Restaurant Review: Bagatti’s

By - Tuesday 17th March, 2015

Joy Akwue-Butler enjoys a night out in Italy, courtesy of south Croydon

Time from East Croydon: 15 minutes / 5 minutes 119, 466 or 312

56-58 South End, Croydon CR0 1DP

Bruschetta Bagatti.
Photo author’s own.

On Friday 27th February I’d arranged to meet up with my sister Doreen and my friend Kei. It had been more than ten years since I last went to Bagatti’s and although I wasn’t impressed back then, more recently I have heard quite positive reviews, so I thought I should give it another visit. The restaurant has a large box-shaped interior, with a bar area to the left as you enter and a mirrored wall on the right-hand side. When we arrived for our 6:30 pm booking, there was just a handful of other tables occupied.

Our waiter Antonio showed us to our seats. After we’d perused the menu for a little while, he came back to take our orders. For her starter, Kei ordered mozzarella fritta – deep-fried mozzarella wrapped with Parma ham and breadcrumbs with tomato concasse and rocket (£6.30). Doreen ordered carpaccio di branzino – thinly-sliced raw sea bass dressed with lime, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and spring onions (£7.80). I ordered bruschetta Bagatti – ciabatta bread topped with melted mozzarella cheese, Parma ham and diced tomato salsa (£6.30). Kei ordered a glass of coke (£2.40), Doreen an apple juice (£2.40) and I had a glass of pinot grigio (£7.90). We also asked for a glass of tap water.

There was plenty of chatter and laughter to be heard

All of our starters arrived well presented. Doreen’s carpaccio was served with two pieces of bread. The fish had been mixed with the spring onion and balsamic vinaigrette, which she felt went really well together. Kei initially found her mozzarella fritta a little salty, but after a couple of mouthfuls the taste became more enjoyable! I was served three slices of bruschetta, which I would have enjoyed a little more if the mozzarella had been fully melted. The salad of tomato, rocket and vinaigrette helped to balance the taste, but I found it quite filling.

Kei had recently returned from a ramblers trip to Cuba so, whilst we digested our starters, we listened to her adventures and caught up with each others’ news. During this time we noticed how the restaurant had become busier and louder! It was about three-quarters full, with a mix of family and large friendship groups, plus quite a few couples. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, as there was plenty of chatter and laughter to be heard.

Risotto faesano.
Photo author’s own.

Our main courses arrived; Kei had ordered the fegato alla griglia – grilled calves liver with pancetta served with mashed potato, spinach and a red wine reduction (£15.80). Kei had chosen the liver because she thought it would be good for her – but she didn’t expect something that is good for you to taste so amazing! The liver was tender and worked well with the pancetta, which she felt enhanced the flavours. This came with a lovely rich sauce, spinach and creamy mashed potato. Doreen ordered the pesce spada – swordfish cooked with white wine, lemon and garlic. This was served with tagliolini pasta in a lobster sauce of courgettes, crab and tomato (£16.80). Doreen was impressed that she had been served two pieces of swordfish steak, which went very well with the pasta – all of it was perfectly cooked and tasted delicious. I had the risotto paesano – arborio rice cooked with leeks, asparagus, diced chicken, mushrooms, white wine, cream and parmesan (£12.50). I’m quite fussy when it comes to risotto; I like it to be creamy, the rice firm and not mushy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all I wanted and more! There was a good mix of rice, chicken and vegetables, with a strong hint of garlic – I have to admit the whole thing tasted delicious. But I’d been given such a generous portion that I was unable to finish it.

We all agreed that the food was impressive

Antonio checked to see if we would be interested in seeing the dessert menu. Initially we said no, but then decided there’d be no harm in looking! Although we were all quite full by this point, Doreen and I decided to order the semi freddo torroncino – a tower of nutty nougat ice-cream topped with crushed nuts (£5.60). Kei ordered a cup of camomile tea (£2.30). The ice-cream came well-presented and it was creamy but not too sweet; the nuts broke up the smooth texture and the berries added another dimension to the overall taste – suffice it to say we both really enjoyed it!

Semi freddo torroncino.
Photo author’s own.

I visited the ladies, which was located past the kitchen at the back of the restaurant; I found it to be clean but cold. By nine o’clock the restaurant was completely full and the noise levels were so loud that we could barely hear ourselves speak. This is a shame, as this slightly affected our overall enjoyment. Having said that, we all agreed that the food was impressive, the staff attentive and we would definitely consider going back there again.

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler works as the Operations Manager for IKM TeckChek Europe whose UK office is based in Croydon. She has lived and worked in the area for over 20 years. She currently lives in Caterham with her partner and has one daughter – Jasmine. Joy loves eating good food and enjoys socialising!

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