Quartieri in Kilburn
Say pizza and you think Italy. Say it again and you think Naples. That’s where the story of Quartieri begins, with a long friendship between Tony Carelli and a family member of the historic pizzeria Trianon al Vomero who – after over ten years of knowning each other – finally decided it was time to bring a taste of it to the British capital. They called it Quartieri, which means “neighbours” in Italian, because they want it to be a neighbourhood restaurant. The bright decor and the exposed brickwork grant it a very contemporary feel; the tables are wide – some are also joint as communal tables – and along one of the sides of the room there’s an impressive wall of herb plants.
From the mozzarella di bufala to the wine, all the produce is sourced from independent Italian producers – even the draught beer, brewed by the Birrificio del Ducato in Parma, extraordinary in both its ale and lager versions. The menu offers all the classic starters (bruschetta, caprese, frittura) and pizzas (marinara, margherita, calzone) from the Neapolitan site, but on top of that adds a more innovative take in the “something different” section.
We go very traditional with our antipasti. Coming at just £4, the Bruschetta is a reall winner: the tomatoes are nicely marinated – and abundant – with well-balanced punchiness given by the garlic and the oil. I’m not a huge fan of fried food and the risk of falling on unforgettable greasy experiences, or undeclared frozen products, but we have the Frittura (mixed fry) nevertheless. It’s light and clearly homemade, and it comes also with small arancini, which in Naples are actually known as ‘e palle ‘e riso.
The pizzas – cooked by a Neapolitan pizzaiolo hailing from the original family restaurant – are (naturally) the main focus of the menu. We try the Margherita – because that’s where every respectable pizzeria shines, on the simple but hard to nail flavours – and the more experimental Giallo del Vesuvio. They both are reasonably a ruota di carro (when the crust exceeds the size of the plate) and, more importantly, the dough is really good. We realise it immediately, with no sign of sogginess – thanks also to the traditional oven, beautifully covered with broken tiles from Vietri (a town on the Amalfi Coast) – but it becomes clear the next day when at home we heat up in the oven what we couldn’t finish. The Margherita test is passed. The yellow (giallo) pizza is great too – I’m a sucker for pizza bianca (white, without tomato sauce), contrary to my fellow diner – covered with thin slices of guanciale (jowl bacon) that heavenly melt in the mouth.
As I anticipated, we make the sensible decision of saving some of it for the following day – which I recommend – and choose to try a couple of the desserts. Most of the options are written over a pegboard and we pick the Straccetti Quartierella and the Tiramisu. The straccetti are basically sugar-coated fried slices of pizza dough, covered with homemade chocolate spread; the tiramisu…well, I’m sure it doesn’t need any introduction. Having both the Frittura and the Straccetti in the same meal is a bit of a push, but just like the starter course, they are light and enjoyable.
In London it’s Neapolitan pizza mania and, thanks to Quartieri, Kilburn residents are lucky enough to enjoy a share – or, more appropriately, a slice – of it.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina (except featured)
To book a table at Quartieri, 300 Kilburn High Rd, London NW6 2DB, call 020 7625 8822 or visit here.