Review: Amico Bio, Barbican

Pasquale Amico

Pasquale Amico - Credit: Archant

Priding itself on being the first vegetarian Italian restaurant to open in London, Amico Bio offers some delicious and contemporary dishes that will pleasantly surprise even the meat lovers out there.

Tucked away down Barbican’s leafy Cloth Fair, opposite a stunning church, this beautiful little restaurant uses only fresh, organic produce direct from the owner’s family farm in Italy.

The menu is divided up into four sections – sharing, starters, pastas and mains – and everything is prepared on site, from the ravioli to the ice-cream.

Overwhelmed with choice, we let owner, chef and devoted vegetarian, Pasquale Amico, select our dishes.

We started with some giant green olives and a glass of organic Prosecco to whet our appetite, followed by some hummus with Sardinian bread and roasted tofu.

Next up was vegan short pasta with pumpkin and sage sauce and hand-made ravioli filled with smoked cheese and sun-dried tomatoes – both delicious and beautifully presented.

Our mains consisted of a rich and creamy ricotta-filled pancake with beetroot, served with a chickpea and carrot salad and vegetable tempura made with polenta.

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All the dishes hint to Italy’s love of fresh market vegetables and rather than drowning in onions, garlic or stock, they are kept in their purest form.

The food is, of course, seasonal so the menu often varies, which I imagine keeps Pasquale and his cooks on their toes having to come up with new and innovative dishes every week.

The only unhealthy part of the meal was the rum baba I was determined to have for dessert. Sweet, doughy and very alcoholic, I loved every mouthful.

We also sampled some of the vegan ice-cream which I was a little sceptical about at first, but it turned out to be better than most ice-creams I’d ever had.

Pasquale also runs another branch of Amico Bio in Holborn, which he says is popular among busy office workers wanting a quick bite with their clients.

This branch felt more like somewhere to come and linger over your food with friends for an evening with its wooden floors, fireplace and panel windows looking out onto a leafy street.

In terms of price, I was surprised at how reasonable the dishes were. A starter and main will set you back no more than £17.

The drink too is very reasonable considering it is all organic – wine starts at £16.

All in all it’s an excellent place to come and enjoy a meal after a long day at work, and so delicious is the food I guarantee you won’t be left wondering where the meat is.