Terra Terra Review

A Terra-ific all day Italian is a welcome sight on this neglected stretch of Finchley Road

The busy stretch between Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road has long been a neglected spot for bars and restaurants.

So the opening of all-day Italian Terra Terra is a welcome sight.

Based over two floors of the newish residential block at 120 Finchley Road, this sleek, modern, minimalist outfit starts the day serving baked pastries, smoothies and espressos, and ends it cranking out excellent Bellinis and Negronis.

In between there's a whole menu's-worth to sink your teeth into, from brunch-ey eggs and sourdough, to salads, fresh pasta and pizzette.

Run by The Ghost Group, who claim St Martin's Lane and Sanderson Hotels among their portfolio, Terra Terra offers the kind of casual dining that brings you off a fume-clogged street and into a warm friendly hug.

The chichetti - Venetian bar snacks - and starters are ideal for caring and sharing; crispbreads, parmesan and rosemary fries, and arrancini with the melting cheese outside as a dip, delicious.

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Afterwards there are small plates; a cloud of creamy burrata smothered in fresh tomato and chili, a beef carpaccio with parmesan shavings, or a tuna crudo with samphire and lemon.

Our Thursday night dinner had started with a house cocktail of Martini and grapefruit bitters, and rhubarb cordial topped with prosecco. There's also a Sicilian blood orange and vermouth concoction I'm planning to go back for. Like the wine list, the cocktails are a thoroughly Italian affair - (the house red by the way is decent good value at £5.30 a glass.)

If it's carbs you are craving then try the pizzette - similar to pizza only smaller and oval. The wild mushroom and taleggio was satisfyingly punchy, but the roasted pepper one was rather underpopulated with the advertised fennel sausage.

We dug into a side of rocket dressed with olive oil and balsamic and shared a freshly made pasta with lamb ragu - the sauce had been lovingly reduced - perhaps a little too lovingly as it was on the dry side, although the pangrattato - crispy breadcrumbs flavoured with thyme and parmesan- lent a lovely crunchy textur.

An aglio olio with peperoncino and clams going out at the next table exemplified the kind of hearty Italian and Briitsh seasonal produce served up wtih skill and simplicity that's the chef's passion. We rounded off with two spoons and a vanilla panacotta with summer fruits, served like a milky creme brulee an extra soupcon of vanilla would have nailed this comfort dish.

With an open kitchen, downstairs bar, a terrace soon to open and a chef bursting with seasonal menu ideas, Terra Terra is set to become a neighbourhood regular for pitstops, long lunches and homespun Italian cocktails.

I'll drink to that.

Terra Terra 120 Finchley Rd, London NW3. terraterra.co.uk