Restaurant Review: Brutto, London
Hidden off a small alley in Clerkenwell is Brutto, Russell Norman’s take on an atmospheric Florentine-style trattoria. From the man who was instrumental in bringing small plates to the UK via Polpo, you know good things are coming. We chanced a walk in on a Friday lunchtime and got a seat at the bar – the perfect spot to watch the bar staff mix Brutto’s famous £5 negronis (yes, I ordered one, obviously). Book ahead if you want a table for dinner or if you’re dining with a larger group.
The lighting’s good, with linen cloths draped over the ceiling lights and the red and white checked tablecloths add a homely Italian feel. We ate deep fried dough ball cuddles with prosciutto and stracchino, Tuscan beef shin and peppercorn stew, green salad with cucumber, celery and tarragon dressing and rabbit pappardelle – all delicious. This is a simple Italian eatery done well that stays true to the food of Florence.
After watching Norman’s The Restaurant Man TV programme 10 years ago, I was fascinated by his passion, knowledge and genuine love of Italian food and hospitality. Reading his latest cookbook Brutto: a (Simple) Florentine Cookbook, is like reading an insider’s guide to Florence. The way he writes makes you want to go and discover all the off the beaten track spots favoured by the locals and immerse yourself in Italian food and culture. In fact, it’s inspired me to book a trip to Italy this summer. His death in November is a great loss to the London restaurant scene but hopefully his legacy will live on through Brutto.