Hai Cenato is a restaurant, bar and deli in the NYC-Italian style by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. Hai Cenato in Italian means ‘have you had dinner?’ A visit to this banging new restaurant in fashionable Nova Victoria and you can be assured you will want to have more dinners here!
On a glorious hot spring day, we found ourselves in Sir Simon Milton Square, seated alfresco and exploring the carbolicious delights Hai Cenato had to offer. Our arrival was delayed due to train problems; however, the staff immediately put us at ease and asked not to apologise for our lateness, saying “we are Italians, we are always late“! Such is the friendly, relaxed and laid-back vibe of this place.
The menu is comprised of small plates, grills, pasta and pizzas. I was in a company of four so it was a perfect opportunity to try out a bit from every section. All their pizzas are sourdough and baked fresh on the premises.
We kicked off with a sharing plate of meats, bread and olives. It was a perfect accompaniment to our chilled bottle of Prosecco while we basked in the warmth of the sun.
The pizzas are split into two sections: Pizza Rossa (with tomato sauce) and Pizza Bianca (mozzarella based). The portions are sizeable and could easily be shared by two or chowed down by one very hungry person.
For our mains, one of us opted for the Guest Chef Pizza of the Month. In April, it is Peter Sanchez Iglesias of restaurant Casamia in Bristol. His signature pizza was the ‘Carbonara’: Ricotta Mozzarella, Coppa di Parma, Black Pepper and Cacklebean egg yolk.(£14.50). It was a cleverly deconstructed version of a classic carbonara in pizza form.
Mr. K ordered the Homemade Fennel Sausage, Prosciutto, Stracciatella and Marjoram Gremolata (£12.5). The base was perfectly cooked – not overly chewy, crispy but not crumbly, crunchy-edged but not overdone. The meat had lovely smoky flavours, flecked with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic and parsley) and gooey stracciatella.
I must confess – I am not the biggest fan of pizza, so I ordered the Campanelle, Cockles & Clams, Chilli and Garlic, with lemon and sourdough (£15) from the pasta section . It was a comforting, yet light plate of pasta, perfect for summer eating. The breadcrumbs added a beautiful crunch to the soft pasta. The clams and cockles came de-shelled which meant no messy hands to worry about it! Personally, I would have preferred it slightly more moist but overall it was a very sophisticated plate of food.
But perhaps top marks will go to this gastronomic wonder from the Pizza Bianca section – Confit Lamb Neck, Spiced Aubergine, Ras el Hanout, yoghurt and mint. It was bold, gutsy and fragrant with all the North African spices, and I was slightly jealous that I didn’t order it myself. At £12, it was also the most reasonably priced.
Staff were jolly and affable, very attentive and knowledgable.
Hai Cenato have a fine selection of wines and aperitifs, although they do not come cheap. Our whole meal came to be £46 per head (including drinks and service) so spend wisely. I would say their pizzas are superlative and would happily come back here for just that alongside a glass of crisp white wine or fizz!
More information can be found here.
N.B. All opinions and viewpoints expressed in this blogpost are solely my own. The photographs used have been taken by me and my partner (credited wherever applicable). I review anonymously and pay for my meals.