Steve and I braved the cold on Thursday evening and took the short walk up to the High Street to Artigiano. A cafe by day and bar/ music venue by night. When we arrived at about 7.45pm the atmosphere was already buzzing. Lots of people enjoying each other’s company in a cool setting. I commented that I felt like I was in a swanky wine bar in London. We found a table by the door with a prime view of the make shift stage area where the Mafia Babies were due to play a double set later on in the evening. We made our way up to the bar area where we were greeted by a friendly and smiley lady called Hannah. She helped us with our drinks choices.. I was wanting wine as i knew that we would be ordering food at some point throughout the evening. I finally decided on the white Rioja. A beautiful flavour that was perfect for the kind of food found on the menu. Steve plumped for a DNA pale ale by Charles Wells/Dogfish Head which he said was “absolutely delicious”. Hannah gave us a menu and allowed us to take a seat so we could choose what we wanted to eat.
The menu is pretty simple.. A selection of olives, nuts and breadsticks are on offer to whet your appetite whilst perusing the menu. Artigiano is not a restaurant per say. They offer simple sharing platters and pizzas thats the perfect fodder for a night out with friends or your better half whilst soaking up the ambiance of the place.
When Hannah returned to take our order we had decided on a bowl of olives and some chili nuts to nibble on whilst we waited for our main choices. We plumped for the baked Camembert served with crusty bread and a smokey onion chutney alongside the roasted vegetable pizza (roasted red peppers, aubergine, courgette, red onion and spinach). Perfect sharing food for when the Mafia Babies had started.
The nuts and olives came out first. Juicy plump green and black olives interspersed with giant salty capers. Absolutely divine and sat beautifully alongside our chili nuts. A selection of nuts coated in a crispy chilli shell. So moorish.. I couldn’t stop nibbling! Prices for the nibbles come in at around £2.95 – £4.95.
Not long after our nibbles our baked Camembert arrived with a good selection of bread, butter and grapes for dipping. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the size of the portion considering our pizza was following behind. The pizza arrived in all it cheesey glory, again a decent sized portion and I couldn’t wait to tuck in..It smelt so good. Prices for the platters and pizzas come in at no more than £10.95.
The baked Camembert was absolutely delicious. To be honest, what’s not to like? Gooey melted cheese and warm crusty bread. I was in heaven. The pizza was tasty too. Big pieces of roasted veggies scattered generously over a thin pizza base smothered in a rich tomato sauce. All of this topped with mozzarella cheese that was melted and golden. I have to confess I dipped my pizza in the melted Camembert at one point! Is that wrong? I would like to say a big “NO”.. I would highly recommend it!
Like I said earlier, the portion sizes were generous so a few slices of pizza were left alongside some of our Camembert and dippage. I felt terrible leaving it as it really was wonderfully tasty but my jeans were beginning to feel like they might pop at any moment.
Whilst enjoying our supper the Mafia Babies began their first set. To my surprise they were really very good and played a great mix of songs from Michael Jackson to Seal to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. All in their slightly rocky way. I started singing away to the songs whilst nibbling on my pizza. They really added to the ambiance of the place.. I could sense that everyone around us was feeling the same and enjoying the buzz that they created. They mentioned they would be playing again in March so I will definately look out for their next gig. I would happily recreate my Artigiano experience.
Steve and I had a a fabulous evening and would highly recommend a visit. I can’t fault the service, food or ambience. Good job Artigiano. We will be back sooner rather than later.
Photography by Steve Kitch