Food review: Unico Newmarket "A genuine taste of Italy"
- Credit: Archant/Simon Weir
We like to keep you up-to-date with all the latest restaurants and though I missed the grand opening of Unico, Newmarket's new family-run Italian eatery, I did manage to book a table within a week of the doors opening. I'm glad I did - because I have a feeling that tables are going to be in serious demand as word gets out.
I admit, I wasn't sure quite what to expect of a restaurant created in what used to be an electrical shop. It's clearly been extensively - and lavishly - made over, though my partner didn't like the logo. "It looks more like an Italian petrol station logo," she said before we walked in. I mention this as it's the closest you're going to get by way of criticism, as once we were through the doors we had an excellent evening.
Inside, you'd be hard put to guess this was ever a retail space. It's been divided up, there's a bar, there are booths, there's a mirror-tiled pizza oven lurking down by the kitchen. There's lots of marble and fancy light fittings, with plants and multi-level ceilings. There's a hubbub of people as it's already busy. There's an instant atmosphere created by the decor, the noise, the warm welcome from the owner - it's like walking not into an Italian restaurant but into a popular restaurant in Italy.
That powerful sense of place is only reinforced by the food. I'm starting with the burrata (£9.95). This is a snow-white ball of mozarella and cream, served with caramelized figs and Parma ham. I add a crack of black pepper and it's frankly superb: simple, tasty and authentic.
As a veggie/pescatarian, Ali liked the thought of the burrata but not with the ham. There are good seafood and veggie options and even a vegan section (something I've never seen on a menu in Italy!). She's opted for the roast pumpkin soup (£6.50) which comes with a frankly huge serving of focaccia and a 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 extensive, but it covers everything you could want - to me it suggests the focus here is on doing the essential dishes and doing them well, rather than trying to offer a version of every Italian dish you've ever heard of. I like the look of the Sorrentine gnocchi, the tagliatelli Sophia Loren, the penne all'Amatriciana... but in the interests of covering all bases like a good reviewer, naturally I go for a pizza. It's not a hardship.
As with the rest of the menu, the pizza offerings are focused and authentic (not a hit of pineapple...) Seven pizzas and a calzone - but I opt for the Calabrian (£14.50) topped with spicy salamy, nduja (an even spicier sausage, that spreads like a paste once the skin's removed), peppers and mozzarella. It's not a flat and homogeneous disc, like something you'd get from a chain of delivery pizza places. This is like something you'd find in a village pizzeria in Emilia-Romano or Apulia and it's delicious - so much cheese and such a generous amount of toppings, especially the nduja. Easily the best pizza I've had outside Italy.
- 1 Tankers on their way to Suffolk as the government unveils action plan
- 2 Lorry overturns after crashing into office building - warning over delays
- 3 Seven spots to visit on the Suffolk Coast this autumn
- 4 Aldi to open 100 new supermarkets with eyes on four towns in Suffolk
- 5 'Outstanding' former Ipswich teachers leave £2million to charities in will
- 6 The 72 postcode areas where Covid infection rates are rising
- 7 Town sign 6ft 5ins striker as Nsiala, Jackson and Barry all start for U23s
- 8 Louis Theroux documentary on White House Farm murder premieres tonight
- 9 Church brings a new Hope to former Ipswich Odeon cinema
- 10 North Stander: Bonne's becoming a Blues icon - now we have to start winning
As I didn't think the figs with the starter would quite make up one of my five a day, I've also ordered a side salad of rocket and parmesan (£5.95). It's simple, but fresh, topped with in indulgent drizzle of balsamic.
I had expected to share the salad with Ali, but she has her hands full with the seafood with linguine - which is one of the largest servings I think I've ever seen. It's absolutely stuffed with seafood and tastes delicious. The shellfish are cooked to perfection, though the prawns had carried on cooking in their shells and were turning a little cotton-woolish in texture. The pasta was sublime... but even with my eager assistance, there was no way we could do justice to the dish. Frankly, it could have fed the pair of us quite happily.
Pudding, then. I had to take a deep breath before even agreeing to look at the desert menu. But, again, there were too many great sounding options - plus I was conscious 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 pears: a compact chocolate shell stuffed with mousse and ricotta and pears like heaven on a spoon. It managed to be rich without being sickly and so light that, I barely noticed I was eating it.
Ali had opted for the Delizia al Limone (£6.75) which delivered a suitably refreshing, sweet zing. The sponge at the heart of it was also feather-light. A fabulous way to finish a meal.
Overall, it is a superb meal. Service is attentive without being intrusive, the food is simple, well-cooked and full of flavour - a genuine taste of Italy as well as being epically generous in its portions. There's a lovely sense of place in Unico, but it's of Naples rather than Newmarket. With two glasses of wine and some water, our bill is £86.55 - which is definitely at the top end of what I'd expect to pay for three courses in an Italian restaurant. But I think it's worth it: as well as full stomachs, we left with big smiles, already trying to work out when we could come back again.
Unico, HIgh Street, Newmarket. Tel: 01638 427900
We pay for all our meals and restaurants do not know they are being reviewed.