As with most areas of life, trends come and go in the food industry. Different styles of cooking and presentation spring up around us constantly but I think my favourite is street food. It’s quite exciting walking up to steaming counters and creating a unique feast out of all sorts of fresh ingredients. Eatalio is one of those places, stating their mission for ‘delicious food served with passion and pride.’ And they deliver on exactly that.
Walking in to the restaurant it’s apparent that as much thought had gone into the décor of the place as their clean, simple menu. A newspaper-covered wall boasts contemporary artwork, while another is left as bare brick. Both sit nicely with the woods and metals running throughout, meshing modern and rustic with a perfect Italian twist.
Amin, one of the managers, greets us as we enter with a charming and friendly smile making us feel welcome immediately. Approaching the counter, my colleague and I direct our attention to the menu hanging on the wall and looked up to a good selection. Another manager, Abiola, introduces himself warmly and explains the process of choosing the perfect street food meal. First off we are to Choose From The Stone, which we think sounds quite impressive. We both like a bit of everything so go for all three options: pasta bowl (gluten free pasta also available), piada flatbread and a salad bowl. Next up we’re instructed to Choose From The Grill where we’re told each component is fresh and sourced locally for the best taste. The cost of any combination is based solely on the meat or vegetable options, additional grill items at £1.75 apiece, all under £7 making for an affordable and healthy lunch. We then arrive at the Choose Your Toppings section and give the various grill items a kick with a range of hot and cold sauces.
Our soft fresh fusilli pasta, cooked in front of us, hosts the spicy Italian sausage (£6.70). With a nice fiery taste to it, the meat is soft and marries the spices and herbs impeccably. We add olives, Parmesan, pomodoro sauce and a little bit of sun-dried tomato pesto for good measure. These ingredients blend together with heat and the sauces balance really well. Our piada was our veggie option. We felt drawn to the grilled seasonal vegetables option (£5.95), as it sounded pretty warming on this particular January afternoon. Packed full of all kinds of peppers, mozzarella and some divine courgettes, we add diavolo hot sauce comprised of tomatoes, cream and chilli. The flatbread itself isn’t too heavy but supports its filling, which is always a good sign – especially if you’re on the go. If that wasn’t quite enough, we share a salad with crispy chicken fillet pieces (£6.70) just to cover all bases. The salad is light and complemented well by yet more sun-dried tomato pesto (it tastes amazing and lifts any dish), with a dollop of flavoursome salsa and some feta. The cheese infuses with the Italian flavours of the salad and makes for a delectable healthier option. We also add some sweet potato bits with rosemary and they make this bowl a bit more warming for our wintery afternoon.
We wash our feast of a lunch down with authentic Italian Santal juices (£1.99); I go for the cloudy apple and my dining partner picks the orange. Just like everything we’ve tasted so far, the flavours are rich and hit the spot. Beers, Small Batch coffees and other soft drinks are also available. As we gradually slow down our gorge on Eatalio’s finest produce, Abiola comes with a special delivery in the form of the new but immensely popular sorrentina. In essence a pizza roll, dough twisted up with tomato sauce and mozzarella, it is the finishing touch to our Italian spread. Added to the menu by customer demand, these gorgeous treats are only £1.49 and are the perfect nod to one of Italy’s finest creations. Personally I particularly enjoy these as they’re more a fun side plate rather than the centre focus, giving this establishment a more unique edge with their cuisine.
From the moment you step inside Eatalio you’re welcomed in as if you’re family returning home for a meal. Staff chat away to customers, introducing themselves and joking around while remaining professional and delivering fantastic service. Knowledgeable about the food they’re preparing, they keep the restaurant floor clear and make sure their customers are happy. As we sit in the window seats looking out on to Queens Road we happily people watch as we let our food settle while Stevie Wonder plays gently in the background.
Eatalio, 128 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3WB