As we sat towards the back of Osteria dell’Arte, the skylight at the center of the roof gave way to warm sunshine. The waiters would chatter away in Italian, soft whispers among the wooden tables and chairs. Closing my eyes, I could easily have been transported back to a little restaurant in Rome, a little cafe on an alleyway in Venice. There was authenticity here that pulled you in gently.
Osteria dell’Arte is a family run restaurant on Clapham’s main street. It’s vibrancy and authenticity was refreshing, given that London’s Italian restaurants have been a bit of a let down in general. They have an amazing deal of 2 courses for £10.95 or 3 courses for £13.95, the dishes are all absolutely delicious, and the way some have been served adds not just to the atmosphere but actually makes the taste more genuine. Everything is done in-house, I am told, from the tagliatelle to the gnocchi.
The crostone al salmone had a perfect balance between smoked salmon and cheeses, and the cheese itself was soft and delicious, very subtle taste so that the salmon was left to be the central ingredient of the dish. Adding a bit of chilli oil (Osteria dell’Arte offers quite a few options to add and customize your dish, as is the Italian way).
Osteria dell’Arte was also the first restaurant who agreed to take part in my new project – “Barely Eating” (thanks J for the name). This project will explore partial male nudity in environments in which we would be totally unaccustomed to see it perhaps: restaurants. Yes – all I want is to have actual #foodporn. Who doesn’t like looking at topless hunks and food in the same time?
Back home in Romania, I used to quite dislike polenta (I used to quite dislike a lot of things; many I still do). Polenta is a dish of boiled cornmeal, and this particular one was topped with lamb that was succulent and tender, and I actually love polenta nowadays. The dish also came on a wooden platter, and what I’m about to say might sound weird, but it gave the dish a slightly “wooden” taste but in a good way! It really reminded me of how my grandpa used to make polenta and put it on a wooden chopping board.
The staff was incredibly lovely, the food was delicious, authentic and affordable, Osteria dell’Arte is definitely a restaurant I will be visiting on a regular basis.