We confirmed the rumours of Jamie’s Italian hitting our shores in July and now we can tell you exactly what all the hype and excitement was about.
The restaurant, located on Melrose Arch occupies a large double story space. The décor is impressive, but certainly not intimidating and will be a great venue for special occasions but also perfect for family celebrations. The downstairs section of the restaurant is more casual and the signature Jamie’s Italian kitchen is on show, together with the pizza station and antipasti bar. The upstairs area, offers a sophisticated, sexy cocktail bar and the ability to create private dining spaces for special dinners.
We started our meal by sharing a classic meat plank and vegetarian plank. The planks are balanced on cans of Italian tomatoes and are filled with delicious items from the antipasti bar. The meat plank includes pistachio Mortadella, prosciutto and some delicious, creamy buffalo Mozzarella and a side of yummy purple slaw. The vegetarian plank includes some char-grilled veggies, more of that buffalo Mozzarella and grissini to dip into a garlicky chickpea dip and a generous portion of enormous, green tasty olives and caperberries on both planks. Most of us opted for pasta as a main - just because we saw the fresh pasta being produced in the open kitchen and also because it just seemed right to eat pasta at Jamie’s Italian. We weren’t disappointed! The linguine with prawns (R195) is a signature dish for Jamie’s Italian and it isn’t difficult to understand why – the sauce is tomato based one, with fennel, saffron and chilli and a generous helping of decent sized prawns.
The silky spaghetti Carbonara (R115) can best be described as dreamy – it was silky smooth and had very generous amounts of pancetta and Parmesan. Gennaro’s tagiatelle Bolognese is made from slow cooked beef – something different to the normal sloppy, tomato laden Bolognese you might get in other Italian restaurants, this is a rich, meaty pasta. My personal favourite was the porcini fettucine – this is a seriously rich mushroom dish, but such yummy flavours that I managed to finish the entire bowl with ease!
Pastas are cooked “al dente”, which although is the way it should be cooked, isn’t how everyone likes it, so perhaps be aware of that when ordering. There was one meat eater amongst us, who proclaimed the 32-day aged sirloin steak topped in herby butter as quite delicious and cooked to perfection.
Desserts are delicious ice creams from Paul’s Homemade Ice creams, with a selection of toppings. The Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake was velvety smooth and didn’t take long to disappear from the table.
I should also just mention the super-cool kiddies menu that is presented as pictures through an old fashioned 3D view finder. A great way for kiddies to choose their meal and in true Jamie-style, is healthy nosh for kids.
There are some super exciting cocktails on offer at the sexy cocktail bar and those should definitely not be overlooked – although if you aren’t quite up to that, the wine and sparkling/Champagne list is extensive. The wine menu offers a wide selection of local and international wines that are well priced.
There has been a huge investment in training of staff and it is apparent throughout your experience at the restaurant. All the floor staff are friendly and waiters go out of their way to explain each meal and give details on the “daily specials” board. We were very pleasantly surprised at how fast the food came out of the kitchen – a great asset for a restaurant that is serving business lunches that can’t go on all afternoon.
Jamie’s Italian doesn’t promise to deliver fine dining – it is a neighbourhood restaurant that delivers good food, where everybody feels welcome and comfortable no matter what the occasion.
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