Situated on Coombe Road, Norbiton, Italian restaurant Trattoria Calabrese has been expertly serving the local community for the past 15 years. Offering an exceptional fine-dining experience with a surprisingly reasonable price tag, this fantastic eatery is far from just your local Italian.
The recent arrival of new, multi-talented head chef Arsim Hoti has bought a spate of positive change for the restaurant. Arsim, who worked with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay for 8 years and has won awards for his culinary creativity, is leading the kitchen aided by a completely new team.
Open, spacious and perfect for some al fresco dining when the weather’s a little warmer, the charm of the restaurant is immediately apparent before you’ve even entered.
Chef Hoti is enthusiastic in his approach and personal in his service, greeting customers and sparking conversation when he’s not too busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
To coincide with the arrival of the new chef team, some front of house changes are evident too. An authentic, rustic interior design complete with distressed chairs, cosy furnishings and wooden panelling allows you to feel as though you’re enjoying a taste of Italy in the country itself.
Great care has gone into every detail in the restaurant both inside and out, right down to the fresh flowers on every table.
The menu is extensive, offering something for everyone without losing that authentic Italian touch.
To start, we opted for Scallops served with Butternut Squash Puree and Balsamic Vinegar, Chicken Livers in a Garlic, Chilli and Thyme Jus and King Prawns with a Garlic, Chilli and Parsley Sauce.
Presented with precision, it’s clear that refined plating is a top priority for the Trattoria Calabrese – and trust us, it tasted as good as it looks. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the flavours intertwined well with the cucumber and purée, whilst the balsamic vinegar provided a tangy, acidic note to the dish.
Portion size was a highlight – the chicken liver especially, arriving on a crostini to add some texture and making for a hearty starter.
The king prawn dish was undeniably our favourite of the starters; the accompanying sauce was delicious and the prawns, presented semi-peeled, were succulent and fresh (their seafood is delivered several times per week).
Moving onto our mains, we selected Spigola Alla Mediterranea and Linguine Ai Frutti Di Mare. The Linguine is reserved for the seafood lovers among us and those with a large appetite – the homemade linguine was piled high with squid, mussels, clams and prawns in a chilli, garlic and white wine sauce. An exceptionally generous portion!
The Spigola Alla Mediterranea, aka fillet of sea bass presented on a bed of spinach with capers, olives, parsley and white wine sauce, was a unique take on the standard fish dish. If you, like us, enjoy your fish tender with cracking crispy skin, you’re in luck – we haven’t enjoyed sea bass as good as this in quite some time.
We couldn’t resist taking some of this fantastic food back for the rest of the team. We grabbed two pizzas, the Monte Verde, topped with parma ham and parmesan shavings, and the traditional Fiorentina, topped with spinach and egg.
The parma ham was salty and the parmesan cheese shavings were plentiful. Accompanied by a handful of rocket, the flavours blended well leading to some very happy staff members! The Fiorentina was also a success, packing a flavoursome punch with some spot-on spinach distribution. Served on a light, crispy thin base at a very desirable price, the Trattoria Calabrese have got lunchtime in the office sorted.
A range of customary, homemade Italian desserts are also available for those with an irresistible sweet tooth – we gave the Tiramisu and the Panna Cotta a try. The Tiramisu, light and of superb portion size, wasn’t overpowered by the coffee and whilst it was made with a dash of alcohol, this wasn’t superseding of the intended taste. Once again, the presentation was impeccable.
The Panna Cotta was, as expected, executed marvellously. Creamy in texture and finished with a zesty blueberry drizzle, this could potentially be Kingston’s best wobbly dessert. Made with beef gelatin rather than pork, the new team have an expert eye for detail and are keen to cater to all in our local community. An exquisite end to an exquisite meal.
With the new team settled in and Chef Hoti taking the lead, Trattoria Calabrese is in safe hands. The team are still in the process of tweaking the menu so we’ll definitely be heading back to see what exciting changes are in store. The enthusiasm of the team is reflected in the food itself and it’s no surprise that the restaurant is no stranger to repeat customers.
Don’t forget to book in advance to avoid disappointment. You can book a table on 0208 546 6968 and view the menu on their website here.