A new Italian restaurant, bringing the best of traditional, regional Italian food into the 21st century, will be opening its doors in North London’s Belsize Park this coming Friday 20th September. Calici will offer diners a laid-back dinner location coupled with a sleek and sophisticated wine bar for those who just want to enjoy an evening ‘bicchiere di vino’ (glass of wine).
Calici, which means wine glass in Italian, will celebrate both regional Italian wine and food. Co-Founder Andrea Casasola, ex-operational manager at Individual Restaurants Company (Piccolino, Gino de Campo, restaurants Bar & Grill), has partnered with a wine importing and distribution company True Terroir Ltd to create this Venetian-style restaurant.
Calici will boast a 200-strong wine list brimming with well-known Italian tipples, established varieties and lesser known vinos, including 70 by the glass. The dishes will be inspired by recipes handed down from generation to generation, using a simple number of ingredients – including Tiramisu which will be made according the original creators recipe.
The restaurant will be split into three distinct areas; the 90-cover restaurant will be awash with a clean and neutral colour palette accentuated with high-end textiles and eye-catching features. Stone wall cladding will sit alongside a feature light wall, while plush leather seating, antique oak tabletops and aged-brass fittings will provide the restaurant with a sleek, contemporary feel.
The sophisticated separate ground floor bar area will become a destination in itself where guests can spend an evening exploring the wine list and bites to accompany it, or alternatively can enjoy a glass of wine pre or post dinner at Calici, or elsewhere. Blending raw, natural materials such as the wooden suspended ceiling with low-antique lighting, the bar will be adorned with olive trees and rustic, distressed plaster walls which will transport guests to the lively side streets of Italy. Leather-clad bar stools, and high wooden tables will provide a convivial meeting point for guests.
The basement level will operate at a different pace to the ground floor seating area. With dark tones, low lighting and antique-style chairs, it will provide an intimate enclave for larger parties.
The kitchen team, led by Head Chef Enzo Bucema, has been instrumental in putting together the authentic Italian menu, designed to be shared. Celebrating Modern traditional regional Italian food, the simple, fuss-free dishes will forgo concept in favour of using a handful of ingredients which best reflects the home-style cooking Italy is renowned for.
The seasonally changing menu will include classic regional small plates such as: Polipo alla Griglia (Mediterranean charcoal-grilled octopus served with wild rocket and Amalfi Lemon dressing); Branzino Ripieno (rolled sea bass fillet with “Taggiasche” olives, cherry tomatoes and spring onions); and Tonni ai Profumi (charcoal-grilled Tyrrhenian tuna with caramelised fruits and celery crudités).
Pasta will make up a large portion of the menu, with favourites including: Linguine al Ragu’ di Coniglio (slow cooked free range Dorset rabbit); Papardelle Salsiccia and Funghi (Tuscan fennel sausage and wild mushroom sauce) Tortelloni Burrata e Tartufo (filled pasta with truffle and burrata in a mushroom cream sauce) – all served in small or ‘main’ portions. The fresh egg pasta will be made on-site every morning by the dedicated pasta team.
Elsewhere on the menu, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes will be available, including Filetto di Maiale Bardato con Pancetta (Rare breed Yorkshire pork fillet with cured pancetta) and Gamberoni con Crema di Asparagi (Adriatic king prawns with asparagus cream), as well as summer salads, sides and homemade bread all making an appearance. The dessert menu will tap into well-loved Italian classics like homemade gelato, tiramisu, panna cotta, and orange cake made with almond flour and polenta.
Calici: The Tiramisu
The original tiramisu heralds from Carnia in the 1950s, by Norma Pielli in the hotel, bar and restaurant Albergo Roma which she managed with her husband, Beppino Del Fabbro. First put on the menu as a mascarpone slice, it got its name when a group of skiers from Monfalcone stopped to eat the mascarpone slice. At the end of the meal, they said they felt invigorated – leading to it being called Tirami Su – which literally translates to “perk-me-up”. From there, the tiramisu that is loved world-wide was born.
Andrea Casaloa was born in Carnia, and learnt the art of creating the perfect tiramisu from Norma Pielli herself, meaning that the dish served in Calici is true to the original recipe.
Calici will be home to over 200 wines predominantly sourced from Italian vineyards (70%) with the remaining 30% coming from across the globe. Available by the glass and bottle, guests can choose from a number of different grape varieties from the citrus and elegant Grillo Doc Dei Respiri from innovative winery Baglio Oro, to the naturally organic Verdejo Menade made in Rueda region in Spain. Red wines will feature over some elegant Pinot Noir from California, Biodynamic Monastrell from Bodega Los Frailes, and the intense and fruity Chianti Superiore, among others great Italian classic.
A special edition to Belsize Park’s dining scene, Calici is set to become a local staple for fresh, Italian dishes, homemade pasta and wines, without the hefty price tag.