Jamie’s Italian has the rustic charm of a Florence Bistro. Light and airy you immediately get the feeling you are walking into a bustling space where food is king, and every element of both the décor, the food and of course the experience has been worked out to perfection.
Jamie’s Italian was founded in Oxford just four years ago. Since then it has grown to more than 30 restaurants worldwide, and there are already plans for even more in towns, counties and countries around the world. But that’s not even half the story…
It started with the meeting of two unique minds, when a young Essex chef and an eccentric Italian met in the kitchen of London’s Neal Street restaurant back in the early 90s. Jamie Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo bonded while cooking the beautiful Italian food that had inspired them both since childhood, and the seed of an idea was planted.
Years later, having toured Italy and declared that he “should have been Italian”, the now-famous Jamie decided he wanted to share everything he knew about Italian cuisine with the rest of the world – the fresh, locally sourced ingredients; the bold and simple flavours; and the relaxed way of sharing dishes.
Two immediate things impress me from the start – first the fantastic attention to detail and memory of our waitress who remembers word for word the specials of the day. I’m intrigued. “How do you do that?” I ask. I am told that it’s all part of the daily energiser – where all the staff try out the specials of the day so that they understand what they taste like, as well as how they read on a menu.
This also helps the recommendation of a favourite which today is a slow cooked belly pork coupled with a delightful crackling but the menu itself is packed full of specialties from every corner of Italy, inspired by Jamie’s rich knowledge of the country after living between there and England for many years now.
The kids menu continues the ethos that’s right at the heart of Jamie’s Italian – food driven by what you would find ordinary people eating in Italy; rustic, simple dishes using the best ingredients and made with care but delivered without fuss.
The menu has been created with both kids and parents in mind. Chunky wooden serving boards and colourful Jamie’s Italian ‘Shake Me’ salads which accompany each dish are perfect for little hands while the different colours make it look even tastier.
They even made sure that the chicken lollipops were made without any egg meaning to cater for a rather delicate egg allergy.
Another interesting thing about the restaurant was the coloured tailored shirts I spotted the managers wearing. It was non pretentious and gave you a bit of the naked chef himself as though he was not so far away, and may even pop around the corner at any moment to see how your steak was faring up.
It’s a bostin restaurant, right in the heart of Birmingham. The only thing I’d say is that you would be better to book a table of eight people and make it an occasion to avoid a length queuing time, which simply shows the demand for the restaurant is high on the agenda of many city centre dwellers, 7 days a week.
To book a table or to find out more visit the restaurant webpages by clicking here.