REVIEW: Mediterraneo, Brighton

by - April 06, 2016

I can't say I ever take much notice of the listings on TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations, but sometimes you spot a quirk that gets you wondering. For a long time a tiny, itty bitty, side street Italian restaurant with barely a handful of covers, took the top Brighton restaurant spot, despite the likes of 64 Degrees, Silo and the Ginger Group. Running the show are just Georgio on front of house and his wife Sonia in the kitchen. 

Now I think the main USP of Mediterraneano is the intimate atmosphere. The impossibly romantic candelabras, low lighting, rich, deep hues of the furnishings and the, er, unique, artwork on the walls (previous diners know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, new diners, I'll leave it to you to discover).

Service is as charming as it gets. You are treated like royalty, your water glass filled with a silver and crystal jug and the tables are laid out impeccably. It's probably the last place in Brighton to roll your menu and secure it with a silver napkin ring. They seem to have created a quirky luxury that would be impossible to recreate which I absolutely adore and is totally unique in Brighton. Want to impress someone special? Here's the place to do it.

I have eaten here before, maybe even as long as a year ago and whilst the above still rings true, I wasn't too overwhelmed by the food. Sonia isn't professionally trained (I don't think) so the food is home style yet nicely presented. However on this recent visit, even though the menu was very similar, the cooking had vastly improved.

Still on the plate was a quaint salad filled
 bread "basket" with a trio of mini arancini filled with either meat ragu, spinach and salmon. There was an over-sweet balsamic glaze, possibly rose infused, which aged the presentation and didn't suit my savoury palate.

The filled aubergine starter really worked as a dish though and even I appreciated the sweeter tones of the carrots and pomegranate seeds this time which contrasted nicely with the parmesan crisp and fillings. Textually it was spot on and showed just how far the cooking had come along.

For main my Involtini di Pollo was skewered with pieces if toast which I find strange (it could be an Italian regional food thing I'm not familiar with) but the chicken was succulent stuffed with mozzarella and ham. The accompanying potatoes with rosemary is what I expect to see served with an Italian meat secondo. Mr. GF's veal version was much the same so he was happy. 

The Merluzzo in Umido dish on the table, which I snuck a taste of, was excellent. Plenty of flavours pepped up the soft, steamed cod; white wine, fresh herbs, capers... just a gorgeous, enjoyable plate of food. On the menu there are also other classic like lasagne, Parmigiana di Melanzane and pasta.

I will say that the forte here is the desserts. No one really does Italian desserts too well (not even most Italians half the time) but Sonia makes exquisite cakes. My Limoncello torte was feather light, plenty of cream and sponge layers and a good kick of booze. The amaretto cake was similar and classic flavour combination. The dessert course rightfully silenced the table.

These is a well selected wine list and an exceptional liqueur list. Italians commonly finish a meal with with a spirit or fortified wine so the Vecchia Romana and Terre Arse (yes, I know) were in full flow. 

As you would expect for a restaurant that only opens Friday and Saturday evening and has just a few tables you need to book well ahead. It may not be the most refined meal of your life but it's cooked with love and you'll remember your visit for a very long time.

A Brighton gem. 

2a Clyde Road, Brighton BN1 4NP

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