Being Italian by birth I have grown accustomed to eating what is, in my biased opinion, the best food in the world. But I have struggled for many years to find a restaurant serving the type of food I can only describe as (in an involuntary Italian accent) ‘just like mama used to make’! I’ve been to many an Italian restaurant claiming to deliver ‘authentic’ Italian cuisine but instead offering Anglicised imitations of traditional dishes. All this changed however, when I discovered ‘Friends of Flavours’ – an unassuming restaurant nestled in the terraced roads of Penge, serving Italian food to compete with the heavyweight high street chains.
Small and intimate, the back of the restaurant opens out to a beautiful, rustic outside sitting area with vines creeping up the terracotta coloured walls. On a sunny day I’m sure it’s easy to forget that you’re near Bromley and instead imagine yourself dining al fresco in the back streets of Rome!
I started my meal with Caprino Fritto – discs of deep fried goat’s cheese with a silky, sweet and sour raspberry sauce, served on lightly toasted bread. I refrained from ordering another but unashamedly scraped my plate clean so as not to waste a bit. My main course was a beautifully presented dish of four freshly made Ravioli Asparagi served in a creamy butter, Parmesan and sage sauce, sprinkled with Parmegiano, drizzled with spots of balsamic vinegar and garnished with a fresh sprig of sage. Almost too beautiful to eat…almost. To finish, I ordered panacotta served with a raspberry coulis. Perfectly set and deliciously creamy, when it came to the table I regretted previously agreeing to share a dessert. I won’t make that mistake next time!
I mustn’t forget the lovely staff either – the service was exemplary, they’re passionate about what they do and they extend the customary Italian hospitality to all so you can expect to be treated like family. Humble yet soul-affirming, this meal epitomised all the wonderful qualities of Italian food. So, if you’re wondering what food ‘like mama used to make’actually tastes like, I recommend you visit this hidden gem delivering the heart and soul of Italian cooking.