PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Experience has taught me that if a restaurant bears the title "authentic" in its name or menu, it'll be anything but. At Popolo, there's no mention of it anywhere but the evidence is where it counts – on the plate. The menu is influenced by seasonality, with a pesce dish that changes daily or weekly, depending on what's been caught that morning from the fish markets. The menu delivers regional classics without scaring off your conservative Italian dining companions (you know, those friends who won't order anything but margherita pizza). Inspired by the heritage of co-owners Flavio Carnevale and Fabio Dore, both ex Fratelli Paradiso, there's hints of Sardinia and Basilicata dotted throughout the menu.
To start, the swordfish carpaccio, a fleshier and more textural fish, marries well with a dehydrated mandarin peel crumb and toasted almond flakes. If I had to find a fault, the dish could have used a squeeze of lemon that would have taken it to the next level. The squid ink tagliatelle, cooked al dente, involves just a few ingredients, as the best Italian dishes do, with hunks of spanner, king and blue swimmer crab, a handful of sun ripened cherry tomatoes and torn shreds of basil. The fish of the day is a piece of crisp-skinned snapper, served with roasted baby zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes. Classic flavour combinations, executed perfectly – this dish was a reminder that simple is often the best.
Co-owners Flavio and Fabio explain the motivation behind Popolo: "We want our guests to be able to close their eyes and be transported to Positano, Puglia, Basilicata and Sardegna with every mouthful." I've got to say, dinner at Popolo was undoubtedly an inexpensive Italian holiday, albeit a little short.