Italian street food comes to Brighton but a) what is it and b) is it any good?
EataliO, Brighton Review
Street food is a big deal in the UK now and regular markets like Street Feast in London and Brighton’s very own Street Diner celebrate some of the best traders around.
I’ve never seen an Italian street food stall at any of these markets so when EataliO opened on Queens Road claiming to be authentic, my first thought was “what the hell is Italian street food”.
The answer, according to EataliO is a range of meat and veg toppings served in a Piada (flat bread) or in a pasta or salad bowl but after a bit of research and according to The Graphic Foodie (and she should know), it looks like pasta and salads have nothing to do with it.
My knowledge of Italian street food stretches as far as Lampredotto, Florence’s famous sandwich filled with cow’s stomach, stewed for hours, seasoned with hot red chilli sauce or green parsley sauce and dipped in the broth, which I never managed to find despite spending a couple of hours searching!
Anyway, EatlaliO’s owner Amin invited me down to check out their offering so I popped down for lunch with local rock legend and friend, Tom from The Xcerts.
The decor is pretty nice and much as you’d expect from anyone trying to be on trend with an industrial feel making use of subway tiling and exposed steel and brickwork but it hardly screams Italy and the bar stools we sat on were far from comfy.
We made our way to the back to the big ‘Start here’ sign and had a quick chat to Amin about how the ordering process works (because frankly, it’s pretty hard work).
Start by choosing your base;
- Piada – hand rolled Italian flat bread
- Pasta Bowl – choice of spaghetti, whole wheat fusilli or penne
- Salad Bowl – fresh mixed salad leaves
Then choose your main topping – grilled seasonal vegetables, free-range lemon chicken, spicy Italian sausage, British rump steak or crispy chicken fillet ranging from £5.95 to £6.95.
Then choose a hot or cold sauce (or salad dressing) and three of the myriad of deli items on show, which includes things like courgette and mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, olives and so on.
Tom and I had a Piada with Rump Steak (£6.95) and a Pasta Bowl with Italian Sausage (£6.70) to share. I would tell you what veg and sauces we chose to put in them but I can’t remember… There are too many choices on offer here that it makes the ordering process slow and probably quite stressful at busy times.
We had some angel hair paste in our Piada on Amin’s recommendation but this didn’t work at all for me as the double carbs aspect made the whole thing a bit stodgy and starchy for me. Each to their own I guess.
The hotter of the two tomato sauces, which we had with our pasta had no heat to it at all but the Italian sausage was fantastic and easily the star of the show for me, with plenty of flavour and a nice coarse texture. Ironically, they’re not made here – they’re from Brighton Sausage Co.
The main problem with EataliO for me is that nothing’s really fresh – the pasta is pre-cooked so is inevitably floppy and lacking any bite and the steak is all done to at least medium-well. With so many options available it’s really hard not to end up with a confusing meal that is lightyears away from the simplicity that Italian cuisine is built on.
Lastly, the pricing feels too high to me as you’d only come here for lunch and I don’t think £6-7 is good value for money, especially when the pasta bowls are mainly pasta.
On the plus side, they do source locally and have managed to get hold of some genuine Italian iced tea and pressed juices but while EatliaO claims to be authentic street food they’re far too eager to cater for the masses by offering distinctly inauthentic things like feta cheese and soy and ginger salad dressing, which confuses the concept and their message.
I dined as a guest of EataliO but as always, the words and thoughts are my own.
|Piada with Rump Steak||£6.95|
|Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage||£6.70|