What’s Delicious by Franco like these days?

An underrated local Italian is holding up pretty well against NW5’s rash of new openings

Delicious by Franco: the fish stew is a winner. Photo: DBF
A casual visitor to NW5 may miss the fact that there are two longstanding Sardinian restaurants (Pane Vino and Nuraghe), a Neapolitan trattoria (Rossella), several pizza and pasta outlets including Pizza East and Stingray, and, perhaps most hidden of all, a tiny Venetian bacaro.

OK, so Delicious is not a bacaro, strictly speaking – that just means a wine bar, by the way – but it sounds more romantic, doesn’t it? And anyway it’s small and you can share the dishes.

It opened five years ago as a simple cafe; in 2011 it was revamped into Kentish Town’s most bijou dining room, and recently they’ve extended it a little further.

Cute: exterior. Photo: DBF
Cute exterior. Photo: DBF

It’s still minuscule, and really too cramped – in fact, if you’re a group of six, as on our last impromptu visit, at least two people will be trapped against a wall or window. We hadn’t booked; silly really, with us prowling the streets on a Saturday night trying to find an available table (the Grafton was chocka, with other places fully booked or closed for private parties).

And so we were pleased to nab a spot here, and also to see the room full. It’s business as usual, despite Joe’s Southern Kitchen, Bull & Gate, Kami, Patron and Somewhere Over Knowhere now crowding the stretch.

For many customers Delicious means pizza. Which is fine, as they’re expansive in flavour and delivered with pleasingly authentic Italian passion. We love the Calabrese, for example – velvety buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and basil; and the Napoletana, all salty anchovy, juicy capers and decent olives. And they’re all around a tenner.

That’s not to say that the main menu isn’t worth exploring. The six of us tackled a number of specials and regular dishes, all made with care: fish stew was packed with seafood and white fish alike, piled high with home-made thyme bread; a seafood platter for two to share (which came in at £35), boasted a pleasing chargrilled touch; delicious porcini mushroom ravioli dripped with truffle butter; and broeto de sepe was tender cuttlefish slow-braised in red wine – on a bed of (too much) light-as-air polenta.

Tasty: pizza at Delicious.
It was hard to find fault then with the flavours, although the presentation is doggedly rustic – as you imagine it must be in Caorle, a coastal town in the province of Venice, where the family is from. The dishes are, says the owner Franco, all based on a spider’s web of ancient recipes and family secrets.

Instead of dessert, we were more keen to knock back the vino on our visit, but a more sensible member of the party plumped for a few things to share. A brick-sized tiramisu – very easy to finish, with a good hit of espresso – was a bigger success than a bowl of mixed home-made ice cream. And a cheese platter’s range of soft and hard Italian cheeses included an excellent, nutty parmigiano reggiano.

Don’t forget, being a Venetian joint, they love their Aperol and Campari, so a spritz isn’t a problem; and there’s a host of Italian wines at around the £20-a-bottle mark. So, if you love all those new openings clustered nearby, next time try this golden almost-oldie.

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Mains are £14-18. Open daily, 12-230pm and 5-1030pm. Find it at 320 Kentish Town Road NW5. Phone: 020 7482 3460

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