A Slice of Southern Italy
Proper Neapolitan pizzas, hearty portions and well sourced Italian wine are on the menu at Quartieri
Review by Martin Stickley
Kilburn is still (rather unfairly) seen as a bit rough around the edges, in reality it’s just another up-and-coming area of London which is steeped in multiculturalism. With its thriving music scene, and an abundance of independent shops and bars, Kilburn is also starting to see a rise in decent eateries. One of the restaurants aiming to make its mark on the area is Quartieri, an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria which has just opened near Brondesbury station. The team behind Quartieri have one thing in mind, to use traditional cooking techniques and high quality, seasonal produce to create menu which brings a slice of Italy to North London.
First impressions of Quartieri are that they’ve given a lot of thought on how to make the restaurant a pleasant place to dine. Although the arrangement of the tables in the dining area was a little cramped (something which I’m sure they’ll smooth out once they’ve bedded in) the decor leans towards the organic giving the restaurant a comforting feel. One entire wall is reserved for live foliage including chillies and potted herbs making the illusion that you’re eating in the hanging gardens of Babylon.
The menu is simple, offering enough choice without befuddling diners with too many options. There is a choice of five or six starters, classic traditional Neapolitan pizzas (such as Marinara, Puttenesca and Margherita), a more specialist section and of course the desserts.
For starters we opted for the Bruschette and the Frittura (a selection of fried Neapolitan delights such as crocché and arancini). Anyone can chop tomatoes and vegetables and serve it on toast but the bruscetta at Quartieri is fresh and zesty, and definitely a great place to start. The Frittura are also extremely good. Personally I adore arancini and the ones on offer here were a savoury delight. Had we known how large the main courses were going to be, we might have held back on the antipasti but it’s very hard with such a wonderful selection on offer, portion wise, either dish would have been plenty to share between two people.
For the main I opted for one of the classics; a Salsiccia e Friarielli and my partner went for the Ortolana from the specials selection. The Friarielli combines Caserta sausages, friarielli (a roasted, broccoli-like vegetable) and smoked provola cheese. The smoky cheese and the rich meaty sausage really work well with the crunchy, slightly charred friarielli. The Ortolana is a vegetarian bonanza featuring San Marzano tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, courgettes and basil. The closest thing I could relate this pizza to is a hearty French ratatouille but in pizza form. It is unbelievably tasty.
At this point it’s probably best to point out that the Quartieri’s menu is traditionally Neapolitan therefore what you see on the ingredients list is what you’ll get as a topping. If the dish doesn’t list tomatoes then the pizza doesn’t have a typical tomato base which you may be used to elsewhere, the same goes for the cheese. The friarielli doesn’t have tomato and the Ortolana does not come topped with cheese. Neither of these things should bother you as both are seriously delicious but some diners may want to take note lest they be surprised.
Despite sharing two starters and a pizza each, I thought it would be rude not to sample one of the desserts so we decided to share a rather delicious cheesecake to round off the meal. We chose a strawberry version, the topping was light and creamy and the base just the right weight after the two previous courses. Moving away from the food, the drinks menu includes a carefully curated selection of Italian wines, beers and soft drinks. Much of the wine sourced from independent wine makers from the Naples region and the beer is from award winning brewery Birrificio del Ducatto in Italy completing the Italian authenticity.
Enquiries: Quartieri, 300 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 2DB / 0207 6258822/ www.quartieri.co.uk