After having our hopes dashed for a table at Mongolian Grill in Clapham (Saturday night + no booking = utter stupidity), SM and I wandered down Clapham High Street when we passed Osteria Dell'Arte. It hadn't been there the last time we passed (a little light Google-ing has informed me that it used to be San Marco) and it looked as good as any of the other overflowing restaurants. Seated initially by the entrance we were lured to the back with promises of a spacious larger table by the waitress. We passed the kitchen, we passed the loos ... before we were arrived in what I later grumbled to SM was the store room. It wasn't really but after the bustle of the front room, the back dining area felt a little too remote for my liking. In SM's own little way I was told to just chill out since it would look really stupid if we tried to get our old table back. Fine, whatever. The waiting staff were friendly and sure enough our little area soon filled up making it less store room-ish.
SM started with the deep fried sardines with shaved fennel which was fresh and light. Not only was it after every morsel was gone and the plate wiped clean did SM reveal it was too small, too clean, too light a starter. Well, bully for SM because if that revelation had come a little earlier I would have happily swapped.
As usual it was a pepperoni pizza for SM. It was a perfectly good pizza - thin crust with just the right amount of toppings but the crust was over the top salty. Definitely something that the chef should work on.
After my usual indecisiveness, I ordered the pappardalle with spicy sausage only to have an apologetic waitress come back just before the arrival of the starters that it was sold out. No matter, I pointed to my backup on the menu she was holding out. But what was set out in front of me later on didn't look anything like the seafood linguini I thought I had ordered. The mass of black pasta topped with crab and cherry tomatoes looked appetising enough ... if you liked and could eat squid ink pasta. I was horribly allergic to squid ink (random I know) as a child - swelling of the face, itching ... yup, you name it ... and have steered clear of it ever since. It's not something you come across regularly. The waitress was good natured about it - she misheard me and thought I had pointed to the dish below the linguini I was ordering. She whisked it away and replaced it with what I wanted 10 minutes later. It was absolutely delicious. Fresh seafood, punchy tomato sauce, al dante pasta ... I only wished I ordered 2 portions.
The prices were reasonable - the meal with 2 drinks came to about £35 or thereabouts for 2. The service was friendly and the food good. This all adds up to a definite return.
126 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UH London