There’s barely room to swing a leg of Parma ham in this cute Italian restaurant, which seats diners at a U-shaped counter around an open kitchen and bar; but so long as you’re one of the 20 at that counter, it doesn’t matter a jot. Once you’ve secured your spot, you can look forward to superb, authentic Italian small plates, expertly-mixed drinks and an atmosphere of buzzy conviviality that puts a smile on everyone’s face.
Owner David Toscano (who often sports the biggest smile of them all) is there most days and evenings, pouring bracing Negronis accompanied by fat glossy-green olives and duvet-like focaccia. Meanwhile, the two-man kitchen sends out a succession of small plates bursting with flavour. Nibbles and small plates might take the form of burrata with smashed peas, chillies and mint, Gorgonzola arancino with pistachio aioli or a selection of cured Italian meats, although most people head straight for the silky handmade pastas, crafted fresh on the day.
The main menu is seasonal, but you could find combinations such as ricotta cappelletti with summer vegetable ragu, crème fraiche and summer truffle or tonnarelli muddled with sardines, fresh chilli and pickled figs. Also, don’t miss the sharing boards of superb Italian cheeses and salumi, but do save space for the black pepper panna cotta served with fresh strawberries and strawberry granite or affogato with Tosolini coffee liqueur (a portion of the cost of which is given to The Clocktower Sanctuary for homeless young people in Brighton and Hove) .
Many fans of this dinky gem praise the one-on-one service while others revel in the opportunity to people-watch, whether that’s ogling fellow diners at the counter or simply admiring the ballet of chefs, barman and owner working together in the tiny kitchen. As for us, we love it all – the food, the service and the spectacle.