Enoteca is the latest small family run restaurant to hit the streets of Southampton. Setting itself in the fiercely competitive market of Italian food, Enoteca hasn’t picked the easiest of places to set its stall out. However where many Italian restaurants all have a very similar style and taste, Enoteca steps out of the rest with their own traditional approach to Italian food.
On entering the restaurant there is a friendly welcome from the young waitress who directs us to our table for the evening, from our table you can see the whole restaurant including the kitchen. This isn’t a huge establishment and is better for it not being so, it is intimate and family orientated. The décor is simple, with a few plants, wine bottle racks and the Enoteca emblem on the wall. There isn’t a sense of the place trying to be something which it isn’t, it is a family run place and knows it. Which is perfect, sometimes there is a sense that restaurants are either trying too hard, or being too cynical, often stealing away from the authenticity they may have had.
The menu sticks with the non-gimmicky approach the owners have clearly set out for the restaurant, it is simple and specialised. This doesn’t mean there isn’t enough choice, but rather that where some menus can be overwhelming with too many options, Enoteca have found a more pleasurable balance for the clientele. In the words of the owner Neil “We are an Italian restaurant with a difference – we don’t do the heaping bowls of pasta or the usual pizzas“ Instead you are offered authentic Italian food, designed for sharing and socialising with those you eat. There is a variety of offers, including all you can eat Tuesday, which for £14 per adult, £7 for under 10’s, you are offered all the great items of the menus in small portions at two at a time per person. This means you can sample all the different dishes on offer, without feeling like you are missing anything out!
I was recommended the Arancini to begin with, which was divine.There was an option of two flavours of Arancini; one was Gorgonzola, the other Nduja and Mozzarella, I have to say I could easily have gorged myself on these all night! Fortunately I managed to pull myself away from them and order everything else from the all you can eat menu, which was equally appetising. I’d personally recommend the Griddled Lamb Cutlets, which were cooked to a perfect medium rare. They had a gorgeous smoky grilled flavour from the way they were cooked, with the strong natural flavour which lamb offers. Prosciutto-wrapped prawns are another dish which I can’t speak of highly enough, so much so I had to discuss them with Neil after the meal and he said “They are the thing which turned my wife and daughter onto prawns, they always professed that they don’t like prawns, they don’t like prawns! Until they tried these then they were converted”. What makes them so delicious in my eyes is the mixture of the juiciness of the prawns they use, which are really fleshy, and the smokiness of the prosciutto. The combination of flavours isn’t one which I had sampled before and it stunned me, put quite simply prawns will never be the same again for me!
The restaurant is available for multiple functions, and are always willing to discuss any requirements you may have. This isn’t a restaurant where you feel separated from the team and owners, rather that you are seen as a vital part of what they are offering. There is a great sense of the food, the atmosphere, and the experience being the key component of all their plans. They are currently exploring the chance to raise funds with the local charity Heartbeat, which is an event you should definitely keep your eyes open for. This is where supporting local businesses is vital, they are a part of our community and offer far more to the area than the much larger franchises ever could.
Hopefully Enoteca shall be here to stay, it is a wonderful little restaurant with great ambition and one which I highly recommend.