The winner of the Muddy Award 2017 for Best restaurant deserves all the accolades
Nuovo may be a consistent (high quality fixture) in the mews just off the top of Abington Road, but Nuovo is also change in permanence. The Food and wine menu’s evolve at least twice yearly, with the constant being high quality cocktails, brilliant service and mouth watering cicchetti (savoury snacks or small side dishes). And like any good team, they are always adding more quality to what they do. Need more info? Let Muddy talk you through a great experience at one of Northampton’s gems.
So we’re in Northampton town centre, we’ve shopped, dropped or in this case we’ve just finished a radio interview on BBC Northampton and we’re in great need of a celebratory glass of vino. The point is that at the top of Abington street, directly opposite the BBC, is a secret hideaway and a much needed oasis away from the madding crowds scurrying past only a few yards away. The location makes it ideal for tired shoppers, gossiping colleagues & thirsty foodies during the day, and by night it’s the most romantic of locations (in the absence of a lapping shoreline or 30 degree balmy evening on the Med)
Once you’ve stepped away from the Abington street throng, it wont be long before you decide that you’d prefer to stay here all day (or night) rather than go back to your desk (or home). Entering through the small courtyard you’ll be letting your cares slip away as you walk past the first olive tree and enter the restaurant proper. You walk into a subtly lit, beautifully decorated restaurant with a small deli counter to your right and an amazingly well stocked bar. On both sides there are treats to be had. Just a bit further on is the open kitchen where the magic is created, but before I go on, let’s talk music. What I really love about Nuovo is the selection of house/dance/soul tunes playing delicately over the speakers. It’s modern, but not over-facing, and adds to the feeling that you really are “away from it all”
Before we work our way through the food and wine menus, it’s a Classic Martini for him, and a seriously good Negroni for me. My word Kostas Kolenides – General Manager, mixologist, charm personified – what a talent you are!
The big draw here is the food. We shared six dishes between us, starting with a crab tian, so lemony and fresh it could have been plucked from the (faraway) sea that morning.
Next up was a really generous sharing bruschetta , with juicy tomatoes, crunchy parmesan and basil, drizzled in the best olive oil. Yummy. Eating like this is such a pleasure as we compare notes on how much we enjoyed the last dish. That said, the real joy is that as each dish arrives the happy dial is turned up. New flavours and textures to eat as the wine (in this case a Picpoul with an interesting story) slips down all too easily.
Simple dishes always taste the best, and our favourite was a mouth watering lemon chicken with rosemary and parmesan, complemented with a lovely seared smoked Tuna (almost meat-like), and a truly equiste spaghetti aglio olio – brimming with chilli bite and tasty herbs.
Finally an amazing white chocolate cannoli to share. Flavours of strawberry make this a real joy to eat and actually I was a bit tearful when it was over/eaten. Especially since Mr Muddy nicked more than his fair share.
We’ve been here with our kids before and it’s definitely a family affair at Nuovo, and Kostas in particular is an extremely good host and as attentive as you’d like him to be. Large groups don’t seem to faze Nuovo at all and we’ve been many times as multi generations of Northamptonshire bods tuck into the menu. Kostas and his team tend to the generous bar like the experts they are, because they really know their stuff – food or drink related.
OUT & ABOUT
We’re in Northampton town centre, so we could shop I guess, but more interesting would be a short walk over to Becketts Park to walk off your latest meal, or if feeling culturally minded how about a trip over to nearby 78 Derngate, the Charles Rennie Macintosh House to take in one of their many exhibitions. We’re a cultural lot aren’t we?
Are we really surprised that Nuovo has maintained it’s high standards over the Northamptonshire years? Not really. Like any good team, they are always adding more quality to what they do. This years star signing is Chef, Scott Williams. Before joining Nuovo, Scott ran the kitchen on Richard Branson’s private island, Necker, and cooked privately for an elite athlete (bah, he wouldn’t tell us who).
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples or small groups looking for a good natter away from the hoi polloi OR large groups looking to celebrate “Mediterranean family style” with food and drink in abundance. It’s all super tasty and the cicchetti style of food ensures taste is never compromised – and sharing is encouraged.
Not for: Traditionalists looking for large plates and a pint of something dark and frothy.
The damage: It’s keenly priced for cooking this good. Cicchetti dishes range from around £5 – £12 – covering starters, mains, and puddings. Expect to spend £25-£30 per person (including booze). The Wine list isn’t cheap but the quality and selection isn’t in doubt. Plan to pay around £25 for a bottle of something rather good, just like the restaurant itself.
Nuovo, 104 Abington Street, Northampton, NN1 2BP – 01604 601100.