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Restaurants of Brighton & Hove

Carluccio's Caffe

3 Jubilee Street
Tel: +44 (0)1273 690 493
Guide price: £25

Lucky old Brighton, no more trips to branches in Tunbridge Wells or W1 for some top Italian tucker - we've got a Carluccio's all of our own.

Nestled in Brighton's 'cultural quarter'- that'll be the North Laines - Carluccio's offers the full whammy; a cosy breakfast, a bustling lunch or a candlelit evening supper.

Often called the master of Italian food, celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio went to Vienna at the tender age of 18 and, it was there, that he started to cook and become passionate about the food from his own country. It lead to Antonio, along with his wife Priscilla, opening their first Italian food shop in Covent Garden in 1991, bringing the finest quality regional Italian food to London.

A few years later, Carluccio's has developed into a great, reasonably priced caffé meets food shop concept with branches throughout London and the South. Food is prepared using the best, fresh natural ingredients, often sourced from all over Italy.

Antonio decided it was time to head to the seaside, when the little girl of some family friends started to cry when she realised there wasn't a Carluccio's near her new residence in Brighton.

The Brighton restaurant interior is striking and modern. A light and airy space with a huge glass wall spanning the entire length of the venue, blending minimalist chrome features with a palette of vibrant colours, including eye-catching red banquette seating.

The opening party was a Bellini-fuelled, accordion-playing affair, hosted by Mr Carluccio himself. We'd love to tell you about all the other Brighton celebs present, but, to be quite honest, we were too busy making the most of the canapés. Massive loaves of foccacia stuffed full of mozzarella & sundried tomato, mini plates of beautifully moist risotto, huge rounds of pungent, salty Parmesan and slivers of tasty mushroom frittata all helped the evening go with a bang.

Now that the City's Carluccio's is up and running, you can nip in for a little lunchtime takeaway tartlet or pizza for £2.50 and a host of other deli items, a foody gift for that birthday you've forgotten, a working lunch or an ace dinner.

Maybe start the day with the ultimate Italian breakfast, with options including uova e funghi (free-range scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms on toasted ciabatta) or a Carluccio's breakfast bread tin (freshly baked croissant and toasted breads with butter and Carluccio's own Italian jam or honey).

For lunch or dinner, the Virtual Brighton team is a fan of the melt-in-the-mouth ravioli, filled with spinach and ricotta and delicately flavoured with a butter and sage sauce (£6.50) and the Milanese di pollo (£8.25) - flattened bread-crumbed chicken with a peppery green salad.

Unlike many Italian restaurant groups, there's also a good selection of reasonably-priced wines by the glass, so you're not lumbered with the house plonk if the rest of your party isn't drinking.

Lots of lovely puds too. How about the pesche all' amaretto (£4.40) A lovely peach soaked in Dolcetto, served with a peach and amaretti puree, amaretti biscuit and luscious ice cream.

Carluccio's is a welcome addition to the Brighton restaurant scene. It's a relaxed environment, where you can cosy up for a cheeky date, take the kids that were a result of the dating thing, hang out with your mates, arrange a family get-together or feel completely comfortable dining alone. Signor Carluccio, evviva!

Feb 2006

Guide price £25
KEY Licensed
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VB review
Takeaway menu available
Designated No Smoking area
No Smoking
Kids are very welcome
Produced by NTD