News from the newly revamped, renovated and rejuvenated Granville Arcade in Brixton, AKA Brixton Village. Left abandoned and dilapidated for the last ten years or so, a creative arts agency by the name of Space Makers took it over just before Christmas and invited artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, chefs, writers, cineasts and more to take over the empty stalls and transform them into usable spaces, thus reviving the back of the market with a series of pop-up shops, cafès, even a tiny cinema and street theatre, DJ booths and children’s reading clubs.
The Space-Makers end of the market has only been opened a couple of weeks and yet already a few places are making waves in the national British press. Time Out, who recently made it its mission to track down London’s best coffee, riled a few readers by failing to include Federation Coffee, by the Coldharbour Lane entrance to the market. More on that later…
The first eatery to catch my eye, not surprisingly, was an Italian one. Bellantoni’s is a tiny shop, with dark wood panelled front and large windows which seats about 5 (at a squeeze) people inside and has two tables outside. Behind his small counter, Dario Bellantoni a young chef from Genova, whips up fresh hand-made pasta daily, along with a small selection of tasty bites and, of course, coffee. On the Monday I popped in, there were two baked pasta dishes with spinach and rocket, or shiitake mushrooms, as well as cannelloni stuffed with meat.
Good wholesome warming food, full of flavour and perfectly comforting given the sub-zero temperatures outside. My meal came to £5.50 with coffee, which is less than you’d spend on a dubious Big Mac meal from hell up the road. A few locals from the market strolled in for a chat and a bite as Dario busied himself twisting tagliatelle into nests and dishing out relationship advice to anyone who’d listen. Once he plonked down a small dish of homemade twisted bread beside me and a large jug of olive oil to drizzle I felt teleported back to the Bel Paese all over again. “Tomorrow, he said as I shovelled creamy spinachy deliciousness into my mouth, I will make stuffed tomatoes”. There was also noise about a possible baked apple cake.
At the deli counter, a small selection of well chosen cheeses, including the sinful and divine Burratina – a sort of softer mozzarella oozing buttery cream – and smoked Scamorza which is perfect grilled until soft and served on a bed of rocket with thin slivers of parma ham. Neither of these cheeses are easy to find in the UK, so jot Dario’s address down now!
The warm red walls of Bellantoni’s are strung with chilli peppers and small framed anecdotes and quotes from the Chef, doling out such nuggets of wisdom as “If you know, you know, if you don’t know, you don’t know”. Failing the messages on the wall, Dario’s entertaining stories will pepper up your lunch as will the excellent coffee.
Bellantoni’s is opposite the art gallery and the Enter the Field pop-up shop