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.


Amici Miei on Urbanspoon


Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said...

Love both Firezza and Basillico - the former used to do an amazing foot-long chorizo pizza. One area where sarf London has the advantage. Hasn't Due Sardi been open quite a while though?

Chris Pople said...

Katy: Yeah it has, perhaps "a few months" is a bit misleading. It could nearly be a year now.

gastrogeek said...

Great isn't it? We're going back for the third (!) time tomorrow night - all I'm saying is we'd better get a table after this write up! Damn you Pople for spreading the word.

Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said...

Time flies when you're eating pizzas and having fun Chris!

Unknown said...

"It was a dish so astonishing it was almost as if it transported us to another place and time..."

[excerpt from 'Remembrance Of Chops Past' by Chris Proust, 2011]

Miss Whiplash said...

I walk past this EVERY DAY.
This is extremely good news :-)

Monkey said...

I dont know why anyone would bother with either Basilico or Firezza when you've got Donna Margherita right there! Although pretty good bases, Firezza has the most revolting range of toppings and they are all some variation on pepperoni. I eat Donna Margs about once a week and their pizza lesbica is second only to Il Bacio in Stoke Newington!

Pasta Bites said...

So had dinner here last night. Starter was very heavy and lacked salt, should have had the burrata. Pizzas were pretty good but my Malloreddus were nothing like the real thing unfortunately. Great prices, tho - very reasonable.

Donna Margherita is very good! (Or was, as I havent been in about three years)

Jumpin Slap Dash said...

Went there yesterday on your recommendation.

Was pretty impressed overall although sadly no pork chop. Lamb steak very good although could have done with a bit more char from the grill.

Whitebait as special was, whitebait I guess.

Wife had the burrata which was nice and the malloreddus which was agreeable.

Overall, a very welcome new place on the scene although I tend to agree with federilli in that it's not really on a par with the real deal.

Nick said...

The family who run Amici Miei are relatives of the guys in charge of the excellent Due Sardi but actually hail from Naples, not Sardinia, hence the different pizzas and regional pasta dishes and main courses.

The pasta dishes here are my favourite: served al dente and with just the right amount of sauce coating the pasta - very authentic. This is great Italian home-cooking with very good ingredients.

It reminds me a little of the superb Zucca on Bermondsey Street, though it's not quite up to that standard.

Nonetheless, a great neighbourhood restuarant in a neighbourhood that was in need of a great neighbourhood restaurant!

Anonymous said...

Been meaning to post and say "Thank you" for this recommendation for a while now. This is an unexpected pleasure in an unlikely loctaion.
On a number I have not seen the fabled pork chop on the menu yet - but will continue to return in hope of it appearing!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was at Amici Miei. The pizza is good but too small!!! If you have the chance try Rullo's Pizzeria in Camden Town. It is the real Napolitan Pizza <3

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