Every restaurant opened by the outrageously handsome and talented Francesco Mazzei has turned to gold; from L'Anima to Sartoria and Radici. His latest offering, Fiume (meaning river) in the colossal Battersea Power Station development on the River Thames is no exception.
Wind around the edge of the Thames, duck under the colourful ‘Power’ archway, and in the shadow of Battersea Power Station is Fiume. Translating as river, the contemporary Italian Calabrian and Sardinian inspired brasserie sits in front of a water feature that reflects the golden hue of the recently renovated chimneys towering above.
The glamorous river front dining terrace will be buzzing come summer; for now, chairs are cosy banquettes are weighed down with blankets and faux furs to snuggle up under, among lemon and olive trees, patio heaters and fragrant pots of rosemary and lavender. It manages to make sitting outside even with freezing temperatures enticing.
Inside, the restaurant's decor reflects the menu - it is smart yet relaxed with lots of photos evoking 'la dolce vita'. The room, framed around the open-plan kitchen, is well spaced with teal leather seating, lots of marble, dark wood and copper. There's counter dining at the bar for cocktails and quick plates of cicchetti - fried calamari with pea puree to crostini draped with mozzarella, anchovies and roasted peppers and outstanding garlic flat breads with brilliant crisp texture made to order in the incredibly sleek wood-fired pizza oven on full view.
Do try the cocktails, especially the White Negroni Del Mazzei with Tanqueray gin, rosolio (rose liqueur), Cocchi Americano vermouth and a stick of three plump Nocellera olives.
The menu proper embraces the Mezzogiorno; Southern Italy from Calabria to Sicily.. Antipasti includes a perfect wobbly burrata stunningly presented with roasted bitter radicchio. Slow cooked octopus is perfectly tender and partnered with an aromatic cannelloni bean broth.
All the handmade pasta dishes sound enticing, it is difficult to choose. Tortellini with yes, more burrata, lived up to their promise with a generous shaving of black truffle, roast hazelnuts and spinach. Try too wonderfully zingy crab tagliolini with dill and Amalfi lemon zest. More comforting is a gloriously rich Welsh lamb ragu with fettuccine.
Even without Francesco Mazzei hands-on in the kitchen, Francesco Chiarelli who also worked at L'Anima and Sartoria is turning out trail-blazing dishes. Sardinian speciality fregola is fragrant with tomato and herbs, the fregola (a tiny pasta) retains a good bite and is topped with momentarily caramelised scallops, prawns and mussels. It's an excellent dish though we'd have liked another prawn or two. Seabass delicately cooked with tomato, caper, anchovy.
Do not leave without trying the zucchini fritti, utterly moreish whisps of courgette fried crispy.
If bergamot cream is on the dessert menu, it is beautifully fragrant and finished with raspberry sorbet and shards of chocolate.
At weekends, there will be an 'Italian Job" brunch menu.
Our one caveat is that service was slow if charming on our visit; we felt the kitchen needs to get more up to speed to get dishes out more rapidly and some of the waiting staff appeared rather in a day-dream.
The prospect of wine tasting dinners and cookery classes hosted by Francesco Mazzei himself adds to the allure.
As part of the Battersea Power station redevelopment Fiume is joining a burgeoning collection of London's culinary favourites. Mother, the Copenhagen Pizzeria is already open. Wright Brothers opens imminently. The owners of Ducksoup are planning to open 'Duckroad', and chef/restaurateur Vivek Singh has announced he will be opening a second Cinnamon Kitchen there as well.
Price: dinner for two £100.00+ with wine
|What||Fiume restaurant, Battersea Power Station, London|
|Where||Fiume, Unit 24, Circus West, Battersea Power Station, Battersea, SW11 8EZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Battersea Park (overground)|
16 Nov 17 – 18 Oct 18, Opening times tbc