Sign up to The American magazine's newsletters (below) to receive more regular news, articles and updates on America in the UK.
Tuscany has a special place in my heart. When I first left the US in (year omitted), I spent 6 weeks in Florence and the surrounding region. The glories are countless but food and wine are right up there with Michelangelo. I’m not sure how they feel about Sig. di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, but Dickie Bielenberg and Alice Staple obviously love the food and wine. They’ve just brought it to Brixton ...and straight to my heart!
Maremma is a local place; small and noisy, with little in the way of comfort. The lucky few who get a table are crammed together like the excellent sardines I sampled. Otherwise, it’s backless barstools at a table, kitchen counter or ledge. I neither like nor understand these choices, but I seem to be in the minority. The place was packed, and rightly so. The food is sensational.
Dominique Goltinger heads up the open kitchen and his team work like a well-oiled machine. I watched as they banged out dish after dish; each one picture perfect. Top notch, Italian ingredients are treated with absolute respect in simple, rustic dishes that typify the culinary heritage of this beautiful part of the world.
The aforementioned sardines (£9) were lightly grilled and served with a fine fennel salad and chilli salsa that added more sweet than heat.
Torelli Maremmani with sage butter (£13) was dish of the day, if not the year! Perfect pasta, the creamiest ricotta filling and dripping in butter with crispy sage and parmesan. We shared. Don’t!
Pancetta wrapped quail with borlotti trifolati (£17) brought to mind a very light cassoulet. Trifolati is, very simply, sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley. Tomato gave a bit of acid and the beans made a lovely broth that I slurped right up. On its own, the quail would be too light for this dish. Cleverly, Chef Goltinger wraps it in pancetta. The fat and salt give a better counterpoint as well as keeping the birds juicy.
Wild boar belly (£18) came with balsamic figs, Italian spinach and the best crackling ever. The thinnest spirals of fat, fried to salty crisps are to die for. Slightly gamier than pork, the boar was tender and succulent and the figs a lovely sweet and sour accompaniment.
A bottle of Salustri, Marleo Montecucco Rosso, 2017 (£28) was easily compatible with fish, pasta and meat. A Chianti blend of 90% Sangiovese, with lots of cherry and light tannins. And it’s organic!
A dark, rich, chocolate gelato (£6) came with wonderful Marsala black cherries that weren’t too sweet and fabulous chocolate crisps. Better still, was a Grappa panna cotta (£6), the best in recent memory. Served with thin slices of flat peach in their syrup and a biscotto for a bit of crunch. It takes talent to make a dish look so simple.
The food at Maremma is excellent value. If I hadn’t left with a backache, I’d give the place a 10!