I have a talent that is both a blessing and curse. No matter where in London - nay, the world - I will be able to find a good brunch spot; a restaurant that serves coffee with scoop-ably thick froth, butter soaked sourdough bread and crispy bacon. When Fucina pinged into my inbox a few weeks ago, it was my psychic brunch senses that told me this is the place to be come Saturday morning.
Venue and Atmosphere
You may not have heard of Kurt Zdesar, I certainly hadn’t, but one quick google search tells me that it’s a name worth remembering. Having started his career in McDonalds, the restaurateur has whizzed up the career ladder at rocket speed to head the European success story of Nobu, opened Black Roe in Mayfair and now turned his attention to Italian cuisine with Fucina. Located in trendy Mayfair, the restaurant feels like a big breath of air, caught in bricks and mortar.
Moments from Regent's Park in Marylebone, Fucina is a cavernous, eye-catching space, that could pass as an art gallery rather than an Italian eatery. Using simple, industrial materials, the venue is beautifully crafted; the exposed brick ceiling undulates in great sags to replicate the domes of a pizza oven. Light from the floor-to-ceiling windows bounces off the white walls, and turquoise blue seating and sink-ably soft arm chairs keep the space welcoming.
Food and Drink
Fucina’s menu is a homely list of Italian staples made using organic ingredients where possible. During the evening, this means everyone’s favourites such as truffle-topped pizza and meaty lasagne. For brunch, however, the food is a fusion of British big and beefy plates combined with the Continent’s love of a sweet breakfast. Divided into pastries, mains and lighter dishes, brunch can be a tasting menu of stuffing proportions or a choice of just one.
Starting with a sweet, we ordered two bomboloni (£2.50 each); fluffy doughnuts that oozed with endless jam and chocolate sauce one bitten into. Italian-French toast (£8) was sweet enough to make your dentist weep, but worth the dentures as a slab of sourdough was toasted and topped with a sharp lemon sorbet that zinged against the fruity peach chunks. If you’re feeling completely wrecked, Fucina’s ‘Plate’ section will salvage your Saturday morning with meaty, cheesy dishes that could double up as lunch. My dish of Italian sausages (£12) was a hit of flavours as two herby sausages were softened with a thick wedge of mozzarella, and a tang of figs and sweet honey.
It takes a brave person to open an Italian restaurant, especially someone who is not Italian but Kurt Zdesar is no ordinary man. I don’t need my sixth brunch sense to tell you that Fucina was always going to be a hit; the food is delicious and filling enough to keep you for hours, while the design is beautiful enough to hold you all day.