Italian restaurant Cafe Amisha in Bermondsey has launched a new menu featuring homemade pasta.
In an uncertain economic climate and unproven location on Grange Road, Cafe Amisha opted for a soft opening as a pizzeria last November. Having made a promising start and attracting a growing number of regulars, the team have now decided to add pasta to the menu.
Assistant manager Francesco Messinas said: "Our customers were asking 'why don't you introduce pasta?' so we thought if we do good homemade pizza, let's do homemade pasta. We tried it for a few weekends as the chef's special and the feedback was fantastic."
While the name Amisha is distinctly Indian, the core team are very much Italian and the food authentic.
New to the restaurant game, the Indian owners wisely installed an established team headed up by general manager Luciano Rignaese who has over 17 years experience in hotels and restaurants. Luciano and Francesco first worked together five years ago at the London Hilton on Park Lane and they have brought in new head chef Ivan Tantari.
Originally from Rome, Ivan has worked as a sous chef at top London eateries for the past four years and is relishing his first role as head chef. He recommends the Tagliolini ai Gamberoni a Asparagi – homemade pasta with king prawns, asparagus, fresh tomato, chilli and garlic.
"My favourite ingredients are seafood so my pick of the new pasta is the prawn and asparagus or the linguine with clams," said Ivan. "The tagliolini, tagliatelle and lasagne sheets are all fresh pasta and the difference is the taste and flavour and the way the pasta combines with the sauce."
Francesco added: "Real homemade pasta is not easy to find. Our pizza dough is homemade and we also do homemade bread and cakes."
The open kitchen means diners can see the chefs at work and the decor is industrial chic, combining bare concrete walls with communal bench seating which is great for groups and individual tables with red leather chairs.
The restaurant is large and spacious with floor to ceiling windows and, despite its grown-up appearance, Cafe Amisha is kid-friendly with plenty of room for pushchairs.
"Sundays are popular with mums and their kids and people come in for coffee and the newspapers too," said Francesco. "Before there wasn't much around Grange Road so the customers have said they like having a nice restaurant nearby."