I don’t need much persuading to dive into a bowl of gnocchi, devour some sea bass, or demolish considerably more pizza than is really necessary, so I was all too pleased to join Jonathan on a visit to Finchley Road’s Italian relative newcomer, Fiddie’s. Having heard impressive claims from locals, we were curious to find out whether the food could reveal the same good-time vibes as the cheery, colourful furnishings, and ubiquitous film-star prints on the wall..
Starting with some decent bread, oil and vinegar already mixed, and an enjoyable overflowing bruschetta, we browsed an appealing menu full of my favourite types of things (as I write this, I’m busy scoffing spaghetti with an overdose of garlic, plus olives, tomato sauce and salted anchovies..) – and ordered a Chianti. Fiddie himself [we have no clue if that’s his name!] was charismatic, jovial and happy to chat, and with the open kitchen in view I gauged a feeling of pride and confidence in what they were doing (which was to be demonstrated rather forcefully later…!)
I certainly enjoyed my sea bream en-papillote (or whatever you call it in Italian) – the outer wrapping of foil was peeled-back at the table (as should always be the case, of course), revealing lightly cooked, fragrant fish, which was accompanied suitably by a side of vegetables that were perfect; broccoli, mange-tout and roast potatoes clearly prepared by a chef who understands the importance of such things. My side salad was fresh, though perhaps a little more variety would have been nice – I always like a little raw onion…
Jonathan, eyebrows raised in appreciation, seemed very impressed with his oxtail in a rich tomato sauce (no company should be allowed to use that term on a tin of beans), but wondered whether his rigatoni was perhaps just the wrong side of al-dente. Upon hearing of this, an amusing scene ensued (not quite Faulty Towers, but still comical) whereby Fiddie brought out a side-plate taster of pasta from chef, with the idea (presumably) being to demonstrate that it was done exactly the same every time – to perfection! Jonathan maintained that some of the pasta had indeed been slightly undercooked, but I quite liked the self-belief and conviction chef had in his cooking.
I noted several vibrant-looking plates arriving at other tables; everything appearing colourful and inviting. The menu has plenty for vegetarians, too, with a broad range of pizza and pasta dishes. The restaurant was busy, with plenty of atmosphere; it seems this little place has caught-on quickly.
One can never have too many Italian eateries in the neighbourhood, and I’m looking forward to returning to Fiddie’s soon. As the old saying goes… if a diner’s tired of Italian food… that diner’s clearly tired of life.