What's the draw
Given London's ever-increasing love of authentic regional Italian cooking, we've only got one question about the opening of a restaurant dedicated to the food of the Tuscan region of Maremma: why did it take so long? No matter the answer, we're glad we waited, because this small-yet-perfect space on Brixton's Watergate Lane is rightly one of the most talked-about openings of the year. The Maremma is a coastal area on Italy's west coast; a glorious land of sandy beaches, rustling pine groves and balmy, rosemary-scented nights that'll have you booking your next holiday, pronto. And when you bring together such landscapes with the Italian love of eating, only very good things can happen. Yes, founders (and partners) Alice Staple and Dickie Bielenberg aren't native Tuscans, but don't let that fool you: cooking here is a joyous, exacting celebration of the food the region has to offer.
What to drink
Like elsewhere on the menu, the focus here is on small Tuscan producers, with bottles hailing from Bolgheri, Val di Cornia and the island of Elba in the Tuscan archipelago. As such, you should probably slowly sip your way around the whole wine list, but we settled in with a carafe of the superbly juicy 2015 La Fralluca cabernet franc, which was the perfect pairing with the cured meat (more on that later). If you really want to go wild, there's a menu of Super Tuscans, and – even better – rumour has it Maremma is looking to have a bottle shop on site...
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What to eat
At the time of writing, Dickie brought meat back to London by driving it in the back of his car – true dedication to proper sourcing if we ever saw one. With this in mind, it would practically be rude to not eat the house charcuterie, an homage to the Tuscan tradition of curing meat. Aquacotta soup – veg broth with a delicately poached egg – is a Maremmani classic, but our hearts (and stomachs) were won by the battuta, or boar steak haché, and some plates of truly divine pasta: pappardelle with wild boar and unmissable tagliatelle with bottarga. As for dessert, pear and parmesan gelato was creamy, tangy and laden with umami, while the custard-y torta di nonna felt like a giant pastei de nata. Do not leave without eating it.
Antipasti from £8, wine by the glass from £6. 36 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE; maremmarestaurant.com