It sounds like the Latin name for an obscure herb, but Manitoba Tigella is actually an authentic Italian restaurant freshly arrived in London’s New Oxford Street, the southern boundary of foodie Fitzrovia which has hitherto been a bit of a gastronomic desert.
Early adopters are already packing in to a bright, airy room decorated with homey Italian-style touches for not only properly-prepared pasta and wonderful composed dishes featuring the best PDO Italian cheeses but that slightly strange item for which the restaurant is named, the tigella. Is it a flat roll? Is it a squashed scone? A bit of both, peculiar to the Emilia Romagna region and named for the terracotta tin which gives the bread its distinctive pattern, it’s designed to be stuffed with cheese, salami or, in the case of Manitoba, a whole range of inventive fillings including aubergine parmigiana.
It’s a novelty, to be sure, but I was introduced to Manitoba at a showcase dinner for fine Italian cheeses and the restaurant demonstrates more inventive ways to use them than in its many cheese sandwiches – you can get tigelle here stuffed with pecorino, aged parmesan and ricotta, taleggio, gorgonzola, scamorza and stracchino. Preferring to eschew the carbs, I revelled in some delicious burrata from Puglia served with a rainbow tomato salad and basil oil, followed by an excellent yellowfin tuna tartare.
Good Italian restaurants are, of course, heaven for carb lovers, and my dining companion could not resist the tortellini, served both in brodo – rich chicken soup – and stuffed with cream and ham slivers. There is spaghetti carbonara, naturally, Bolognese pleasingly served over the wider noodles known as pappardelle and risottos of both mushrooms and seafood(mixed seafood is also available as a spaghetti sauce). Rather strangely, given all these fine Italian offerings, Manitoba is also using its proximity to The British Museum to draw tourists in pursuit of fish and chips – here a mix of crisp calamari and prawns rather than cod charmingly listed as Sea & Fries.
While those with room for dessert will feel drawn to Britain’s favourite Italian dessert, tiramisu, it would be a shame to miss out on the best panna cotta tasted in London this year, properly wobbly and perfectly complemented by a strawberry coulis and sprinkling of lemon zest99 streusel. Decent Italian wines, Proseccos and good coffee complete the offering, and there is a super-long Happy Hour, 4 to 8pm, to tempt the office crowd to chill out after work and stay for supper.
Special word for the plates – quite beautiful, one-off pieces apparently designed in Devon – and the room, bright and quirky by day(the culinary-themed animation Ratatouille was playing on a giant screen throughout our lunch) but more intimate by night, when an upstairs mezzanine is open to create an extra galleried dining space. And super-attentive service from a small team bent on bringing the best of Italy to a London audience which has had enough mediocre Italian food to appreciate the real thing at a fair price when they taste it.
Tell me more about Manitoba Tigella London
Manitoba Tigella London
82 New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1HB
Tel: 020 7436 8231
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