Down the quiet end of Kensington High Street sits a little restaurant that seems to have been there for decades. The outer facade and inner trimmings – complete with starched white tablecloths and Romanesque wallpaper command an air of timelessness. It is, therefore, with a little choke on our deliciously dry prosecco as we listen to manager Gianluca recall the history, hard to believe that Acciuga opened but a year ago.
It’s with a genuine glint in his eye and an ever-increasing tempo (fuelled by his enthusiasm) that Gianluca explains the menu to us. There is selection of modern starters and mains on the one side of the menu, brilliantly balanced by a very classical Italian tasting menu that you can design yourself on the other.
We opted for the prosciutto d’anatra and the tartare di tonno to start off our Italian culinary adventure. And what a revelation it was…
The tartare di tonno, as the name suggests, is a tartare of mighty fine tuna, with capers and an anchovy croque monsieur. Beautiful to look at and smile-inducingly good. The prosciutto d’anatra is made up of a duck ham and pistachio liver pate on a bed of leaves with a sweet cherry reduction. The duck is lightly seared on the one side and then cured for a day or two, after which it is smoked and finely sliced before serving. More, please!
We marvel at the fact that the tough hands of an ex-professional rugby player and law-degree holder turned chef, Guglielmo Arnulfo, can conjure up such beautifully presented and delicately flavoured dishes. If the starters were just the prelude, we cannot wait for what mains have in store.
We opted for the tasting menu pasta and went with Gianluca’s recommendation of the Lasagnette all’Albese and Mandilli de Sea al Pesto con Fagiolini e Patate. The latter, quite an Italian mouthful, basically translates to ‘silk handkerchiefs with pesto'; the name attesting to the thin, almost transparent quality of the pasta. Perfectly seasoned, this is a classic Italian dish at its best. The Lasagnette is made according to the Albanese (Alba in Piedmont, that is…) style, and comes with a delicious chicken liver ragout.
We finished up with the most delicious chocolate flan we have ever tasted (served with an After Eight foam and homemade caramel ice cream) and I Classici di Rossana consisting of a miniature panna cotta, cream caramel and coffee bavarese.
Acciuga, 343 Kensington High Street, W8 6NW; acciuga.co.uk