4 months ago

It’s all ‘groove and booze’ at Osteria Mbare

Every Friday and Saturday night this Clapham Italian turns up the vibes. How? With a live DJ and 50% off drinks.

The interior of Osteria Mbare is trendy. In an Andy Warhol-esk style, there’s Aperol bottles all over the vast wall as you enter, it’s dimly lit, there’s a piano perched and ready in the corner. And we love those 70’s pink sofas at the back which you should absolutely request if you’re a group of 4. But it’s great for a date as well, the atmosphere is ready to impress without being stuffy or too serious. If you’re there on a Friday or Saturday evening then we’d recommend starting your evening with a meal on the ground floor before moving to the lounge downstairs where you can sip on your half price cocktail(!) and nod your head to a live DJ from 8.30pm.

The cocktails really make for some show stopping drinks. With a drinks menu full of expertly crafted drinks, it was hard to decide on just a few. We went for a very punchy duo; the mango and chilli margarita was beautifully presented and before even taking a sip we knew it was going to impress. A perfect contrast between sweet and spicy made it extremely drinkable. The pear highball encompassed the delicate, smooth taste of the fruit very well and, again, came with a lot of thought in its appearance. Because we were there on a Friday evening it meant that both drinks came to £12. You read that right. £12. For both! Text the group chat immediately.

Italian hospitality is really embodied in the food menu. It feels warm and passionate, and cicchetti (Italian sharing plates) is the only way to go. So we started with some focaccia bread. And sure, how good can bread be? According to Osteria Mbare it can be really, really good. This one was warm, oozing high quality olive oil and had that really satisfying crisp outer edge to it. A bit of balsamic vinegar on the side to dip and we were in carby heaven. Having been scarred previously by some rubbery-textured bites, wouldn’t usually choose an octopus dish. But the confit octopus was highly recommended by our waiter, so we trusted them. And we are glad we did. It was smokey and melt-on-your-tongue tender and came with a bright tumble of vegetables to lift the whole plate: kale, avocado hummus and tomato chutney were fantastic partners to the meat. Arrosticini are char-grilled lamb belly skewers and were smothered in a tangy pepper and orange sauce which made them incredibly moreish, whilst the carbonara croquettes are crispy little bites you’ll kick yourself if you don’t order. They come topped with a whack of salt from a piece of guanciale which was incredibly satiating.

By this point we were getting pretty full from indulging in the cicchetti but listen, it wouldn’t be a trip to Osteria without a portion (or two) of their freshly in-house made pasta. So we took a deep breath and tucked into the seafood linguine and the carbonara. Both were generous in size, Osteria Mbare are already known to have the biggest pasta portions in Clapham and this visit was no exception. The linguine was piled high with mussels and prawns and though it was a struggle to finish, it was a delight to try. Carbonara was on the specials the day we visited and it remains one of our favourite pasta dishes they do. If you find it on the specials list, order it. It keeps us coming back for more and we think it will do the same for you too.

Groove and booze is exactly how we are planning on starting our weekend evenings from now on. You’ll get some incredible drinks for a fraction of the usual price you’d find in London at prime time and whether you’re going out or staying in, lining your stomach with their fantastic food is always a good idea.

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