but served with onions cooked down with vinegar to give the pleasing ‘agrodolce’ or sour-sweet flavours that are so distinctive in Sicilian cookery.
Shop-bought pasta has improved a lot in the last decade, and so restaurant pasta has to be terrific to compete. But the day’s special – parcels of gnocchi filled with cheese, made at Latium’s kitchen, as are some other dishes – isn’t the sort of thing you find in Waitrose. They are firm on the bite, but melting on the inside, and don’t need more than a reduced tomato sauce to make them a main dish.
Tiramisu is one of the more modern dishes, a dessert dating from the 1980s. But – like the car scene in ‘The Godfather’ – we took the cannoli (and left the gun). This version of the pastry tubes filled with ricotta and candied orange and dusted with chocolate powder would satisfy any sweet-toothed patriarch.
With its meatballs, small-plates menu and plain decor, Briciole feels on-trend almost by accident. There is nothing hip about it. But Briciole is the genial uncle giving you a cigarette outside the back door, the granny plying you with her own-made limoncello. It is a guilty pleasure, like wearing nonna’s fur coat, or finding nonno’s Pirelli calendars. It doesn’t blow the doors off, but it’s like having Italy right here in London.
Briciole 20 Homer Street
020 7723 0040
- Opening hours:
Meals served 11am-10.45pm daily
Tube: Edgware Road tube
Main courses £3-£12. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £65
- 20 Homer Street
- 020 7723 0040
- 20 Homer Street
Restaurant and bar facilities. Take away. Reservations required. Accessible facilities. General facilities. Private rooms. Available for hire. Outdoor facilities. Tables outdoors
- Type of event: