here’s not an awful lot going on around this part of town, but it’s definitely worth travelling to the busy thoroughfare by Finchley Road tube to visit this newish Italian eatery.
A casual vibe envelops diners as they enter: soothing pale pink walls and an array of foliage, with a bar and dinky open kitchen line one side. The appetising smell of pizza wafts through, leaving our mouths watering.
Recently opened, the spot is part of the Ghost Group, a hospitality collective whose portfolio boasts hotels The Mondrian and The Laslett, and steak hotspot STK. It’s an ambitious project, open from half seven in the morning most days of the week, and catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We stop by for an evening meal and start with a glass of Prosecco Quadri: extra dry and delicate, it’s one of the best we’ve sampled, in fact a steal at £6.50 a glass. Meanwhile the Negroni Bianco, with bitter-sweet herbal Luxardo replacing the blood-red Campari, is just as punchy as the original. Do not let the transparent concoction fool you.
The menu is designed to be shared, and features items inspired by the food markets of Florence and Bologna. We spy a glistening sphere of burrata surrounded by chunks of tomato being whisked over to a table. But our choices lie elsewhere, and to kick things off we order the classic vitello tonnato special.
Supremely rich and meaty veal tongue is slow-cooked until tender before being placed over open flames, the charred slices dotted with dollops of tuna mayo and a smattering of capers. The Italian take on surf ‘n’ turf?
Cacio e pepe arancini arrives next – one of their best sellers, our super attentive server informs us. With a crisp outer casing, the deep-fried rice balls reveal peppery, cheesy grains within. The accompanying porcini mushroom sauce is an unexpected additional element.
It has to be pasta for one of our mains. Al dente casarecce coated in unctuous lamb ragu is first-rate. Flecks of chilli add subtle heat, and there’s an undertone of aniseed courtesy of fennel seeds, and crunchy pangrattato (breadcrumbs) for texture.
And a pea risotto tastes intensely of itself, thoroughly appealing to the eye in all its verdant glory. Creamy and luxurious, the just-cooked mound of arborio is speckled with courgette and garnished with crispy, earthy artichoke.
With a super smooth pink grapefruit and red peach sorbet to fresh the palate at the end of the meal, this proves an enjoyable journey through Italy – albeit in the outer confines of NW3.
Main image: Terra Terra
Kentishtowner ate as guests of Terra Terra. For more on our food reviews policy see here