Marcella restaurant review: Marcella Deptford is the sibling of the excellent Artusi in Peckham Rye, situated on the Bellenden Road.
Due to the gentrification of the wider Peckham area since 2013, Artusi was well-placed to take advantage of what opportunistic estate agents rebranded as ‘Bellenden Village’ and the shopfronts, cafés and restaurants evolved to match. Its once-Clapham dwelling clientele, vintage emporiums and ‘Home Counties supplied’ butcher shops also attest to this reimagining of a once edgy area.
Amusingly the Daily Mail used an image of the Bellenden Road to illustrate a piece on Peckham gang crime, although as any long-term local knows, the biggest crime to befall the Bellenden Road was when the excellent dim sum specialist Lovely House stopped being a BYO booze joint.
So, heading eastwards and moving our sights to Deptford, a borough lower down on the barrel of the gentrification wave, we find ourselves visiting Marcella, which in the same vein as Artusi, is another un-fussy, stylish eatery focused on simple, quality food, cooked exceptionally well.
Have they made the jump to Deptford too soon? Well, the restaurant is at capacity on a school night and subtle eavesdropping gleans that many of the people around us have travelled from other parts of London and even from out of town to sample its cooking. Will they be able to sustain this volume of clientele from the local surrounds? Yes, probably, Deptford is now on the ‘fashionable’ and ‘edgy’ lists and is very well connected in terms of transport. With the pace of change in such areas theses day, I think they may have timed their opening in Deptford just right. This, plus their commitment to quality cooking, means they will surely garner many fans along the way.
The interior’s tones are muted and clean, the seating comfortable, if slightly squeezed, although not so much as to be irritating. The environment is pared-back with simple bar and window seating upstairs and a dedicated, well stocked bar area downstairs, and with closing times of 12pm weeknights and 1am Fridays and Saturdays, it’s clear they are looking to cater to the out-out crowd – something which their excellent cocktails and small plates menu are more than capable of doing.
The staff were excellent – cheery, knowledgeable and on hand just when you needed them.
The food is genuinely good here, it’s just the kind I like, a simple yet hearty selection of un-fussy dishes catering to most tastes. Any of the pasta dishes are a must-have, with succulent options of girolle mushroom tagliatelle, squid bucatini and a simple pomodoro. The fried artichokes with aioli were an interesting starter, a mixture of great texture and flavour, but certainly more of an amuse bouche than anything to get the appetite really racing, but take your time and order a selection of dishes to share is the advice.
The highlight of the meal for me came from the large plates menu, which featured a show-stopping smoked Swaledale lamb, parsley root, turnips & spinach dish which I forced my self to slow down when eating, in order to savour every last rich, cloying mouthful.
Marcella is well-worth a visit for its simple, well-priced and delicious food, combined with a lively, but not pretentious, atmosphere – a shining star in an up-and-coming area.
165A Deptford High St
Tel: 020 3903 6561