Continuing my gastronomic tour around Warwick, Micatto is one of a number of charming and remarkably authentic Italian restaurants in the vicinity – and if I get time I will also give Il Piccolino and Giovanni’s a whirl. As a restaurant to be reviewed, Micatto is up against very steep competition, not least Bocca di Lupo, River Café and La Piazza, all of which left me purring like a warm, well-fed moggy.
Initial impressions are very positive: Micatto has a carefully constructed and inviting ambience, fashioned from a post-industrial lounge equipped with lots of nice retro touches, seating styled on leather chesterfields and a well-staffed open kitchen. Contrary to some reviews, the staff were warm, friendly, charming, helpful and very Italian.
Better than that, I won plaudits from our waiter for accepting his wine recommendation (a fine and not overpriced Dolcelatte Alba – credit to him for selecting a wine to go with the meal, not the priciest Barolo, which was definitely tempting me!) for taking the time to taste it properly and test the colour.
Furthermore, if the restaurant operates a 2-sitting booking system, it did not apply on a Thursday evening. We arrived at 7, ate slowly and departed well past 9, without any attempts being made to unseat us prematurely. Quite the reverse, Micatto was relaxing to a tee and created the perfect mood, starting with bellini, the perfect aperitif even if the peach was a trifle unseasonal (syrup from a bottle?) – something that might also be said of the asparagus on the menu.
Selecting food was indeed a tricky business, given a shortish menu packed with authentic antipasti, primi and secondi from all regions of Italy – and labelled according to their origins. Between us we could easily have started at the top and finished at the bottom, but alas our appetites may well not have extended that far. We ordered one antipasti, a delightful dish of two black pudding slices, each sat atop a small mound peccadillo peppers and finished off with fried quail’s eggs. These were placed at alternative ends of an oblong plate, which my companion pushed together suggestively, much to my amusement – but the food soon had her beaming in delight.
Our other starter was a starter portion of home-made tagliatelle (which was being made freshly in the kitchen) served with a rich and intense creamy mushroom sauce. This dish was bursting with flavour but the pasta could have been slightly more al dente for my taste. Next time I go to Micatto, their rabbit risotto is definitely on the cards – but then I may also want to sample tapas-style from the antipasti menu.
The main courses both proved truly sublime: a healthy chunk of monkfish wrapped in pancetta and served on a bed of wilted spinach and new potatoes; and the most outstandingly macho lamb cutlets, pink in the middle (and definitely the equal of the extraordinarily marvellous specimen eaten at Bocca di Lupo) and served with a healthy smear of smoky aubergine, garlic, lime and mint. It succeeded by combining perfect chunks of meat with earthy flavours in a delicate harmony. With these we ordered creamy cheesy polenta and a beetroot and dolcelatte salad. From my perspective each dish was a perfect specimen in its own right, thoroughly deserving of praise and much savouring.
After a rest we chose pecorino and gorgonzola, each with a variety of accompaniments, plus a limoncillo. The cheese was in prime condition, had taken a healthy break from the fridge in order to acclimatise to room temperature, and pleased in every degree: a buttery gorgonzola melted in the mouth, contrasting with a fruity, earthy mature pecorino.
We left the restaurant with a warm satisfying glow, precisely the sort of feeling you should have acquired after a relaxed and splendid meal, but which fails to materialise on so many occasions. In short, the first evening spent at Micatto was worthy of the finest Italian meals I’ve eaten anyway, which is praise indeed. I hope to return, not least because prices are decidedly reasonable, but then maybe that’s the London effect for you. If you happen to be in Warwick and feel in need of celebrating, this is a restaurant well worth visiting.