Not fancy cooking, family cooking – dishes with a taste of home
When it comes to Italian food in Liverpool, Confidential readers are spoilt for choice but if La Famiglia isn’t on your radar yet, it should be. Tucked away up the cobbles of Stanley Street, La Famiglia offers the flavours you know and love with a distinctly Southern Italian twist.
Confidential came to speak to proud owners Giuseppe and Krzysztof to find out more about the restaurant, how they’re coping with the hospitality business post-Corona lockdown and what makes their food stand out from the rest.
No strangers to the Italian food scene in Liverpool, the guys at La Famiglia have worked with many of the big names in the city before taking the leap into opening their own place. But what makes Sardinian food so different? ‘It’s a mixture of cultures,’ Giuseppe and Krzysztof explain, ‘Italian, Spanish, North African… we can play around with it and experiment a bit’.
Opened just over a year ago, they’ve not been off to the best of starts, being forced to closed in March and now facing a whole host of new restrictions that, let’s face it, aren’t exactly conducive to booming business. We asked if the restaurant faced closure again whether La Famiglia might start running as a takeaway model instead. ‘It just wouldn’t work’, claims Giuseppe, ‘To us the quality is so important. It wouldn’t be the best quality’. Though adamant deliveries won’t be needed, they do admit that collections might have to be introduced if the restaurant were forced to close again. ‘We’ll think about that later,’ Krzysztof laughs, ‘For now we’ll just have good thoughts, y’know?’
When the food starts arriving it’s clear what sets La Famiglia apart from other restaurants in the city. Each of the starters smack of freshness. A full ball of creamy burrata is served atop a sweet and crunchy caponata salad - a dish introduced to the menu by one of the restaurant’s Puglian chefs. Its finely chopped cubes of carrot, aubergine, sweet red pepper, almonds and pine nuts really go to show that in cuisine like this, simplicity reigns supreme.
Culurgiones, a traditional Sardinian dish, is one the stand-outs. Potato and pecorino ravioli are the Italian answer to dumplings, resting in a simple tomato sauce with fresh mint leaves and basil oil. ‘Every dish has to have a taste of home’, explains Giuseppe. ‘When my brother came here he couldn’t believe we had this on our menu in the restaurant…it’s a home dish, rustic, they wouldn’t serve it to you in a restaurant in Italy’.
For mains Confidential share two pasta dishes recommended by the owners and it’s no surprise that these are the restaurant’s best sellers. The Paccheri Mare is the La Famiglia answer to seafood spaghetti which, whilst delicious and a popular choice across the city, isn’t quite the authentic dish we like to think it is. Here, thick chunks of tubular pasta sit amongst a whole trawler net of treats – shell-on king prawns, mussel and squid. It is a pure taste of the sea, taking us straight back to some of the best holiday memories with each and every bite.
Confidential’s top tip is the Fettucini Pistachio - not only a dish we’ve never eaten before but we’ve never even seen it on a menu and no wonder. ‘You can’t get it here,’ smiles Giuseppe proudly. ‘I think the nearest place that does it is Sheffield’. It’s another home dish consisting of fresh fettucine in a naturally creamy pistachio sauce. A few chunks of crisp pancetta add saltiness, a spritz of lemon zest freshens it all up, and of course a blanket of freshly grated parmesan finishes it off. If you try one thing on the menu, make it this.
Sensing we’re stuffed to the brim and faltering about ordering dessert, the staff go ahead and order one for us anyway. Very kind. Seadas, a Sardinian dish made with leftover cheese is another home dish that you’d usually only find around the dinner table. Mild, soured cheese is cooked into a fritter and then generously drizzled in warm honey. Giuseppe and Krys claim it’s the only one you can get on a menu anywhere in the North West.
The owners of La Famiglia have brought a taste of their own families and friends here to Liverpool and it definitely fills a gap. Rustic, homely dishes are made with the highest quality ingredients and every single dish oozes with care, passion and dedication. They stick to what they know, with no airs and graces and certainly no gimmicks. While Guiseppe maintains, ‘We don’t need to be shiny,’ they’re definitely an undisputed gem and should be top of your list of small businesses to support this winter.