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Dining out at… Intimo fresco, Maldon

PUBLISHED: 12:11 26 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:11 26 August 2014

EXG SEPT 14 DINING OUT

EXG SEPT 14 DINING OUT

Archant

WITH an impressive frontage right in the heart of the town centre of Maldon, Intimo Fresco also has a stylish interior which doesn’t let the side down, with large swirling red and black florals, dark wood furniture and leather chairs. On the lunchtime I visited the sunshine was out and so I chose to walk through to an enclosed courtyard at the back of the building to dine. With a decking floor and parasol tables, it was quite a suntrap and perfect for enjoying some authentic Italian cuisine. As I sipped my Salento Bianco from the Puglia region of Italy, I checked out the lunch menu — a very reasonable £12.95 for two courses. Five different starters including a delicious-sounding mozzarella in carrozza, fried and sliced bread, stuffed with buffalo mozzarella, anchovies and basil then topped with wild rocket salad and Parmesan. Deciding that might be a bit heavy for me, I opted instead for the melanzana Parmiggiana, which is sliced aubergine oven-baked with tomato, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. It arrived bubbling hot and the garlicky aroma made my mouth water instantly. There was so much intensity from such simple ingredients, which is what I love about good Italian cuisine.

When I booked earlier that morning, the lady on the phone very helpfully pointed me towards the nearest car park, which was literally across the road from the restaurant and only £1.40 for four hours parking, so ideal if you also have time for a shop after your lunch. I personally would have loved to have seen a fish dish on the set menu, however, if instead you choose from the a la carte menu there is lemon sole, sea bass and lobster.

For my main course I went for the gnocchi salsiccia picante — fresh potato dumplings cooked in an Italian sausage and tomato sauce with a touch of garlic and chilli. Served with fresh basil and Parmesan it was superb and so good I couldn’t leave a spoonful of the sauce. I checked out the dessert menu purely so I could write about it. Starting from £4.95, it included tiramisu and vanilla panna cotta with mango coulis or you could choose the mini cheese board for £6.95. However, once I spied homemade limoncello cheesecake served with fresh dairy ice cream, I knew I couldn’t resist. It was simply delicious and appreciated with a smooth cup of Italian filter coffee. All the flavours that afternoon coupled with the balmy weather and attractive surroundings transported me straight to Italy. All that was missing was a snooze afterwards on a sun lounger.

Useful to know

The total bill came to £26.50 for three courses and wine. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

Table Talk with diners NO TABLE TALKERS THIS MONTH

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Intimo Fresco

The Gables

116 High Street

Maldon

CM9 5ET

01621 843 197

www.intimo-fresco.com

Side Orders

Three other authentic Italian eateries

Pietros

20 The Square

Stock

CM4 9LH

01277 829772

www.pietrositalianrestaurant.com

We say: With a choice of a la carte or set menu for lunch and dinner and within striking distance of Billericay, Ingatestone and Chelmsford, it makes a great base to explore before or after you’ve dined.

Bartellas

Furze Hill

Ivy Barn Lane

Margaretting

CM5 0EN

01277 355021

www.bartellas.com

We say: Open Tuesday to Sunday, its manicured gardens offer a perfect spot for some alfresco Italian dining. With a reward card scheme, its worth going again – and again!

Pieros

51 High Street

Ingatestone

CM4 0AT

01277 353194

www.pierosrestaurant.co.uk

We say: For homemade pizza and authentic Italian cuisine, Pieros is open and ready to serve you seven-days-a-week, plus it offers a relaxing bar area to unwind in before your meal.

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