Acciuga in Kensington
Acciuga is not your typical Italian restaurant; you won’t find pizza here. Instead the head chef at the Kensington restaurant, Guglielmo Arnulfo, is insistent that Acciuga only serves the “real Italian cuisine” of his picturesque region of Liguria. The restaurant is minimalist with a touch of Italian authenticity, from the huge bottle of wine in the corner to the all-Italian staff that announce “prego” as they hand you the menu.
Starting off the meal, we chose a glass of wine to compliment the main course. The highly attentive and well-informed staff recommended the white wine of their region immediately: the Colli di Luni Etichetta Nera Vermentino DOC Lunae Bosoni 2011 was crisp yet had a sweet after-note. Before our antipasti was served, we were treated to what the waiter called the “pre-starter” – not our first surprise dish of the evening. Served on small black tiles, crisp pieces of garlic focaccia were topped with melted mozzarella, tomatoes and covered in fresh cress; a bite of pure Italian perfection.
We opted for two antipasti, but judging from the portion size of the Tagliere di Salumi di Terra (selection of cured meats), one was big enough to share between two people. The Fiori di Zucchino Ripieni (stuffed courgette flowers) were intricate and cleverly formed, filled with a mix of vegetables, potato, and spice, then breaded and deep-fried, to create a truly satisfying taste experience.
After this appetising beginning, the main course followed. With such a wide range to choose from, from lasagne to octopus, we decided to go for their unusual yet authentically Ligurian veal dish, Lingua di Vitella Bollita con 3 Salse. Before ordering the boiled veal tongue, the waiter explained exactly how the dish was cooked. The tongue was boiled beforehand, but served slightly warm. The dish came delicately wrapped with a red flower garnish, served with Béarnaise sauce, pesto, and balsamic vinegar. It was as strange as eating a veal tongue was ever going to be, however, it was one of the head chef’s Ligurian specialities. Arnulfo chooses only female veal sourced from Liguria because he believes that the grass they graze on affects the taste of the meat.
Following the main dish, we had the most impressive part of the dinner – the dessert – which was preceded by the surprise “pre-dessert”. The pre-dessert was an assortment of brownies, delightful piped meringue gems, and spoons of custard cream and lime, topped with hazelnuts, with a dark chocolate centre.
It was difficult to choose a dessert from the short yet appetising list, but we ordered the Chocolate Flan and the Peach and Champagne Sorbetto, both of which were different from expected. The sorbetto was served as a Bellini (a peach and champagne cocktail) in a flute, but was frozen and served with a long dessert spoon. It was refreshing to see a classic twist on both the Bellini and London’s frozen margarita trend. The flan was equally surprising; from the outside it looked like a brownie and did not have the jelly-like texture. Instead the middle had a gooey, warm chocolate centre that deliciously oozed chocolate.
Photos: Krish Nagari
To book a table at Acciuga, 343 Kensington High Street, London W8 6NW, call 020 7603 3888 or visit here.