Dish With A Difference

We’re talking about: Italian brunch

Radici is capitalising on the brunch boom with a tasty twist on avocados and poached eggs.

15 February 2018
brunchitalianmenupizzarestaurants
  • The Dish: Pizza topped with smoked salmon, yoghurt, poached eggs, avocado, prosciutto and mushroom
  • The Place: Radici, London N1 1AD
  • The Chef: Francesco Mazzei, along with newly-appointed head chef Giuseppe Cafaro

What? Forget the full English or smashed avocado on toast. How about a brunch pizza? It’s big too, with a lot of toppings. Radici has one with smoked salmon, yoghurt, poached eggs, avocado, prosciutto and mushroom. Yes, all on the one pizza. That’s a lot to swallow, but it is designed for two to share.

Brunch is popular in Britain today, becoming a common weekend activity for millennials, who in particular enjoy indulging in a bottomless binge. And while Radici may have given the food a makeover, they are sticking to endless prosecco to keep some familiarity to the meal.

So, is this just an excuse to eat pizza at any time of the day or a clever way for a restaurant to differentiate itself with its brunch offering?

Chef patron Francesco Mazzei says in Italy pizza is not just for lunch and dinner, but all day long.

“When we first get up, we just have an espresso or a cappuccino and maybe a small pastry, so by mid-morning we are hungry, and pizza is the perfect solution,” he says.

“By 10.30am in Rome, everyone will be eating pizza al taglio [baked in rectangular trays], whilst on the streets of Napoli, people will be folding the thin slices of pizza Napoletana like a handkerchief and eating it in their hands. In Italy, we also pack our kids off to school with panino or slices of pizza in their bags, and in the south of Italy, we often snack on pitta Calabrese for brunch.”

 

Where? Radici was opened in Islington last year, with Guardian food reviewer Jay Rayner raving that chef Mazzei had always been wildly brilliant, but had never been good value until now. Mazzei was raised in Calabria and has a reputation for culinary adventure. He is credited with bringing ingredients like the citrus fruit bergamot and spicy sausage n’duja to Britain.

While Radici isn’t the first to offer a brunch pizza – Bunga Bunga in Battersea has them as well – its versions are more adventurous, drawing less on traditional toppings and more from brunch staples like avocado or poached eggs. And you really can’t have brunch without avocado, based on its seemingly endless popularity.

Why? Italian-style brunches have packed out New York City’s trattorias on Sundays for a while now. And like Radici, some of them have experimented with interesting combinations. New York’s fast casual eatery Sosta was serving up fun twists on classic Italian dishes, like breakfast spaghetti and spaghetti pie, plus mini Nutella sandwiches made with homemade ricotta.

Italian-American joint Rubirosa also has a menu full of unique brunch selections, from smoked salmon and mascarpone pizza, to poached eggs with mashed meatballs and a pizza with vodka sauce and fresh mozzarella.

Considering Brits spend £13bn on going out to brunch each year, it makes business sense to get involved. The market has been oversaturated with smashed avo and eggs benedict, but would offering something this different pique the curiosity for a one-off visit or encourage regulars? While placing pizza on the brunch menu isn’t too much of a stretch, the sheer volume of toppings may be off putting.

Radici also has some other bangers on the menu. These include (gulp) cannellini bean stew with poached eggs and sausage. Then there are the grilled pineapple and pancetta pancakes with mascarpone, honey and orange, which are said to be a fun take on prosciutto and melon that throws in Canadian bacon pancakes.

While we’re not entirely sold on this slice of the dolce vita, it does add some interesting new dimensions to the fourth meal.

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