Oakwood’s little Italian gem

Neil Littman discovers one of Enfield’s best restaurants in an unexpected location

Montage of dishes at Lizzie's Cucina
Montage of dishes at Lizzie’s Cucina

I usually go looking for restaurants to review but, for the first time since writing this column, a restaurant came looking for a review – with a request sent to the editor of the Dispatch!

I was curious (as well as impressed by the effort they had gone to) although I did already know about Lizzie’s Cucina through several recommendations and many positive reviews on social media.

Lizzie’s said they wanted to share their experience after receiving an award for ‘Best Restaurant in Enfield’ just two years since opening. True to the name of the award, it was one of the best meals I have eaten locally.

Hopefully after reading this review Dispatch readers will go to discover it for themselves – though maybe not too many, since booking is already tricky with three of us opting for a midweek table after trying two or three weeks in advance.

Oakwood has been a bit of a culinary desert, but Lizzie’s Cucina stands out for good reason. It serves classic Italian food with an emphasis on Sicilian cuisine.

It’s located on a quiet shopping parade near Oakwood Station and, inside, there is a welcoming atmosphere in the long dining room with olive green walls, decorative panels with banquettes and a dark wooden floor. Purple lighting also accentuates the space.

Lizzie’s prices reflect the investment and experience that have gone into providing a dining experience that would not be out of place in Soho or St James’s. There are four choices of house wine at £25 a bottle, or you can spend up to £600 on the upper reaches of their wine list! A pasta main course, dessert and a glass of wine will cost you a shade under £35.

The restaurant kitchen is fronted by chef Carmelo Carnevale, who was born in Sicily and whose credentials include working in St Tropez, Novikov in Mayfair, and globally as a private chef. He also promotes Mediterranean cuisine via the Chef Med website.

The menu is concise; seven antipasti, seven pasta dishes and four mains including fish, scallops, and beef dishes. Our meal got off to an impressive start; nibbles arrived in the form of carta di musica (thin flatbread), stuffed red peppers and soft cheese, some good olive oil with a peppery aftertaste, plus olives and focaccia to mop everything up.

Starters included burrata, buffalo mozzarella with peach, and crab salad. Our mains were black crab tagliarini, rigatoni lamb (ragu), seabass fillet with saffron in a sauce with olives, plus a side dish of caponata (a Sicilian dish consisting of chopped fried aubergine and other vegetables in an ‘agrodolce’ sauce which is both sour and sweet). Every dish arrived on curated plates. For dessert, we ordered panna cotta, tiramisu and a liquor coffee.

Ultimately, the quality of the food was as important as the presentation (and good service) and I thought it was faultless. Good ingredients, well cooked and served.

A companionable silence descended on our table when each course arrived, punctuated by approval afterwards.
Our bill for three including service (13.5%) and drinks was £208, so this is not on the cheap side. As I mentioned earlier, booking is essential.

Lizzie’s Cucina can be found at 85 Bramley Road, Oakwood N14 4EY. It is open Monday-Thursday, 6pm–12am; Friday 12pm–4 pm and 6 pm–12 am; Saturday 12pm–12am; and Sunday 12pm–6 pm. To book:
020 8886 5797
Visit lizziescucina.co.uk

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