Ask people where their favourite restaurant in Bexley is and you will quite often get the standard “Oh we love Ferraris” and I should confess that a decade ago I would have been one of those people (you know, style over substance yada yada). Whilst there is nothing wrong with Ferraris, I just don’t know why you would choose to eat Italian food from here when you have close to perfection in the form of Meluccis just down the road.
No it doesn’t have the trendy facade and posh table settings, in fact you sit in amongst the products that it sells throughout the day when it is a thriving deli. It doesn’t have an extensive wine and cocktail list, it doesn’t even have a bar! Yes, Meluccis is a BYOB establishment and I just love them for it! If you do forget there are a number of stores selling wine across the road and soft drinks need to be purchased in-house.
I feel like now is probably the time that I should admit that Meluccis is a firm favourite of mine and that I really debated on whether or not to post about this gem of a place in the heart of Bexley Village – it’s already getting hard enough to get a table there when I call! But I want this website to showcase the best of places to eat in Kent and I take my responsibilities seriously so let me tell you about one of the best Italian restaurant in the county…
From the tiniest of kitchens (and it really is everso tiny) owner Maria creates and serves the most splendid and authentic Italian dishes outside of Italia itself. Her husband is front of house and is fantastic at entertaining his customers. The staff are always friendly and helpful and will look after you well throughout your meal. On this occasion I was eating with my in-laws, Mr A and my step-daughters which means we had a vegan at the table. This is no problem for Maria but I always drop her an email beforehand just to give her some warning and then she gives a selection of dishes on the day to choose from. They always sound really tasty and I know that my step-daughter is grateful for something other than a boring vegetable pasta.
The menu is quite simple and it changes every few months with some staples like the Seafood Trilogy Pasta and Wild Boar Pappardelle staying put. I always struggle when ordering at Meluccis because everything tempts me and it may explain why I felt the overwhelming urge to be really rather greedy this occasion (fuelled by the bottles of Aldi champagne we were drinking) and thus ordered two starters. Scallops and stuffed courgette flowers for me.
The scallops were melted in the mouth and had that beautiful slight sweetness they retain when expertly cooked. I am always appreciative that Maria cooks the coral as well, as it is by far the tastiest part of them in my opinion. Served with the juices of the pan, braised courgette flowers and a simple salad of rocket it is just a delight of a dish and I order it every time without fail.
Second starter was stuffed courgette flowers – a dish that I have had in Italy and loved but had not seen in the UK anywhere before. The flowers are stuffed with a mixture of mozzarella, ricotta cheese and anchovies, dipped in batter and then deep fried. How could that not taste good?! These were lovely and crisp on the outside and oozed cheesy loveliness on the inside. I am firmly in the camp that anchovies make everything in life better so if I had any criticism of the dish it would be that I wanted more of a “punch” from the filling (but I do realise I am in the minority of my love of the little fishes!)
Main is where I take full responsibility for making the wrong choice, I wanted to try a dish I hadn’t before for this review and so I went for the vegetarian gnocchi. And whilst there was nothing wrong with it – a bubbling gratin of homemade gnocchi, mascarpone, tomato sauce, Buffalo mozzarella & parmesan – it just missed the depth of flavour that some of the other dishes on the menu have.
Mr A ordered the Seafood Trilogy pasta and I had food envy straight away. I really should have gone with it. Deliciously soft, stuffed pasta with the lightest, creamiest sauce makes it an absolute delight and a taste sensation that I cannot recommend enough. Next time I will take my own advice and order it for sure. Other highlights around the table were the sea bass and risotto dish, which was beautifully presented and the fish cooked to perfection.
If you have room, and I always have room, there is an ever-changing dessert menu which your waitress will go through with you. And do make sure you have one because I have tried many of Maria’s deserts and struggle to pick a favourite as they are all so good. I will say though that if her Tiramisu is on the menu just do it because it is incredible! Alas, it wasn’t this time so I went for the cherry crumble tart which was as every bit as divine as it sounds. I am however a terrible blogger as my picture of it is just a blurry mess. Next time, next time! A lovely touch is at the end of your meal Maria comes to see how you enjoyed it and to make sure everyone is happy – I’m yet to find someone who isn’t!
The bill for six of us all with starters and mains and a couple of puddings came to less than £180.00, which although doesn’t include alcohol, is still very reasonable for the quality of food and ingredients you get.
Meluccis will never be fancy, the basic chairs and tables and paper napkins see to that, but the excited chatter, great atmosphere and incredible food means you simply don’t care. I love it here, it should never change. Go try it and you can thank me later! Bellissima!
8.5 / 10
Meluccis, 55 Bexley High Street, DA5 1AB