Food Review: Jamie’s Italian, ReadingBy Sarah Dave
February 04, 2011
Curse you Jamie Oliver. You have given me a food hangover – an overindulgence of your fine fare the night before has left me stuffed and unable to eat breakfast this morning.
Your tempting nibbles, antipasti, secondi, dolce and well-complemented wines seduced my belly and paralysed any chance of me eating again for a long time… well, at least until lunch.
With a laser-guided focus on saving for our upcoming nuptuals spending on eating out has been a necessary casualty so we jumped at the chance to try out Jamie’s Italian at The Oracle Riverside.
Jamie’s opened in March last year and offers delicious food with his trademark Italian flair but in a very social, laid back atmosphere so it’s a relaxed experience.
Unusually, I would first like to tell you about a main course the rabbit ragu pappardelle (£7.15 or £11.35 – all the pasta mains are offered in two sizes) as I can still taste it now.
It’s not a beast I’ve ever had in relation to pasta but it’s one dish I’ll be ordering again.
The gamey, meaty slow braised wild rabbit was perfectly married with mascarpone, lemon and crunchy herb breadcrumbs and the curly-wurly pappardelle suited it beautifully. Absolutely divine.
Groomy opted for feather steak (£13.35) with sage and prosciutto with spicy tomato, basil and chilli salsa.
He enjoyed it but said it was a bit too salty and would have liked the tomato chunks a little firmer.
Other mouthwatering options were: fish in a bag (£15.95) which is the fish of the day baked with mussels, clams, fennel, chilli and anchovy; pumpkin panzerotti (£6.55/£10.35) – pasta filled with pumpkin, ricotta and Parmesan served with crushed amaretti; cockles linguine (£8.20/£13.35) and burger Italiano (£11.25) with fontina cheese and crispy fried onions.
We also had a side of pumpkin and burrata (£6.25) with chilli, sage and herby shoots. Burrata’s a bit like mozzarella with a liquid, creamy inside – a perfect match with the pumpkin.
We were struggling at this point with finishing our main courses as we’d prefaced them with a meat antipasti plank (£6.85 a head) laden with Tuscan fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, San Danielle prosciutto, mozzarella and pecorino cheeses, pickles and a refreshing crunchy salad of root veg.
I would love all of this stuffed into a sandwich.
More modest palates can opt for baked chestnut mushrooms (£5.25), crispy squid (£5.75) and smoked scamorza arancini (£4.95) which are crispy rice balls stuffed with smoked mozzarella and porcini mushrooms.
Other side dishes were polenta chips, braised butterbeans and various salads including the root veg one which I highly recommend.
Taking a 10-minute breather from the great feast to talk to our server Steven it’s clear staff here are offered real buy-in to the Jamie concept. They’re encouraged and nurtured to know where Jamie is coming from, have knowledge about the food and pass that enthusiasm onto the customer.
And, when you visit, if they don’t share their enthusiasm with you, give them a boot up the botty – they should all be as customer-driven at Steve.
Time for pudding. I opted for a baked walnut tart (£4.95). This had excellent pastry but the accompanying espresso-rippled crème fraiche was unpleasant – a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream would have been better.
Groomy had the Special Tiramisu (£4.95) incorporating orange mascarpone. He said a traditional tiramisu sans the mascarpone would have been better and I agreed.
A delicious cappuccino (£2.45) made with excellent coffee capped off an indulgent and satisfying meal. Jamie’s also has an excellent selection of wine and I recommend a glass of the A Mano Rosata (£6.15) rosé from Puglia.
Bellies bursting, we returned to our life of austerity for now, safe in the knowledge we knew where to spend our pennies when we want to treat ourselves.
- Telephone: (0118) 907 0808
- Website: www.jamiesitalian.com
- Address: The Oracle Riverside, Reading