It’s no wonder the well-heeled denizens of Belsize Park parked on Ballaró’s lime-leather seats are smiling. Sicilian chef Carmelo Carnevale (ex-Novikov Italian Room) and his front-of-house partner certainly know what they’re doing – the welcome is warm, the glasses are chilled and the salt-baked sea bass is served with a sense of occasion. The restaurant takes its name from the famous food market in Palermo, and Carnevale has an Italian’s reverence for quality ingredients, cooking food from his native island with a light touch – ‘no schtick, no gloop, no pretension’, according to one visitor. Elegant marinated tuna with borlotti beans, vanilla and Trapani sea salt might precede Sicilian couscous with seafood or rack of lamb with pumpkin, braised radicchio and orange-blossom water; after that, there’s tiramisu or pecorino with honey, while the wine list offers plenty of choice – as long as it’s Italian.
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