Maremma co-founder Alice Staple is a Leith’s-trained private chef and event caterer with a lifelong love of Italian cooking. The restaurant, named after the picturesque area in Tuscany known for its game and high-quality seasonal produce, is her debut restaurant, and along with head chef Dominique Goltinger (former head chef at Bistrot Bruno Loubet) they have created an authentic taste of Tuscany down a pretty side street in Brixton.
Maremma has taken over the building formerly occupied by the Montego Inn, a long-running Caribbean restaurant and wine bar (the old bar sign is still visible on the stairwell), and reworked it into an elegant yet comfortable space that’s all exposed brick, peeled paint and Edison bulbs contrasted with smart-but-rustic wooden furniture and crisp white table linen. It feels grown-up and welcoming in equal measure. Pale silver walls are inspired by the underside of an olive tree leaf (yes, the attention to detail is strong here). Upstairs is bathed in light from the glass frontage, with the bar – where you can pull up a seat to drink or dine – taking centre stage, while the downstairs wine cellar is a more cosy affair where you can watch the chefs at work from the communal farmhouse table or the counters along the walls.
Staple and Goltinger have put together a concise menu of quintessential Tuscan dishes that really strive to show off the area’s seasonal produce. Importing from small Tuscan suppliers where possible, the attention to quality ingredients is evident in every dish we tried. Our very knowledgeable waiter recommended four or five small plates to share between us, and there was indeed room for that all-important dessert at the end – just! The charcuterie board comes with five types of meat, including wild boar leg prosciutto, and three ages of beautifully sharp Pecorino sourced from Mucci, a specialty shop in Monteverdi Marittimo. The tortelli maremmani with heritage tomatoes and basil is fresh and flavourful, with pasta parcels that melt in your mouth, while the wood-baked guinea fowl with tenderstem broccoli and lentils is fantastic all round – an unassuming dish that packs in a surprising amount of taste. The torta di ceci, chickpea flour pancake, a classic of the area, with artichoke and lashings of salty Pecorino, is a crunchy joy to the palate. To finish, the pear and Parmesan gelato (as innovative as it sounds) proves a fitting end to an evening of fantastic artisanal cheeses, while the affogato has us ready to carry on the night.
The list of cocktails and aperitivi is short but good – Aperol, Campari, Select or Pampelle if you want to go for the traditional spritz, or for something sweeter, the peach rigoletto with gin, lemon, vanilla and crème de peche is a refreshing summer option. It’s the wine list, however, that really steals the show, with its considered edit of liquid Tuscan treasure from small producers – all of which are represented in the UK for the first time.
Around £100 for sharing plates for two, dessert and cocktails/wine.
A great spot for summer drinks and spuntini at the bar, or something heartier with friends – let the specialty cheese, meat, fresh pasta and good wine soothe you like only an Italian sojourn can.
Maremma, 36 Brixton Water Ln, Brixton, London SW2 1PE; maremmarestaurant.com