As an Italian food-obsessive, Brightons Mediterraneo Deli, which is a deli by day and intimate restaurant by evening serving home cooked Sicilian food, was something which I definitely needed to sample. Being served real, authentic Italian dishes in a family run, small scale establishment is an exciting prospect. Trip advisor ratings hail this as the number 1 restaurant in Brighton which along with a one month waiting list for a table set our expectations for the experience extremely high. We arrived as party of 6 and squeezed ourselves around the beautifully set table as we were greeted warmly by the owner Giorgio.
The Mediterraneo Deli is miniscule in size and dimly lit with candelabras which give the feel of being at a dinner party rather than in a restaurant (which is no bad thing). The paintings which adorn the walls are not to my taste but it is always refreshing to eat somewhere with distinct personality and this venue certainly has that in spades.
Giorgio was a wonderful host and explained to us in detail everything about the Mediterraneo Deli which he runs with his wife, the dishes he serves and the ingredients they use. This is what makes a meal here special compared to larger restaurants and I can certainly understand the appeal. This being said however there were some aspects of the service which we weren’t quite so keen on: Throughout the evening wine bottles are not kept on the table but rather small measures are poured for you and then the bottle is whisked away and kept on the other side of the restaurant. This was frustrating as you are often left with an empty glass looking longingly for Giorgio to return and replenish you. Between 6 of us we drank 2 bottles of wine but would normally have polished off more had it been in arms reach!
The time waiting between courses was also long. Understandably it is a small establishment so the kitchen facilities are no doubt tested by a room full of hungry diners however we booked a table at 7.30pm and didn’t actually pay the bill until nearly midnight which even for those who like to savour their meal is no short space of time.
I had the aubergine melenzane which was flavoursome, however this particular recipe included potatoes within the dish rather than as an accompaniment. This meant that there was nothing to cut through the acidity of the tomato flavour because the side dish, although again not unappetising, tasted remarkably similar to the melanzane itself; there was little variation of flavour on the plate. My friends and dining companions sampled more meaty dishes and their general consensus was similar in that it is good food, beautifully presented, but for the price of the meal perhaps not memorable enough. The highlight for me was the tiramisu which is generously portioned and not overly sweet.
Mediterraneo Deli is certainly an experience worth trying for the sheer unexpectedness of walking straight off the hectic London road into an oasis of calm and tranquillity which I had barely ever noticed when walking past. Giorgrio was as I said a great host and we did have a lovely evening. Ultimately though I think our party were just expecting more of a relaxed meal and the fine dining experience is not something which has ever really appealed to me personally. Looking through Trip Advisor comments though I realise I am in the minority in saying it didn’t blow me away so it is something which you will have to try and judge for yourself!