Featured Restaurant: Maurizio's

7th December 2018

15 Church St • Rickmansworth • WB3 1BX • 01923 775701

Reviewed by Jill Glenn

Pop-up restaurants are quite the thing these days, I understand. Some open with never an intention of being around for more than a month or two, burning like a brief candle; others just never quite make the grade or win the public over, and pop off the scene before the flame ever really gets lit…

And others take a slow burn approach: forming a proper food philosophy, establishing their reputation, making friends with their customers and continuing to deliver. It’s a tough call in today’s culinary climate, and achieving it deserves credit. It’s 15 years since Maurizio’s, family-owned and family-run, opened in Rickmansworth – and their fire still blazes bright.

To begin this relaxing Sunday lunch in this ‘autentico ristorante’ , I opt for a traditional, retro-style starter: Coppa Gamberetti (prawns on a bed of fresh lettuce topped with a delicious cocktail sauce). It’s simple, but it absolutely hits the spot. The prawns – a generous amount on really crisp lettuce – taste wonderful; they’re full of flavour and the sauce is very tangy and zingy.

Opposite me on the table is one of today’s specials, in a brave and stark presentation – four sardines, grilled dark, and fanned out in the centre of a plain white plate, with nothing but a little olive oil and a juicy lemon as garnish – but with ingredients as good as this… well, why wouldn’t you let them stand up for themselves? These taste glorious: fresh, clean and tender, with just a hint of the sea about them. By the time my guest has finished, the bones have been stripped clean.

To follow, she has chosen Italian Sunday Roast Beef. What, I muse, is an Italian Roast like? The answer, at Maurizio’s at least, is: enormous. And delicious. This is a huge portion of meat, served up with roasted potatoes, cabbage, peas, carrots and a lovely light Yorkshire Pudding. The beef is very tender, and there’s ‘proper gravy’. It’s all been cooked with great care and attention to detail.

I came with pasta on my mind (and I’ve seen some mouth-watering plates of pasta going by to other tables) but I am beguiled by one of the day’s specials: Cod in Pizzaiola Sauce. It’s a good decision. The tender cod breaks apart to the fork beautifully, and would be perfect even on its own; the sauce – a mellow concoction made from tomatoes, olives and capers – is out-of-this-world: so full of flavour that I could eat it by the bucketload. The combination of the two, along with carrots and beans and little pieces of roasted potato, makes me very happy…

…as does dessert, a home-made Cassata, drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with an unnecessarily indulgent portion of cream on the side. The candied fruit yields to the tongue very gently, filling the mouth with flavours that are pleasingly dark and not too sweet. My companion orders her personal favourite, Affogato, which arrives (as it should) in two separate containers: a dish of ice cream, and a cup of espresso to pour over it. Always best done at the table; never the same if the kitchen take it upon themselves to create the mix out of sight. The bitterness of the coffee is a perfect match to the good quality Italian gelato.

It’s hard to find fault with much here. The staff are attentive and friendly; the style is simple and straightforward; the food and atmosphere are unpretentious and full of delight, and the kitchen knows what to do and does it well, with good, fresh ingredients at its disposal. But don’t eat for at least a week before you go: these are portions for hungry people.

STARTERS: £5.25-£10.95 • MAINS: £8.55-£29.95
DESSERTS: £4.95 • HOUSE WINE: £18.95

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