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A showy Marylebone Italian from the man behind Nobu.
There’s nothing modest about the look of Fucina, a cavernous Italian restaurant between Baker Street and Marylebone High Street. It’s been masterminded by Kurt Zdesar, the man behind the likes of Chotto Matte and Ping Pong. Its imposing wooden doors are huge. Inside, the decor screams ‘look at me!’, with its churchy green stained-glass windows and black-marble-lined toilets that look like old Roman tombs. The biggest design statement is an undulating brick ceiling with massive bulges that nod to the shape of upside-down pizza ovens but could lead to nervy customers wondering when the whole thing will collapse.
The food is quiet in comparison to the visuals. It’s based around shared plates of increasing size, under the menu headings ‘Uno’, ‘Due’ and ‘Tre’. Of the small dishes, a spring cabbage salad looked unremarkable, but its mix of young greens, croutons, crispy pancetta and intense blue cheese sang in the mouth. I also liked how they served a subtle chicken liver pâté smeared around a deep bowl, with a sweet saba sauce sitting in a pool at the bottom.
The ‘Due’ section is all about pasta. The rigatoni with 12-hour short-rib ragu sauce was fine, but less exciting than it sounded on paper. But the crab spaghetti in a spiced tomato bisque was good – light, simple, fresh. The real excitement came when we hit level three, the dishes that had been cooked in their micro-furnace aka ‘forge’ (that’s what ‘fucina’ means, Italophiles). This section is pricey but winning. I tried the ‘acorn-fed black Iberian pork shoulder’. The simple slices of medium-rare, top-quality meat were wonderful, soft and full of taste.
At lunchtime, Fucina was laidback, quiet and peppered with men in expensive suits exuding the laid-back air of the very rich. I hear it can be louder and more sceney at night. Quiet is fine with me though: the food here speaks for itself.
26 Paddington Street
|Transport:||Tube: Baker St|
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £165.|
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