Cotidie (“everyday”) opened in March 2012 in Marylebone. It is the first restaurant venture outside Italy of chef/owner Bruno Barbieri, who has earned Michelin stars at several restaurants over the years, and has a high media profile due to being one of the three regular judges on the Italian version of Masterchef. The dining room is smart and understated, with banquette seating, wooden floor and clever lighting. There are no tablecloths, but high quality linen napkins. The menu was rather oddly set out, with starters, pasta and main courses grouped into separate menu sections around meat, fish and vegetables. Starters were priced at £9 - £16, pasta £12 - £17 and main courses £14 – £29, with vegetable side dishes extra at £4.50 and desserts £6.50 - £10. There were 14 chefs working in the kitchen, serving a room that can seat 75 diners at capacity. Considerable care was taken with ingredients, 85% of which are currently imported from Italy, and an idea of the level of effort is that all pasta used here is made from scratch (which is not true of some other top Italian kitchens in London).
The wine list had around 70 mostly Italian choices, ranging in price from £22 to £230, with an average price of £45. Mark-up levels averaged 2.9 times retail price, reasonable by central London standards. Examples of the wines on offer are Flanghina, Capolino Perlingieri 2010 at £32 for a wine that you can find in the high street for just under a tenner, Mas De Dumas Gassac Rouge 2009 at £66 for a wine that retails at £24, and Gaja Ca Marcanda 2000 at £115 for a wine that will set you back £57 in the shops.
This was my second meal at Cotidie. The bread is made from scratch and comprised very good focaccia, excellent whote bread with particularly good texture, crisp flat bread (carte de musica) and, the only relative weakness, bread sticks that were a little too firm (6/10 bread). A trio of nibbles appeared: of polenta with ragu, bruschetta with lentils and snail and, the best of these, red prawn with angel hair patsa (5/10, more for the prawn). Cappelletti (a stuffed pasta from Modena) was filled with scallop and served with little pieces of roast potato, and had lovely texture (6/10).
I also enjoyed duck ravioli with julienne of pear and black pepper (6/10) whilst pan seared cod with chickpea puree and an anchovy salad was also capable (5/10). Dry sherry zabaglione with red fruits and almond croccante was an unusual take on the traditional dessert (5/10). Our waiter, Rocco, was excellent, friendly and efficient. The bill came to £83 a head, including a bottle of Albert Mann Pinot Gris. This was another very enjoyable meal here, many of the dishes unusual in London, and all the more interesting for that.
What follows are notes from a meal in March 2012.
Nibbles consisted of a surprisingly good miniature salad of barley, potato and broccoli with marinated artichoke, the latter delicate and a good balance for the barley. On the side were small tastes of several high quality Italian hams (5/10). Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen, and although the quality varied a little I particularly liked a simple white bread that is a speciality from the Emilia Romagna region (bread 5/10 on average).
Pennoni, a larger version of the more familiar penne tubular pasta, came with vegetable caponata and Caciocavallo (curd) cheese. The vegetables, a mix of tomatoes, courgettes, onion, green peppers and aubergine, were carefully cooked, and the pasta had very good texture (comfortably 5/10). Also very good was spinach flan with cheese sauce and a few pieces of thin garlic bruschetta. The flan was light and delicate, the cheese lifting the flavour and the bruschetta crisps providing texture balance (6/10).
Sea bream fillet was of good quality, was carefully cooked and served with broccoli, resting in a jus of garlic and shellfish. The sauce had lovely depth of flavour, but the broccoli was overcooked, which was a shame (still 5/10, and I would have scored this higher other than for the broccoli). Cacciatore (hunter style) ragu had a mixed meat ragu wrapped in a crisp pasta coating, alongside a béchamel sauce with Parmesan. The ragu was rich, the sauce going well with it, and the crisp container of pasta added an extra texture to the dish (6/10). A simple side salad featured top class salad leaves (6/10).
Rum baba was served with honey cream and candied ginger, but was not quite moist enough, though the honey cream was good (4/10). Better was a classic tiramisu, which had plenty of coffee flavour (6/10). Petit fours were classy. A tuile was very delicate, while a chocolate shell with orange centre, a bitter chocolate, a sweet biscuit and a lemon sponge were all lovely (7/10).
Service was friendly, and although this was only the second week after opening the topping up of water and wine was deftly handled, and dishes arrived at a steady pace. The bill came to £82 a head. Interestingly, virtually every diner on the evening of our visit appeared to be Italian, and the dining room was nearly full on a Tuesday night, so word seems to have spread quickly. Although there were some rough edges, as is to be expected so early in the life of this restaurant, the evident effort involved shone through in several of the dishes. I have scored this 5/10 for now given the slight unevenness, but this has the potential to increase. This kitchen is already producing some of the most authentic Italian food in London.