This Italian restaurant opened in November 2017 next to what was once Battersea Power Station. The restaurant is in a terrace of restaurants next door to Brindisa, and has a large terrace seating area looking out over the Thames. It happens to be directly opposite a Thames Clipper drop off point, so you could arrive here by boat. Owned by D&D restaurants, the “chef/patron” is Francesco Mazzei, brought up in Calabria but who has worked in many London restaurants, including as head chef at the now closed St Alban, a Corbin and King eatery, and at L’Anima. More recently he was head chef at Sartoria in Mayfair. The chef in day to day charge of the kitchen here is Pasquale Cozzolino, who worked at Sartoria and also at the much missed L’Anima. The name Fiume, incidentally, is that of a briefly independent (in the 1920s) free state connected to Italy, but is now part of Croatia. The short menu had a number of Italian classics.
The almost all-Italian wine list had 39 labels ranging in price from £23.50 to £225, with a median price of £43 and an average multiple of retail price of a heady 3.6 times, which would raise eyebrows in Mayfair, never mind in Battersea. Sample references were Adria Vini Conviviale Pinot Grigio 2018 at £27 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £8, Valpolicella Classico Allegrini 2018 at £45 compared to its retail price of £14, and Chardonnay Planeta 2017 at £85 for a wine that will set you back £30 in the high street. For those with the means there was Antinori Cevaro della Sala 2016 at £130 compared to its retail price of £56, and the lovely Antinori Tignanello 2015 at £225 for a wine whose current market value is £116. Corkage was a very fair £23.50.
Bread (£3.50) was from a mix of D&D London’s own bakery and an unnamed north London bakery, but the bread that we were served seemed a touch stale. Green olives were better. A starter salad described as avocado shrimp had some quite tender prawns but puzzlingly little avocado, along with boiled potato, capers, frisee lettuce, a hard-boiled egg, green beans, tomatoes, olives and a sprinkling of violets. The latter were quite an intrusive flavour, and rather distracted from what would otherwise have been a pleasant enough Mediterranean style salad (11/20).
A Roman style pizza was better, with a reasonable base and a topping of wild mushrooms and sausage (13/20). Roman style pizza has dough that is left longer to prove and is cooked at a lower temperature for longer than Neapolitan style, resulting in a rather crisper base than the softer Neapolitan pizza base. Tagliolini with crab had pleasant texture and a decent amount of white crab meat, but was troublingly oily; the pasta rested in a large pool of oil (12/20).
Paccheri pasta is a tubular pasta from Campania, served here with lamb ragu, Pecorino cheese and mint. I enjoyed this, the pasta having good texture and the mint, which can be a bruiser of a flavour, being mercifully restrained. Personally I prefer ragu made with the deeper flavours that you can get with wild boar or venison, but the meat flavour here was perfectly pleasant (13/20). A side salad of rocket actually turned up with a mixture of rocket and watercress with a few tomatoes.
Tiramisu had decent sponge fingers but sorely lacked sufficient coffee flavour, which to me is really the main point of a tiramisu (12/20). The bill came to £45 per person, which didn’t include drinks; service was fine if a touch leisurely. A typical cost per person if you shared a moderate bottle of wine would be around £65. Fiume has an attractive setting looking out over the river, and the menu was appealing. The young crowd enjoying the warm summer evening by the river seemed happy enough, but there were several slip-ups in the dish execution. To me this to me seems like a place that is not really fulfilling its potential, given the considerable track record of its executive and head chefs, neither of whom put in an appearance this evening.
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