Piccola Cucina is a delightful Sicilian restaurant on Kensington Park Road in Nottinghill.

After my companion and I were seated, Andrea, the owner/manager, took the opportunity to tell us about the ethos behind the newly opened eatery. Fresh ingredients are at the heart of Piccola Cucina’s ethos and are upheld above fanciness and décor, although saying that, the décor is stylish and low key, with exposed brickwork, colourful traditional plates displayed on the walls and traditional tile work.

Piccola Cucina - 1

So how fresh are these ingredients? Well according to Andrea the fish we ate were swimming in the Mediterranean Sea the day before.

So naturally, fish is what we ate.

Lots and lots of delicious fish and seafood, prepared in a number of different ways, with bold Sicilian flavours at the centre of every plate. Andrea left us in the capable hands of a pair of jovial Sicilian waiters, who ordered for us to ensure we sampled the very best the restaurant had to offer. Faced with a menu in Italian, and far too many enticing options to select from, we were more than happy to hand over to the experts.

The antipasti dishes came one after another and exhibited delicious fresh ingredients (as promised) and traditional combinations of flavours – but executed with a certain finesse.

A seabass tartare, made up of small chunks of white fish needed nothing more than the olive oil and lemon juice that accompanied it. This was narrowly trumped by the pink tuna tartare, crunchy with sea salt, and sitting on top of a creamy avocado base (which probably accounts for why it was my preferred tartare). Also included in our first course was a small plate of swordfish rolls. It was the first time I had tasted swordfish prepared in this traditional manner, rolled up with melted cheese, breadcrumbs and a heavenly plump tomato sauce, bursting with flavour. My favourite of the antipasti, the only dish I requested as I just could not go without, was the traditional pamegianio melezane. Oh, the mighty aubergine was cooked to perfection! forming smoky layers sandwiching together oozing parmesan, mozzarella and tomato sauce. It was hands down the best pamegianio melezane I have ever eaten. Delicious and very rich, I began to wonder if I would I have space for the rest of the dishes the kitchen and staff wished us to sample.

Tuna Tartare with Guacamole

Well the evening was turning out to be a meal of firsts, and the pasta or primi course was no different. We were served a duo of pastas: paccheri with scorpion fish and bronze wire drawing trofie with red shrimp and basil. I had neither tasted nor heard about paccheri, scorpion fish or bronze wire drawing trofie. Call me a philistine, or maybe put it down to authenticity of the Sicilian menu.

Both pastas were excellent and served appropriately al dente. The first pasta included chunky bits of the very odd-looking scorpion fish (I later googled it), whilst the second was carried by the lovely taste and smell of aromatic basil.

For secondi we shared a piece of beautifully cooked seared tuna with a bright green pistachio crust and a plate of lightly battered mixed seafood (predominantly calamari).

We enjoyed our sixth and seventh fishy dishes, though not quite as much as the antipasti and primi dishes, probably due to our increasingly full stomachs!

Finally we concluded our meal by sharing a tiramusu, which was one of the tastiest and creamiest tiramsus I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Served in jar and yellow coloured rather than your normal brown and white, it was dusted with cocoa and served with a strawberry and sprig of mint. To be honest this desert didn’t need the frills as its texture spoke for itself: thick and creamy, whilst simultaneously light and fluffy.

We ended our meal watching one of the characterful waiters attempt to perform some magic tricks for the table adjacent to us. Though he was very jolly and full of Italian expressions, he was not that good at magic, as we clearly observed him not-so-subtly pull a coin out of his sleeve while fumbling with a napkin. Luckily the food at Piccola Cucina far outshines the after dinner magic show. The restaurant truly showcases the ingredients and methods of premier Sicilian cooking and will have you looking up holidays to visit the island the next day.

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