‘The food and wine I was offered was an abomination’
Miscusi sashays into London with breezy confidence. There are 12 branches across Italy, in seven cities. Its founder, Alberto Cartasegna, pronounces that this is not just a restaurant: it is a beacon of a new way of dining, of sustainability, of nutritional balance, of regenerative agricultural projects, waltzing towards a future free of plastic, free of waste.
So get this: if you order their low-carbon-footprint pasta you get double loyalty points. They feel good, you feel good; the world can rest easy. Except for one crucial thing: the food and drink they offered me – and I can only speak from my experience of the new Covent Garden restaurant – what an abomination.
Indeed, if this was an ambassador for Italian cuisine, Miscusi ought to be summoned by the Foreign Office, if not the Italian embassy, and expelled. Unless, that is, Italian food has taken a turn for the worse since I last visited (and it is about three years because you know) and is now stodgy and dull, and the wine universally undrinkable – in which case, if replicating that , Miscusi is bang on the money.
But, come with me into this clean and modern establishment, half pasta shop, half sort of canteen, in the new-build enclave of Covent Garden called Slingsby Place. On arrival you might be offered a bruschetta – though not if you were my guest. The girl on the door appeared to look her up and down and, taking the view, perhaps, that she was a little too far north of 16 years old, did not deign to acknowledge her.
Then watch us as we sit beneath a ceiling hanging with wheat, distracted by a TV playing a rolling showreel video of Miscusi, of happy farms, happy chefs, happy diners, on and on.