Fazenda reminded us of the kitchen of a favourite aunt – if only we had such vivacious Italian relatives that loved cooking as much as owner Antonio Battisti and his family from Rome.
It feels like an extension of their home, where they proudly share the things they love most: coffee, simple food and modern art. The combination is quite unexpected, considering the Petticoat Lane Market location.
Sacks full of coffee beans, and their aroma, meet you upon entering this tiny space of just a few rickety tables, untreated wooden floors and Bialetti coffee-makers. The coffee beans are supplied by a small distributor in Rome, and an americano impressed with its lavish flavour and caffeine kick.
The food’s a range of simple dishes that will smother you with flavour – there’s no skimping on seasoning, or olive oil that’s bought directly from Antonio’s father-in-law’s farm in Italy.
Since they’re still waiting for a full restaurant licence, everything is pre-cooked at home by Antonio’s wife. With this in mind, the best dishes are those that benefit from a bit of ‘resting’, such as a flavoursome pumpkin soup as bright and intense as the Mediterranean sun.
A slab of beef dusted in flour then fried was a joy to eat with either quality slices of bread or al-dente rotelle (a wheel-shaped pasta) and a mozzarella salad.
Less successful was cod baked in foil with a tomato paste, which was dried out from re-heating. But the cakes are fresh – even the simplest sponge cake layered with chocolate custard and soaked in vodka tasted unashamedly sensational.
Prices pleased, too, beating nearby competitors.
The basement space is given to displays of modern art and a sofa for lounging. But when the sun comes out, the seats perched just outside, in front of the big front windows, will be the perfect spot to sip espresso and nibble on salami.