Carmelo Carnivale (formerly head chef at Novikov, Semplice, Harry’s Bar) and co-owner Massimo Pascale have just launched Ballaró on the former site of The Haverstock. Taking its name from the famous food market in Sicilian capital, Palermo, it will serve rustic, seasonal Mediterranean food with an emphasis on Sicilian ingredients and dishes.
Interiors, by designer Sally Yeoh, combine hints of old fashioned north London glitz with rustic Mediterranean warmth. Smart yet comfortable leather banquettes and chairs in spring lime complement simple, linen effect tabletops. Large windows run along two walls, giving the room a light and airy feel – as does a sky blue ceiling. Tuscan slate-tiled floors and a distressed white dresser and over-mantle are rustic touches, while mirror-effect retro lights and a mirror-tiled bar top add glamour.
The menu pays tribute to Carnivale’s native Sicily. Starters include Red wine marinated organic eggs with pecorino cheese, Avola D.O.P almonds and Modica bitter chocolate, Calf’s tongue with red wine braised endive and walnuts or Deep fried squid Palermitana style with chickpea pancake and spicy lime mayo.
As you’d expect pasta features heavily. Think Gragnano spaghetti with clams, bottarga, garlic, chilli and extra virgin olive oil, Ricotta gnudi with saffron pecorino cheese from Enna and Bronte pistachios and Cavateddi semolina pasta with pheasant and porcini ragout cooked in Nerello Mascalese wine.
Main courses include classics such as a Fiorentina T-Bone or Whole sea bass roasted or salt crusted to share with further options such as Sicilian couscous from Trampani with octopus and seafood, Rack of lamb with pumpkin tart, braised radicchio and orange blossom water and Roasted calf belly with chestnuts, fennel seeds and Marsala. There follow puddings of Classic tiramisu with Marsala, Sicilian lemons and chocolate cake served with Zibiddo wine sauce and figs.