The Spaghetti Incident offers fresh Italian dishes – but not as you know them, writes Sammy Milton
Stokes Croft has seen many traders come and go in recent years. You have old reliable faces such as Pieminister, Poco Tapas and the Canteen, and we’ve also seen a flurry of places that didn’t hang around for long – MEATliquor, Wise Beans and Sticks and Broth. However, there’s always room for more, with new restaurants and bars opening all the time – one of them being The Spaghetti Incident.
Located at the bottom of Stokes Croft, close to Caribbean Croft and Ceres Coffee, it describes itself as “Bristol’s traditional yet modern Roman Italian restaurant”, and that’s certainly the impression you get as you walk in. Simple wooden tables adorn the space, with flowers on the tables and an open kitchen towards the back. Although it was quite empty, there was a welcoming atmosphere, and our server settled us in with ice-cold beers and some apertivos to get us started. A sweet fig came wrapped in salty Parma ham, followed by an olive stuffed with meat, then deep-fried. So far, so good.
The menu is nicely varied. There are starters such as cured ham, figs and goat’s cheese mousse, fried pizza with sweet and sour zucchini and cured meats, followed by a selection of Roman main dishes, specials and a selection of tiramisus to finish. After much deliberation, we decided to share a tagliere to start – a board of cured hams and salami, with a ball of mozzarella, olives and fresh breads.
It arrived promptly, and was the perfect starter for a warm summer evening. The board was packed full of food – the hams were deliciously fresh and soft, pairing beautifully with the creamy mozzarella, whilst the olives added a salty tang. The breads were undeniably fresh, and although the focaccia could’ve done with a sprig of rosemary and a sprinkling of sea salt, I couldn’t find much fault with any of it.
To keep things interesting, we decided to try two of the specials for our main courses. Gnocchi stuffed with wild mushrooms with a sage-infused butter, parmesan and fried sage for me, and a deconstructed lasagne for my dining companion. This is where things got a little confusing. My gnocchi came as five large dumplings, as opposed to a bowl of smaller pieces – by no means a bad thing, just perhaps not what I was expecting. However, the dumplings were piping hot and generously filled with rich mushrooms, the parmesan was plentiful, and the fried sage leaves were a lovely touch.
My friend’s deconstructed lasagne was a little disappointing. A generous portion, the plate came filed high with multi-coloured pasta sheets, chicken mince, parmesan and bechamel sauce. The pasta itself was nicely cooked, perfectly al dente, but the slightly cold mince and slightly-too-runny bechamel sauce let the dish down somewhat. Taste-wise, it was good, but I feel it could’ve benefited from not being, well, deconstructed. Perhaps lasagne is a dish that should be left as it is.
That said, on looking at reviews and images on Tripadvisor, we could see plentiful bowls brimming with tightly wound pasta in rich sauces – gooey, meaty ragouts and rich, creamy carbonaras – and I think this is where the strengths lie for The Spaghetti Incident. These items were, of course, on the menu at the time of our review, but we were swayed by the specials. Never mind – I’ll try these on my return.
Although a mixed bag, the location is wonderful, the service was quick and immensely friendly, and the atmosphere incredibly welcoming. So come and eat here – just stick to the classics.
The Spaghetti Incident
36 Stokes Croft
0117 330 1401
Image credit: Facebook – The Spaghetti Incident