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Adrian Seal goes Italian at Locale Fulham, 222 Munster Road, SW6 6AY. Telephone 020 7381 6137 www.localerestaurants.com
TAKE a short stroll away from the hustle and bustle of Fulham Palace Road and you will soon find the more tranquil and relaxed surroundings of a popular local Italian restaurant.
Locale is situated on nearby tree lined Munster Road and delivers its claim of being a warm and welcoming neighbourhood restaurant serving freshly prepared rustic and authentic Italian dishes.
The Fulham restaurant and cocktail bar is one of five in the Locale chain, the others are at Balham, East Dulwich, Blackheath and County Hall. The dishes are devised by Executive Chef Gianpaolo Barone, from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy, and a cocktail menu is designed by mixologiest Andy Pearson, a regular of BBC's Something For The Weekend.
The surroundings are cosy and relaxed with a certain old rustic Italian charm about the decor and it is good to see that the restaurant is child friendly.
Another new addition to Locale Fulham this summer is its redesigned al fresco terrace with impressive trailing jasmine vines and seating for up to 35 diners.
However, on the night we visited the heavens opened up for the first time in weeks and any hopes of eating al fresco were soon scuppered.
From an impressive menu my partner was first tempted by the Salumi Misi (£7.95) and the charruterie board of a selection of Italian cured meats did not disappoint. The 12 month mature parma ham and mixed Italian salami with shaved fennel and wonderfully flavoured homemade Focaccia was rustic Italian food at its best.
I went for the Queen scallops (£7.95) wrapped in pancetta and pan fried with pumpkin puree, kale and a garlic and chilli dressing. I could not fault the taste and the sweetness of the puree complimented the dish. However, I could have eaten more than the three rather small scallops on the plate and was a little disappointed by the portion size.
Being a lover of both pasta and fish the Linguine ai Fruitti di Mare (£13.25) was an obvious choice next for me.
The seafood linguine with cherry tomatoes, clams, mussels, baby calamari, octopus and king prawns sauted in garlic, chilli, parsley and white wine delivered everything it promised. Well cooked pasta, generous amounts of scrumptious fish with a rich tangy sauce which left a lovely tingle on the tongue.
Keeping the traditional Italian theme going my partner had another classic, pollo e spinaci (£13.50).
The dish of corn fed chicken supreme filled with ricotta and spinach served with tagliatelle and mushroom cream was simple with a great combination of flavours, cooked just how I imagine the Italians would love it.
We enjoyed a bottle of Monepulciano d'Abruzzo 'Rimbaldi' well priced at £17.95. From the Abruzzo area in east-central Italy this red was light and medium bodied, its rustic Italian character perfectly complimenting the food.
The evening was rounded off with light deserts of Affogato - cinnamon ice cream with Frongelico, hazelnut liqueur from Northern Italy, and a shot of Expresso - and Gelati e sorbetti, a scoop of deluxe vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet.
So whatever the occasion whether it be a family gathering, romantic evening out or the desire for some well cooked traditional Italian cuisine Locale, which is open seven days a week, is worth a visit.