Locale, East Dulwich review: Seasonal Italian fare in a relaxed setting
When choosing a cuisine for an evening outing, I rarely opt for Italian as I like to think I can cook pasta and pizza dishes quite well myself. However, when meeting up with a friend for a girlie catch-up, she suggested Locale in East Dulwich. The branch is one of a small chain of five (Fulham, Blackheath, County Hall and Balham) and after Googling the restaurant, found it had overwhelming positive reviews.
As we were a party of two, we took a risk and turned up on a Friday night without a reservation and were fortunately able to be accommodated. Entering the building, there is a nice, welcoming bar area to walk through before entering the restaurant at the back. The tables were accompanied by comfortable leather chairs and booths with exposed brick and antique mirrors giving a contemporary feel. There is also a terrace for alfresco dining, although maybe not at this time of year!
We started off ordering a bottle of Prosecco Villa Armellina Spumante from the extensive bar menu, which also included reasonably priced cocktails and a long wine list. The prosecco was dry and refreshing and the perfect accompaniment for a hearty carb fest.
For a starter, I opted for the Cozze Locale – sautéed mussels in garlic , chilli, white wine and Locale tomato sauce served with homemade focaccia. Unlike other restaurants I’ve been to where I find there is either too many or too little mussels for a starter, this serving included a manageable 10-12. The sauce was delicious and the focaccia came in handy for soaking it up after I had seen off the mussels.
For my main course, I decided to steer away from my usual Italian favourites like seafood spaghetti or gnocchi and chose the Pasticcio Vegetariano – a vegetarian pasticcio made with mixed grilled seasonal vegetables in layers of crepes, tomato sauce and a light béchamel sauce. Served straight out of the oven, it was piping hot so I had to wait a while for it to cool down. It was very filling, but without being too heavy and tasted delicious. My friend ordered the grated beetroot and goat’s cheese risotto with Arborio rice, parsley and parmesan cheese and really enjoyed her dish too.
Locale pride themselves on offering seasonal menus and each branch has its own specific menu, with all food being prepared on site. We found the food delicious and hearty and the service friendly and attentive. The atmosphere was relaxed and it was an easy location to wile away a few hours with a friend over good food and wine. I’m looking forward to returning and also trying some of the other branches.
- Locale, East Dulwich, 58-60 East Dulwich Road, SE22 9AX. Tel: 020 7732 7575. Open Mon-Sun. Nearest train: East Dulwich. For more information, visit the Locale website.
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