Neapolitan elite

Neil Littman enjoys lunch at a new Italian restaurant in Enfield Town

Nero di seppia, a dish made from tender fresh cuttlefish cooked in a sauce containing its own ink
Nero di seppia, a dish made from tender fresh cuttlefish cooked in a sauce containing its own ink

Set back from Church Street in the centre of Enfield Town, recently-opened Marcus Kitchen and Bar is that rare thing – an Italian restaurant serving authentic regional food. It’s a challenge, especially when diners are used to menus dominated by pizza and pasta.

In fairness, much of it is dictated by the range and quality of produce available in the UK. Anyone who has been to an Italian food market such as the Quadrilatoro in Bologna will appreciate the difference; dozens of varieties of mushrooms, aubergines of all colours and sizes, misshapen tomatoes that taste and smell of the heat and sun of the region. Borough Market in London is also a good place to check out similar produce.

I have now dined at Marcus twice. The menu is not overlong and is based on both Neapolitan and Sicilian cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. There are vegetarian options as well, plus grilled meat dishes. There is a definite sense of dedication to serious cooking in the kitchen.

My first experience at Marcus was a quick lunch back in November when I bravely sat outside (and froze) while eating nero di seppia, linguine with cuttlefish, and tomatoes in cuttlefish ink. I ordered this as a reminder of a previous encounter with the same dish in Venice at the famous Harry’s Bar. The only thing missing was the view of the boats arriving and departing from the San Marco pier! Even the bread basket at Marcus is unique, with green olive bread and carta di musica, which originates from Sardinia, as thin as the sheet music paper it is named after.

Since then, I have been back for a second helping, a lunchtime meeting with a friend (dining inside this time), which was a much more attractive experience while watching food prepared in the open plan kitchen as tables filled up. We began with fresella, a starter based on bruscetta, then scarpariello (tagliatelle with tomatoes, parmesan and pecorino) and a seafood risotto with mussels, clams, large prawns, octopus and squid. This dish is also available with linguine as an option.

The desert menu looked tempting. This included baba’ al rum, Caprese, a chocolate and almond cake and tartufo nero.

The service is exceptionally good – I was even greeted by my first name on arrival! We also received complimentary shot glasses of strawberry cello, made by infusing vodka, strawberries and vanilla.

One suggestion I would make is that the name could convey more of the authenticity and origin of the establishment with the simple addition of one of the following words in front of Marcus: Osteria, Antica, Ristorante, Sfoglia, Trattoria or Taverna.

Marcus Kitchen and Bar is based at 16 Burleigh Way, Enfield Town EN2 6AE and is open Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm-11pm. Booking is advisable in the evening. A typical meal costs £30-45 per head. For more information and to book:
Visit marcuskitchenandbar.com