Thursday, 27 October 2011
Amici Miei, Shoreditch
A good, reliable delivery pizza place is a rare and precious thing. Everyone has their own particular favourite, although it seems certain areas of London are better served than others. Where I am in Battersea, for example, I get to choose between Basilico (I only ever order the one thing - the funghi au truffle, pricey at £15 for 13" perhaps but worth every penny) and Firezza, who do these huge metre-long affairs which are great for drunken parties. Over in Shoreditch though, aside from the usual nationwide crap (anyone who's favourite delivery pizza is Dominos needs to take a long, hard look at themselves) there were slim pickings for pizza fans, and so when Due Sardi opened a few months back I started getting excited texts from a friend who lives over there, raving not just about the pizzas but also their selection of takeaway pasta dishes. Due Sardi has obviously been welcomed with open arms by greedy Shoreditchites, as they seem to have scraped together the cash to buy the shop next door and convert it into Amici Miei, an utterly brilliant local Italian restaurant.
In an early effort to keep this post from getting embarrassingly gushy, I will start with the pizzas, which ironically given the way these guys made their name, aren't the best things they do. They're very good of course, just not perfect, let down mainly by the base which isn't quite as rich and bubbly as those from class-leaders Franco Manca. But base issues aside, my Speck pizza (£10.75) was still hugely enjoyable, topped with a good thick layer of gooey mozzarella, a generous coating of salty speck and some powerfully flavoured cherry tomatoes. I read somewhere about Due Sardi getting a lot of their ingredients shipped over from Sardinia, and whether true or not the flavours all certainly feel very authentic.
The Amici Miei burrata is a huge gorgeous fluffy thing, the inside creamy enough to still retain some shape when cut. It's presented on a bed of cold sliced aubergine studded with powerful (presumably home made) basil pesto, and it's all seasoned just so the fresh cheese is still the most important element. At £6 this was one of the more pricey starters, I'm assuming due largely to the stunning burrata itself, but even so £6 is very good value for ingredients of this quality.
And then, joy of joys, the greatest pork chop I've ever tasted in my life. Firstly, it was perfectly cooked, with crunchy charred fat on the outside and just pink around the bone within. It was also clearly an incredibly good bit of pig, the porkiness and thick ribbons of fat reminding me of the version at Dinner, although here it was a frankly ludicrous £10 instead of the £28 they charge at Heston's place. And if this huge chunk of heavenly meat wasn't enough, it came served with the most silky, buttery potatoes you can imagine, a generous handful of sage infusing both the vegetables and the meat with the wonderful aromas of a Mediterranean afternoon. It was a dish so astonishing it was almost as if it transported us to another place and time; it was only after I got home I realised I had sage butter all over my jeans.
See, I told you I would get gushy. And yes, I've only been once so maybe I should offer the possibility we accidentally struck absolute solid gold on our first visit and return trips will fail to recreate that initial dizzying high. But I know for a fact there is some serious talent at work in the kitchens of Amici Miei, nurtured by owners who know London just as well as they know Italy - if we have Zucca and Trullo to thank for this new wave of world class Italian restaurants at bargain basement prices then we also have to thank people like Amici Miei for taking that torch and running with it. It was relatively quiet there last night; perhaps the awful weather kept customers away, or word of this astonishing new restaurant is yet to leave the environs of Kingsland Road. But it will, and soon. So go now, and go often.