For those wanting an authentic taste of Italy combined with a relaxed atmosphere, look no further than Cucinetta.
Tucked away in Portland Road, Worthing, Cucinetta is a small Italian café/bistro which provides clean, tasty and wholesome food at a reasonable price.
On Saturday night, my partner Natalie and I were given a warm welcome at the restaurant by co-owner Marco Renzulli and waitress Kati Arnold-Jones. Fresh tulips and candles were on the tables, and subtle background music helped to set the mood.
To start, I had cozze semplici (steamed mussels with onion, garlic and white wine £5), while Nat chose funghi con pancetta (garlic mushrooms with pancetta and cream £4.50). The mussels, presented in their shells, were succulent and full of flavour. The white wine and fresh parsley really came to the fore in this fragrant dish.
Nat’s mushrooms were plentiful and the creamy sauce was rich and thick. A generous serving of hot ciabatta was perfect for mopping up the sauces.
The warm finger towel provided afterwards was a nice touch and delivered in a way we had not seen before.
For the main course, Kati recommended pollo pescatora (sliced chicken breast, with tiger prawns, mushrooms, tomato and cream £12.50). This dish was served with Italian style new potatoes and roasted Mediterranean vegetables.
As a seafood enthusiast, the sheer size of the prawns put a smile on my face before I had even taken a mouthful, they were huge. Flavour burst from every aspect of the dish and the portion size meant there would be no need to snack for the rest of the night.
Nat opted for the rustic stinco d’agnello (braised lamb shank in tomato and herb sauce with creamy black pepper mash and roasted Mediterranean vegetables £13.50) and was full of high praise for the tenderness of the meat. The lamb fell off the bone and melted in the mouth.
Italian desserts are some of our favourite sweet foods, so we relished tucking in to the crème caramel with white chocolate ice cream and wild fruit compote (£5).
As with the previous dishes, the presentation and flavours were first class. The heat of the warm wild fruits contrasted nicely with the ice cream, and the texture of the compote was light and creamy.
With chain restaurants dominating the high street it was refreshing to know that an independent eatery such as Cucinetta was more than capable of holding its own. In fact, in my opinion, it totally outclassed them.
For fantastic Italian cuisine look no further.
Visit www.cucinetta.co.uk for more information.