Food Journal: Unico Newmarket | East Anglian Daily Times
We love keeping you up to date with all the latest restaurants and although I missed the grand opening of Unico, Newmarket’s new family-owned Italian restaurant, I was able to reserve a table within a week of opening the doors. . Glad I did – because I have a feeling the tables are going to be in high demand as the news spreads.
I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from a restaurant set up in what was once an electrical store. It has clearly been extensively – and lavishly – redone, although my partner didn’t like the logo. “It looks more like the logo of an Italian gas station,” she said before entering. I mention this because it is the closest you will get as a review because once we got through the gates we had a great evening.
Inside, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that this was a retail space. It has been divided, there is a bar, there are cabins, there is a mirrored pizza oven lurking near the kitchen. There’s lots of marble and fancy light fixtures, with plants and tiered ceilings. There is a hubbub of people because there are already a lot of people. There is an instant atmosphere created by the decor, the noise, the warm welcome from the owner – it’s like stepping into not an Italian restaurant but a popular restaurant in Italy.
This powerful sense of belonging is only reinforced by food. I start with the burrata (£ 9.95). It’s a snow-white scoop of mozarella and cream, served with caramelized figs and Parma ham. I add a pinch of black pepper and it’s frankly superb: simple, tasty and authentic.
As a vegetarian / pescatarian, Ali liked the idea of the burrata but not the ham. There are good seafood and veg options and even a vegan section (something I’ve never seen on a menu in Italy!). She opted for the roasted pumpkin soup (£ 6.50) which comes with a frankly huge serving of focaccia and delicious tomato paste. The soup itself is delicious – rich and subtle. It’s a huge portion, so I gallantly offer to help with the bread.
I really like the look of the menu. It’s not exhaustive, but it covers everything you could possibly want – to me, it suggests that the focus here is on preparing the essential dishes and preparing them properly, rather than trying to offer a version. of every Italian dish you’ve ever heard of. I love the look of the Sorrento gnocchi, Sophia Loren tagliatelli, penne all’Amatriciana … but in the interest of covering all the bases like a good review, I naturally go for a pizza. It is not an ordeal.
As with the rest of the menu, the pizza offerings are focused and authentic (not a pineapple hit …) Seven pizzas and a calzone – but I go for the Calabrian (£ 14.50) topped with spicy salamy, nduja (the same sausage spicier, which spreads like a paste once the skin is removed), peppers and mozzarella. It’s not a flat, seamless disc, like something you’d get from a chain of delivery pizzerias. It’s like something you’ll find in a village pizzeria in Emilia-Roman or Puglia and it’s delicious – so much cheese and such a generous amount of toppings, especially the nduja. Easily the best pizza I have had outside of Italy.
Since I didn’t think figs with the starter would be one of my five a day, I also ordered an arugula and parmesan side salad (£ 5.95). It’s simple, but fresh, topped with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
I expected to share the salad with Ali, but she has her hands full with the seafood with linguine – which is one of the largest portions I think I have ever seen. It is absolutely stuffed with seafood and tastes delicious. The seashells are cooked to perfection, although the shrimp continued to cook in their shells and became a little cottony. The pasta was sublime. . . but even with my enthusiastic help, there was no way to do the dish justice. Frankly, it could have fed us both happily.
Pudding, then. I must have taken a deep breath before I even agreed to look at the desert menu. But, again, there were too many options that sounded good – plus I was aware that a review should include the desserts.
It was a good decision. I opted for the “Cioccolata, Ricotta e Pera” (£ 6.50) which is chocolate, ricotta and pear: a compact chocolate shell filled with mousse and ricotta and pears like paradise a la spoon. He managed to be rich without being sickly and so light that I barely noticed I was eating him.
Ali had opted for the Delizia al Limone (£ 6.75) which offered a soft and refreshing zing. The core sponge was also ultra-light. A fabulous way to end a meal.
Overall a great meal. The service is attentive without being intrusive, the food is simple, well cooked and full of flavor – a real taste of Italy while being incredibly generous in its portions. There is a nice sense of belonging to Unico, but it’s more Naples than Newmarket. With two glasses of wine and some water, our bill is £ 86.55 – which is definitely on top of what I would expect to pay for three courses at an Italian restaurant. But I think it’s worth it: in addition to a full stomach, we left with big smiles, already trying to work out when we could come back.
Unico, High Street, Newmarket. Phone. : 01638 427900
We pay for all of our meals, and restaurants don’t know they’re undergoing overhaul.