Cattivo: Is This Brixton Restaurant Really As Naughty As It Claims?
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Cattivo. It's Italian for 'bad' — an ominous name for a bar-restaurant — or 'naughty', which is ominous in a much more promising way.
Sister venue to Martello Hall in Hackney, and Canova Hall — directly opposite Cattivo on Ferndale Road — we think we know roughly what to expect from this new opening. Gin still, check. Cocktail-centric drinks menu, check. Friendly buzz, check. High-ceilinged, low-lit charmer of a spot? Same same, so far.
But unlike Canova Hall, a fun but haphazard night out, the service at Cattivo is both relaxed and seamless. We throw a few lesser-spotted allergen questions at our waitress and they're met with a wealth of preparedness and helpfulness. We get some honest and on-point advice when we're torn between multiple cocktails.
The roasted squash salad is a nice, functional small plate, but our stuffed courgette flower is a gorgeous thing — the goat's cheese it's filled with is made doubly rich with slicks of honey and warm, biscuity scatterings of pine nuts.
The beef meatballs are nailing it on generous, eating-for-hibernation-season portion size, and the spaghetti's chewy and compulsive. But the meatballs themselves are underwhelming — on the dry side and with so much rosemary it's something of a spike hazard in every forkful. The beef pappardelle's the one we'd order again: deep, rich shreds of meat clinging to the pasta.
Cocktails are a point of pride here, several of them made with Cattivo's own small-batch gin. And they talk a big game about their off-menu abilities, making good on it with a perfect Manhattan that's, yeah, pretty perfect. With a neon-lit bar downstairs, regular gig nights and a late licence at weekends, we can see this place luring you in with carb-loading and then locking you into a spiral of gin, cocktails and live music till the small hours.
Cattivo. Could get sort of naughty. Not half bad.
Cattivo, 207 Ferndale Road, SW9 8BA.
Last Updated 08 January 2020