Come a Casa
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A meal at Come a Casa isn't for anyone with issues around personal space – you feel like you're elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee with pretty much everyone else in the place. But if you like cheese and wine and perfect pasta in a sweet little neighbourhood joint that's worth crossing town for, you're in luck. It really is tiny – not more than 20 seats around tightly-wedged folding metal tables balancing glassware and mismatched vintage floral crockery, in a square room with bare brick walls and shelves of dried pasta and preserves. This makes accommodating shopping bags or getting up to go to the loo a bit of a logistical challenge – let alone weaving your way about carrying plates of food, if you're on that end of the business. No matter – the food is exceptional, which is even more impressive given that it comes out of a kitchen the size of most people's worktops. All thanks to chef Flavia Frederici and her partner Gianluca Tamorri, expat Italians who are working wonders with the space and through connections with Italian, often Tuscan, producers.
The menu is small, to match the size of the space. There's a handful of starters and sharing plates that are mostly variations on cheese and charcuterie mixed with salads – and what cheese and meat. The evocative names – capocollo, mortadella di prato, finocchiona, mozzarella di Bufala – recall Mediterranean lunches, and each flavour is deep and distinct. We shared a generous board of Umbrian pecorino cheese – firm and salty and utterly delicious, some wedges spicier, some creamier, one smokier and coated in ash. These were teamed with a fruity preserve then crumbled and wedged into slices of a warm seeded homemade brown baguette that came to the table in its own little paper bag. With a couple of fruity glasses of Montepulciano (the wine list covers French and Italian vintages), it was a winning beginning.
Then the mains – you pick from a daily lasagne, daily special, daily soup, and an aubergine gratin, and that's it. We had a pesto lasagne and the plat du jour – langoustine ravioli. Somehow, both contrived to be light as air, the fluffy, creamy fillings between silky sheets of handmade pasta mixing gorgeously with piquant tomatoes and leaves of rocket, make plates of simple satisfaction. With a simple homemade panna cotta to share and coffees to follow, it was all neat, sweet and generally delightful – a definite favourite.