Ostuni Restaurant Queens Park
Ostuni Restaurant – Queens Park, 43-45 Lonsdale Road, NW6 6RA
Ostuni Restaurant – Highgate, 1 Hampstead Lane, N6 4RS
020 7624 8035 /firstname.lastname@example.org
Ostuni opened its doors in 2013 to the citizens of Queen’s Park as London’s first restaurant focussing on the food and wine of Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. The restaurant is named after a hilltop town known as the ‘white town’ and in 2016 a second Ostuni opened in Highgate, another hilltop town, to spread the word to north Londoners who can afford Italian heels on their feet as well as their plates. To celebrate the opening owner Rob Claassen travelled to the mountainous Murgia region of Puglia to source black truffles. To celebrate the truffle season he created a ‘tartufo’ menu available from October until December at both restaurants. The good news is that I’ve been invited to review the truffle dishes (and some others) and I’m genuinely excited because I haven’t experienced cucina povera Pugliese style before.We started with a dish of Sott’olio (£5.50), a particularly Pugliese method for preserving produce. Shallots, aubergine, peppers and artichokes are laid in jars under extra virgin olive oil and vinegar giving the pickled veg a real kick.Frisella di burrata con tartufo (£4.50). Frisella is a local crunchy, dry bread with this one having been baked in a 150 year old oven before being topped with truffle infused stracciatella burrata (the loose centre of the burrata) and capocollo di Martina Franca (a pork salami) with a shaving of fresh black truffle. The dish is a delicious collision of crunch with the truffley softness of the burrata which mitigates the tanginess of the sausage. With our starters we were drinking a Locorotondo, Pastini, Valle d’Itria ’15 (£6.50/£19/£27), a dry white well-balanced mineral Puglian wine.
Orecchiette con le cime di rapa (turnip tops) is another classic Puglian dish. The orichiette pasta (meaning small ears-great for holding the sauce!) are made with durum wheat flour, water, salt but no eggs in typical Puglian fashion. The anchovy, breadcrumbs and cime di rape create a bitter, crunchy, fishy dish that I loved and which was unlike any pasta dish I had eaten before.Insalata Crudite con olio tartufo (£7.50) was a crisp, fresh feast of shaved white asparagus, celeriac, black radish and pecorino, drizzled with truffle oil. What’s not to like…Foglio d’ulivo con burrata stracciatella al tartufo (£9/£16.80) is a rough textured green olive leaf shaped pasta with the ubiquitous burrata, cardoncelli mushrooms and black truffle shavings. With ingredients like this it could only be delicious and it was.Some more Friselle arrived topped with cherry tomatoes and oregano and cream-filled Bocconcini (£4). We probably didn’t need these but being greedy food bloggers Fiona and I somehow managed to demolish them.Pernice arrosto con lardo e tartufo (£16.80) was a rather butch dish of roast partridge wrapped in truffle packed pancetta slices, with lardo pinned onto the breast and served with rustic chips. The meat was tender and richly flavoured well-matched by the full-bodied Negroamaro, Poderi Angelini, ’12, a full bodied red with dark prune, fig and spice flavours (£9/£25/£37).In comparison our dessert of Caprino mantecato (£6) was a light, frivolous, sweet confection of whipped goats curd, honey, raspberry & salted pistacchio brittle. Perfect to end the meal with.I loved the food at Ostuni. The restaurant has an integrity and authenticity that is admirable and it was wonderful to try dishes such as the orichiette which are not obvious crowd-pleasers.The staff (especially the bonkers but beautiful Milanese manageress) seem very committed to the cause making a trip there-Queen’s Park tube is only a hop and a skip away- really worth it to try something very different to the average local high-street Italian.