Brickoven Milano in Chiswick
Directly behind a bus stop with traffic teeming from all sides, the setup seems a little incongruous – but Brickoven Milano, already with five branches in its eponymous hometown, is clearly serious about bringing something of that city to its first international outpost.
The mood is set with a vine-clad frontage recalling a typical Italian vista, while large balcony-style windows capture yet more of the Mediterranean. The Italian facsimile continues apace inside, but the scene feels more like Dante’s Inferno than Roman Holiday at first.
Service is slow, the menu unwieldy; Specials are withdrawn after we’ve ordered them, and it seems like our waiter is on his first day as he grapples with basic questions (somewhat endearingly, he later admits he is.) It’s something of a mess but not without heart, and by the end of the night there seems to be a little more order.
Eventually, from a relatively small selection of starters, we began with Faggotini of breasaola with robiola, served with salsa verde, rocket and cherry tomatoes. Frustration quickly melted away. This was a soft and simple dish where the quality of the ingredients shone brightly, the robust salsa marrying adeptly with the cheese and ham.
Of similar standing was a Cheese Platter: an immense selection of fine Italian cheeses (including a standout, peppery parmesan) accompanied by a sweet onion marmalade and tangy, tingling chilli relish of the highest order. A snip at £10 for a rather large platter, this was the kind of dish that could easily send you detouring via Chiswick at the drop of a hat.
Where our starters were all simplicity and style, the mains showed another side of this Italian adventure. Here there was a deluge of choice and ideas, with little planning or explanation on the menu or from the staff.
Cheeseburgers sit alongside salmon fillets. Grills are served with “three types of rice and fries” and offered with a diverse selection of sauces – it’s momentarily reminiscent of a branch of a Midlands Harvester as opposed to a Milanese Pizzeria. And all this before you get to the selection of yeast-free pizzas for which Brickoven Milano truly stakes its name.
We ordered a Caraibe Pizza – topped with prawn, crab meat and parsley – daring the kitchen to produce flavourless fish and putrid parsley. It did nothing of the sort. The piquant tomato sauce mixed expertly with the excellent fish, the generous parsley providing an uplifting end. The yeast-free pizza is thin, crispy and utterly exquisite.
The Brickoven Beef Fillet also delivered fully, the meat tender and full of rich, almost gamey flavour. The mash was creamy and luxuriant, and although we didn’t quite get the spice we were expecting in a Porcini and Sichuan Pepper sauce, the mushrooms added a full, earthy tone to a great dish.
As with the starters, the dessert menu was again somewhat restrained, with classic Italian favourites like Tiramisu alongside a handful of more freeform dishes. We opted for a Honey and Ricotta Tart: here the honey was perfectly set against the creamy cheese for a smooth, almost melodic ending to our meal.
Overall, Brickoven Milano does a fine job of providing authentic Italian flair to its new London venture. Though suffering from teething troubles and at times comically disorganised, it is nonetheless deeply charming, caring and altogether delicious.
Brickoven Milano: 46/60
To book a table at Brickoven Milano, 66 Chiswick High Road, W4 1SY, call 020 8994 5834 or email them here.