On Saturday 28th September, the newly opened kitchen space Maida Hill Place saw Donatina’s pop up restaurant be the first to try out the venue with a promise of their Neapolitan feast. Being from Italian heritage and agreeing with their London Life interview explanation that in London Italian food is ’generic’, I was really looking forward to a night of homemade southern Italian comfort food. It did not disappoint.
We arrived, were greeted by the host and made our introductions round the table over our welcome Limoncello and Prosecco cocktail: two of my favourite drinks I had never thought of combining together, so simple and delicious I was already drafting it into my next dinner party menu.
We were soon brought our antipasti of Mortadella, peppers and artichokes. Being Italian and knowing Mortadella’s origin is from the north, I accepted that although not Neapolitan, all Italians start off with some apertivi of cold meats and vegetables ‘sott’olio’. The melanzane alla parmigiana, one of my all-time favourite dishes arrived, and we were asked to help ourselves from the serving plate in the middle of the table – just as they do in Italy. It really was full of flavour, with the chewy mozzarella and warm tomato sauce over baked aubergine really is the epitome of Italian comfort food – a great change to your usual pizza and pasta. We all helped ourselves to seconds before someone commented ‘we best pace ourselves, this is the starters!’ They weren’t wrong… the generous portions we were promised really were generous but you can’t say no when all the dishes including the fish given to the one guest who didn’t eat meat was all shared out and was a winner all round.
While we had a breather before the homemade icecream, we were brought round the Neapolitan card set and explained through the rules of ‘Scopa’. A simple game that included a bit of basic maths but after a few glasses of wine, it can be surprisingly difficult…. Once we understood the rules and all had a go, we felt it was a great ice breaker and really made you feel in someone’s home. A simple and great way of getting interactive.
That was the key to the evening. Simple food, simple game, simple setting – although maybe the venue was too simple, it wasn’t very inspiring to thinking you were in Italy, but reflected the theme of the night.
We probably consumed the recommended weekly calorie allowance for a person in one sitting, but it was well worth it and the glass of Galeffi Effervescente (similar to alka-seltzer), before the strong espresso certainly helped at the end of the meal!
A great introduction to home-cooked authentic Italian food and we look forward to trying more dishes soon!
Selina & Ben