What: Not your typical Italian restaurant, Canova Hall is straying from traditional options and giving Italian food a 21st century make-over.
First Impression: There were a lot of attractive people at Canova Hall and not like Chelsea kind of attractive where everyone has an element of part time model about them but a lot of normal attractive people milling about, including staff I may add.
On The Menu: The casual, Italian menu has everything you would expect from an Italian like pizza and pasta and a tonne of a cheese plus, seeing as Canova Hall is in trendy Brixton, a load of vegan options like beetroot gnocchi with pistachio pesto, walnuts, rocket and sage. They also have an interesting looking brunch menu with options like toast with figs, Mascarpone, maple syrup, pistachios and thyme.
The Look: Super industrial looking as to be expected from Brixton, so it makes just enough effort to be worth visiting without looking like it has put any thought into the décor; think concrete floors, a tiled island bar and permanent fairy lights.
What We Ate: A whole lot, that’s for sure. Throwing myself in at the carb deep-end I started with fried mozzarella balls, best eaten by spearing a smokey tomato on your fork, then a mozzarella ball and then dipping it all in the hot red pesto. I really enjoyed the dough from the Green God pizza and I appreciated the different toppings of roast squash, beetroot, broccoli, mozzarella, pistachio pesto, ricotta and kale; Canova Hall also does white pizzas (a white sauce instead of tomato) so brownie points for that rare find. Chef’s Meatballs with ‘Nduja tomato sauce, parmesan with pecorino, rocket pesto and pizza bread are supposed to be a star dish but although it was nice there was a lot of sauce that felt unnecessary. Zucchini fries is one of my favourite treats and I didn’t really bother with the aioli it came with as they were so nice on their own. Another Canova Hall star dish is their only desert, a bag of bomboloni with local jam and Nutella. I got the impression they had just microwaved them rather than having them fresh out of the over but I still really liked them and you get a very generous portion.
What We Drank: Following in the footsteps of sister-site Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall has launched its own on-site gin distillery where they make Canova Gin. It’s a zingy spirit that you can find in their cocktails like ‘Canova Gin & Tonic’ and the ‘Canova Bramble’ made with said gin plus Chambord, cherry bitters, fresh lemon juice and maraschino cherry extract, and if you really love it you can buy small batch bottles to take home.
Go With: If you’re local to Brixton this is a great option to make your local; perfect to pop into for a recovery brunch and worth the effort to go for a date/drinks with friends.
Where: 250 Ferndale Road, Brixton, SW9 8BQ www.canovahall.com
Final Word: I liked Canova Hall, it brings in a good crowd and the food is unpretentious but also not what you’d expect from somewhere serving pizza and pasta, they’ve been a little adventurous with their menu and it pays off.