Garum in Bayswater: “A powerful reminder of the pleasure of eating a perfectly cooked pasta dish”
Roman funky restaurant Garum lies right in the midst of fast-food chains, directly in front of the tube station — hardly where you’d expect to find a good meal. And yet, once you step inside, you’re met with genuine Italian hospitality, instantly feeling the character of a place that celebrates the cuisine of Rome.
Garum’s interiors are shaped by those who frequent it. Those bottles hanging in the windows? It began as a joke, but soon, more joined the display. And the writing on the walls? During the last touches of refurbishment, with no boards available, they used a marker on the red bricks for essential signage. What started as necessity soon became a tradition. Perhaps it was a nod to those childhood scoldings over wall doodles, but guests began inscribing memories and cheeky sayings for all to see. The result? A snug space, brimming with passion and playful charm.
Chef and co-founder Arcangelo Dandini comes from a family of restaurateurs in Castelli Romani, a picturesque area just south of Rome, and has been devoted to the best local cuisine since his youth. His partner, Francesco Fantinel, adds a vibrant soul from creating the cocktails to leading the way with the decorations, among the many other things he oversees.
The drinks menu boasts three sections that merit careful consideration. Alongside an equally captivating non-alcoholic range that features rosemary tipples and blackberry infusions, there are twists to the Negroni, signature cocktails – each named after Roman boroughs – and a selection of Italian wines spanning from the North down to the South.
Lazio might sometimes be overshadowed by other Italian regions. By folklore, its cooking is often seen as more modest and relaxed. Osterie, ubiquitous in the region, champion traditional dishes, especially pastas crafted out of necessity from the simple ingredients at hand. At Garum, this legacy is honoured: mouthwatering starters followed by pasta – traditionally al dente and with a sauce that doesn’t drip.
We kick off with an on-the-spot aperitivo, raising our glasses to a Rione Monti. Here, the Ojo de Dios Mezcal provides depth, with smoky undertones unfolding with each sip, while the martini Er Colle offers a lighter touch, its citrusy hints mellowing the strong presence of the Evan Williams Bourbon. On the food front, eagerly anticipated (given this writer’s own Roman roots) is the triumphant trio of Supplizio. Often mistakenly confused with arancini/e (more commonly found outside of Italy), the supplì aligns with its Sicilian counterpart only in being fundamentally a breaded, fried rice ball. The distinctions lie in its simpler ingredients, a sauce reminiscent of ragù, double-coating, and a gooey mozzarella core. Garum’s trio includes a traditional one, another with a provola cheese center and a potato croquette to round it off. We also try the Fried Courgette Flowers and Pallotte Cacio e Ova. The latter, known as the “meatballs of the poor”, swaps out meat for bread, resulting in non-greasy bites that go beautifully with our drinks
Turning to the mains, they are a powerful reminder of the immense pleasure of eating a perfectly cooked yet “simple” pasta dish. Rigatoni alla Carbonara celebrates the ridged pasta, enveloped in a lush egg yolk combined with authentic guanciale. Distinctly not bacon. Pepper is left to the diner to add as desired. As we enjoy the delectable sauce, the tannic and bold Cesanese Superiore, Silene, by Damiano Colli (2021) serves as a great pairing. Instead of the risotto, we opt for Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, which is as creamy as the carbonara. The unexpected match with a Vernaccia di Oristano, Juighissa (2013) is a standout. Keeping with the mood, a contemporary and lively playlist further draws us into the Roman vibe, transported to London
How can a visit to an Italian restaurant be truly complete without trying their Tiramisu? Presented in a cappuccino cup, the dessert could’ve used a tad more fridge time to let the somewhat runny mascarpone cream set to the right consistency. The Xoco nibs on top, without added sugar, provide a hearty cocoa crunch and come with an ethical backstory. The other pudding on the table is a subtle goat cheese ricotta, paired with sour cherries and toasted almonds
Just a stone’s throw from Marble Arch, Garum is a perfect neighbourhood restaurant. Here, the genuine warmth starts with the welcome at the door and lingers long after you’ve left. Without cutting corners on food quality or drink variety, dining here feels like a heartening pacca sulla spalla (pat on the back) – in the style of the Eternal City.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Garum, 68 Queensway London W2 3RL, call 020 3149 8847 or visit their website here.