Marcella is a new Italian restaurant & bar at Deptford, South East London. It is the sister restaurant of one of the rising restaurants in Peckham called Artusi. The restaurant is small and cosy, with a bright modern and simplistic setting.
We walked in on a Sunday for lunch. It was still quite quiet when we arrived, but seats quickly started filling up quick afterwards. When we first sat down, we were left with a lot of confusion. This is because we were totally unaware that Marcella only serves a three-course set menu on the weekends. It wasn’t explained very clearly to us when we sat down. We were simply told that the menu is on the board and didn’t explain there’s no a la carte menu available.
I must admit we were a bit disappointed when we found out. There wasn’t a lot of options available on the set menu – two per course, one with meat and one vegetarian. The meats here aren’t halal (though I suspect they come from a halal supplier), so it really leaves us with no option. Moreover, we were planning for a moderate lunch rather than going in for three courses – we just felt we really got ripped out of choices for a moment. So we started ‘liaising’ with the staff and thankfully they agreed on giving us an exception to share one order of the three-course menu between the two of us.
Shortly after we ordered our food, bread was served. The bread was nice, with this malty flavour. However, one thing that annoyed me is the butter. Not that the butter was rock hard but it was certainly not easy to spread on the bread. Perhaps warmer bread would be better?
Crab Arancini (£2 each)
In addition to the set menu, I ordered an Arancini as well. This was off from the bar snack section that’s on the drinks menu. The Arancino was fairly nice, with a crispy and golden coating on the outside. There’s a good texture of risotto rice in it and it’s not too mushy. In terms of flavours, there’s a distinct hit of crab in it. In overall, pretty good flavours and lovely texture – it’s certainly a great nibbler to accompany with some drinks.
Ricotta, Squash, Hazelnuts
Onto the starters, we got the Ricotta & Squash dish that’s topped with hazelnuts and rocket leaves. The presentation of the dish was visually appealing. It’s a sweet and creamy dish to savour. The texture was relatively mushy and the hazelnuts added a nice contrast. Though just a starter, the portion was pretty decent and it’s actually quite filling.
Fusilli, Garlic, Fennel, Spinach
Now to the hugely anticipated pasta. Firstly I thought that was a pretty good portion – which makes me happy. The pasta was pretty delightful. It’s hand-made and cooked to an al dente texture. Flavour and sauce-wise, it’s actually richer than I expected. To be fair, there wasn’t much of a spinach taste in there but definitely a good punch of garlicky and fennel that’s touched up with generous amount of cheese. It was in overall decent but slightly plain after a while.
On a side note, about more than halfway through the pasta, we actually came across a piece of hair in the dish. We raised it to the staff and they kindly sent it back to the kitchen and offered a new plate of it.
Torta di Caprese
Last but not least, the dessert course. For desserts we chose Torta di Caprese, a traditional flour-less Italian chocolate and almond cake originated at Capri Island. The cake itself wasn’t very chocolate-y and definitely not overly sweetened. There was a decent nutty touch in it and the texture was reasonably moist. What we both enjoyed the most though, is the whipped cream cheese that’s served alongside with the cake.
We thought it was ice cream at first but the consistency certainly tells it wasn’t. It’s relatively dense in texture and quite gluey. It complemented the cake really well, or I am even inclined to say the other way round – the cake complemented the cream cheese. This is because for myself personally, that cream cheese flavour popped out more than the chocolate cake. In addition, I thought it was quite refreshing to the palate as well. All in all, it’s quite a delightful dessert that’s not overly rich but for sure satisfying.
Summing up, we thought Marcella is an okay spot. It definitely stands out within Deptford and is for sure a great concept to add to the area. The food was moderate and ambience was decent either. However I wasn’t a hundred percent sold on the place. The unclear weekend set menu situation and lack of options certainly had affected my impression for the restaurant. Then the hair and a dirty glass (we simply swapped it out) occurred throughout the meal – it’s not a huge deal and they did handle it pretty well when we raised about the hair, but it does kill the impression a bit. By no means I think Marcella was disappointing, it’s merely not how I personally expected it to be. If you’ve been there, let us know your thoughts!
Halal Status: no halal meats