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Barbaracca, Godalming GU7 1NN - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 09:32 28 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:32 28 June 2016

The new interior is bright and breezy (Photo: Eddie Judd Photography)

The new interior is bright and breezy (Photo: Eddie Judd Photography)

Eddie Judd Photography

It’s all change in Godalming, where the local independent Italian has had a remarkable change of clothing. Reviewer Matthew Williams visits to find Barbaracca bringing Sicilian-style to town in time for the summer

They're focussing on a more laid-back menu these days (Photo: Eddie Judd Photography)They're focussing on a more laid-back menu these days (Photo: Eddie Judd Photography)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2016

***

Need to know

Barbaracca

10-14 Wharf Street, Godalming GU7 1NN

Tel: 01483 414155

What we ate

Starter

Sicilian antipasto platter (for two), £14

Pasta

Orecchiette broccoli e pancetta (for two), £17.25

Main courses

Tagliata di manzo ca’ruchetta, £18.75

Parmigiana di melanzane, £11.50

Dessert

Home-made tiramisu, £5.20

Drinks

Biferno Rosso Riserva DOC 2009, Palladino, £4.75 for a 125ml glass

Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC 2013, Mandrarossa, £4.75 for a 125ml glass

***

It’s funny that when you spend most of your life in search of the new and exciting, as us magazine writers often do in a bid to find fresh paths for readers, it only takes a few short years passing for some of those places to become pure nostalgia.

Not so long ago, a quiet corner of Godalming could claim to be among my favourite dining spots in Surrey. There was the wonderful Fleurie, offering a smart take on French cuisine on one side of Wharf Street, and La Luna, a classy Italian on the other.

Both were fantastic on our visits, but I also remember conversations with them about the struggles to get people through the door. This always seemed a little strange, as Godalming is a beautiful town, surrounded by stunning villages, so you’d expect these kinds of restaurants to be the perfect draw for the local clientele – perhaps all those gorgeous country pubs that surround the place mop up the trade? Answers on a postcard, please! Either way, Fleurie closed and then came the announcement that La Luna was seemingly to follow – or, at least, that was the rumour at the time.

But no, rejoice, it was just time for a quick costume change. Where La Luna was all dark, brooding Italian cool, Barbaracca (roughly translated: bar/shed) is its bright, breezy and, well, cool coastal cousin. This place feels like a summer holiday, and is a marked change from the restaurant it replaced.

Initial reports had been good, so I was intrigued at what we’d find. They sell the experience as looking to capture the “very special atmosphere when Italian friends and family gather together to linger over a hearty meal, lovingly prepared from fresh, local ingredients.” It certainly feels like the kind of place to take the whole family to now, where previously it had more of a date-night tone.

On our visit, we arrive at lunchtime with our daughter in tow, and most of the tables are already full with families. The welcome is warm and relaxed, and you quickly forget that you’ve just walked off the street in a south-west Surrey town.

Settled in a comfy corner, we drink in the changes, not only to the décor but also to the menu, which is a far more relaxed affair relying on Sicilian-style tapas for starters. We pick a couple of glasses of wine and opt for the antipasto platter for two to start: one of our favourite ways to relax when the sun shines. The neat mix of cured meats, Sicilian cheeses, nocellara olives, artichokes marinated with pistachio, sun-dried tomatoes, caponata and various breads proves a perfectly tasty way to start our repast.

A shared bowl of pasta with broccoli and pancetta feels a touch on the pricey side for what is a reasonable but unspectacular dish, though the flavours are a tried-and-tested combination. Elsewhere, if lasagne, bolognese or vegetarian options are more your thing, there’s a choice of five other pasta dishes in that part of the menu.

As they’ve also made a point of flagging up their locally-sourced meat on the menu, I can’t resist the tagliata di manzo ca’ruchetta – Sunday lunch with a difference! Featuring delicate Surrey-farm rump steak, sliced over a bed of sun-dried tomato pesto, rocket and Parmesan with skinny fries, it’s the kind of eating that makes you consider cancelling any afternoon appointments, so you can really take your time to savour the occasion.

My wife, Sylviane, opts for the parmigiana di melanzane, a delicious lasagne-like dish melding aubergine, tomato, mozzarella, basil and Parmesan. It’s a serious serving of loveliness, that I, ever chivalrously, help to finish...

Clearly enjoying things, I just about manage to find room for a fresh slice of tiramisu cake to bring things to a fitting close.

In summary, while there may not be quite the same gastronomic fireworks and boundaries being pushed as there used to be at La Luna, what we now have in Barbaracca is a very lovely place to relax over a leisurely lunch. With the sun shining outside, it feels like a holiday escape at home.

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3 more great Italian restaurants

Carlo’s Trattoria

Shere Road, Newlands Corner, Guildford 
GU4 8SE
Tel: 01483 224180

Perched by the stunning Surrey beauty spot of Newlands Corner, near Guildford, Carlo’s Trattoria is one of those restaurants that you’ve probably seen more times than you’ve been. It’s time to change that…

A Casa

221 Portsmouth Road, Cobham KT11 1JR 
Tel: 01932 863973

Inspired by the Italian way of life, the team at A Casa say that their mission is “to bring a slice of Italy to the picturesque village of Cobham”. Judging by some of the famous footballing connections who have passed through recently, it’s doing its job!

Al Boccon Di’Vino

14 Red Lion Street, Richmond TW9 1RW 
Tel: 0208 940 9060

Certainly one of the most unusual restaurants that Surrey Life has visited over the years, and definitely the most fun, Richmond’s Al Boccon Di’Vino has rewritten the rule book when it comes to dining in Surrey. There’s no menu...

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