I had my first taste of Jamie Oliver’s Italian In Birmingham recently, although I’m sad to say, it was not cooked by the man himself.
My taste buds were instantly tantalized the moment I set foot in the door. Whizzing past were giant plates of homemade pasta, burgers, steaks and antipasti dishes. Alas, we had to let our mouths water a bit longer whilst we waited 20 minutes for a table. A cheeky glass of wine at the welcoming bar soon settled our hunger pangs. We anticipated having to wait, due to not being able to make a booking because of Jamie’s incredible popularity.
Set in the courtyard outside the back of the Bullring, Jamie’s Italian is in prime location for those looking for a top munch after a day of shopping. The restaurant has a very rustic and Mediterranean feel to it. It has the appearance of an old factory conversion, with exposed bricks and pipes. Apparently ‘Jamie’ had the idea of keeping Birmingham’s industrial history when it came to design (I have my doubts that he had anything to do with the restaurant). But to back up his claims: the floors are distressed wood whilst the tables and chairs are made of aluminum. It was very spacious and has a floor to ceiling window overlooking Edgbaston Street.
Bustling with people of all ages, I get the feeling that the restaurant will be popular regardless of the food. Anything Jamie touches turns to gold (just look at the £101.55 million he has earned from book sales alone, helping him to become the biggest selling author after JK Rowling). An amazing feat for someone who does not proclaim to be the most literate nor, intelligent of individuals. Often criticized for his ‘Mockney’ accent (‘Someone who wishes they were Cockney so they can be cool, famous Mockney’s include Guy Richie, Jamie Oliver, Lilly Allen, and obviously Kate Nash’. Urban Dictionary, 2005), Jamie has carved a career because of his down-to-earth nature. After great success as a chef, author, media personality, advocator for healthy food in schools & campaigner for all of America to improve their diets & reduce their gargantuan fast-food intakes, it was only a matter of time until Jamie forayed into the restaurant business. And mark my words; the world is a better place for it.
After mulling over the mouthwatering dishes on the menu, my boyfriend and I opted to share the Turbo Fusilli Arrabiata Pasta and the Bresaola & Rainbow Beet Salad. My mum chose Jamie’s Italian Spaghetti Bolognese (always a safe choice when he pops his name in there). Each dish read like poetry, and I could taste it before it even arrived on my table. 20 minutes later, our food arrived, and we were not disappointed.
Starting with the giant plate of Bresaola beef and beet in an array of vibrant colours, my taste sensations were tingling as I went to take my first bite. Even if it did not taste good, it certainly looked the part: but I must say, it did not disappoint. I savoured every morsel of it, and will recommend it highly for its subtle yet scrumptious flavours.
BRESAOLA AND RAINBOW BEET SALAD £11.75
Finely sliced beef with roasted beetroot, rocket, fennel, horseradish, Parmesan, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil.
The next course was the sweet and spicy arrabiata scattered with breadcrumbs. I would believe it if someone told me that Jamie himself cooked it, as again, it was flawless. As a regular complainer in restaurants, I was dumbfounded that I had nothing to voice my concerns about. It was all perfectly presented at the right temperature and prickled at my palette like a dream. My only complaint was that my belly wasn’t big enough to have the spaghetti Bolognese as well. I would say that this is the dish to be recommended for anyone going to Jamie’s Italian. The flavours were so unique, and not like any other spag bol I have tasted before. A mixture of beef and pork seems like a strange combination, but trust me, you will regret not trying this dish.
JAMIE’S ITALIAN SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE £6.65/£10.25
The old school classic ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and Parmesan with crunchy herby breadcrumbs
TURBO FUSILLI ARRABIATA £6.25/£10.25
Sweet and spiced tomato sauce with herby breadcrumbs, sprinkled with my favourite Scotch bonnet chilies
Although you are more likely to be served by Paul or Tony from Mosely, rather than Paulo or Antonio from Milan, it serves food to rival any Italian restaurant I have ever been to. With friendly staff and a welcoming interior, as well as tasty food washed down with a bottle of red, this was the perfect meal.
The bill came to £52.50 for 3 dishes and a bottle of red wine — well worth it considering that the portions were huge, and the food was absolutely top quality.
In the words of Jamie Oliver — it was ‘Pukka’.