The man for whom superlatives are mere punctuation has opened up another of his very successful Italian eateries in Shepherds Bush, bringing a mockney slice of the Med to the Westfield.
This is passing-custom heaven, attractively positioned between one of the Westfield’s main entrances and an escalator that handily pops people up right outside, like Jamie’s personal conveyor belt. They’re met with an attractive enough venue; a small alfresco area is brightened up by an authentic Italian ice cream van and a little bit of foliage, leading into an interior dressed in what can probably be described as modern-rustic chic. The predominance of wood, the wicker baskets and the tea-towel napkins make it feel traditionally trattoria, but it’s given a contemporary injection from brushed chrome, slate flooring, trendy chandelier lighting and of course, Jamie’s grin smiling out from all the cookbooks on sale.
Jamie’s Italian is vibrant, loud and with a questionable taste in music, much like the cheeky chappie himself. It works though – the music is all guilty pleasures and the buzz of chattering diners makes everything feel nicely relaxed and informal. Staff know the menu inside out and are perfectly friendly, even if some could do with speaking up a little to counter the din. There’s a real mix of clientele in there too, with plenty of families, ladies lunching, couples, workers and even lone diners, all with one thing in common; they all seem to be enjoying themselves, which is nice.
Using the template that has made the many other incarnations so popular across the UK, Jamie’s Italian concentrates once again on offering uncomplicated, traditional dishes that benefit most from the excellent quality of the ingredients. The carpaccio (£11.95), for example, features perfectly seasoned cured beef, fresh and peppery rocket, sweet roasted beetroot, fennel, parmesan and a perfectly balanced (and subtle) mix of horseradish, chilli, balsamic and olive oil.
The pea bruschetta (£4.75) boasts similarly impressive ingredients, but the execution isn’t quite as good, with toast that tears and an uneven distribution of smashed peas, broad beans, buffalo ricotta, mint and lemon, which is a shame as when it’s as it should be the combination is delicious. Desserts are a return to form though, with an incredibly light and creamy panna cotta (£4.95) beautifully balanced by a sharp compote of red berries.
Probably sitting safe in the knowledge that you can’t really go wrong with Italian wine, it’s a purely authentic wine list, with options starting with a perfectly reasonable, fruity house chardonnay available by the bottle (£15.35), by 500ml (£11.25) or by the glass (£4.35). If you do want to spend a little more you can, with plenty of options just over the £20 mark but nothing that’ll break the bank. Coffees (£1.95 for an Americano) are good, and certainly strong enough to keep any Italians happy, whilst you can also pick up bottled beers (Messina is £3.55, Castello £3.95), fresh juices (£2.55) and all the usual carbonated favourites.
The Last Word
The Westfield is something of a mixed bag when it comes to eating but if you stick to Jamie’s Italian you’ll be in good hands. Tell your friends and feel free to say words like pukka and wicked.