t Amico Bio, a Taste of Italy at the Restaurant that Champions Organic Produce Straight from the Farm - Ethical Hedonist

Amico Bio, a Taste of Italy at the Restaurant that Champions Organic Produce Straight from the Farm

February 15, 2013 in Archive

Review of Amico Bio (Barbican) By  Rosemin Anderson.

A starter of aubergine and courgette salad

A starter of aubergine, tofu and courgette salad

The concepts of “vegetarian” and “Italian restaurant” are not traditionally on the menu, but head chef and owner of Amico Bio, Pasquale Amico, has blended the two to create distinctly unique fare. Amico Bio uses fresh produce from his family’s organic farm in Italy, and promises a fresh, rustic approach to cooking that should appeal to those looking for simpler Italian cuisine.

The restaurant is tucked away on a quiet street near Barbican station, in an accessible location for those City workers looking for vegan or vegetarian offerings. The quirky thumbprint logo is hard to miss, though the street itself is fairly hidden away.

Dining Room Style

The rustic theme of the cuisine is carried over into the dining space, with cute, intimate tables and funky faux vegetables decorating the walls. The candles on the table don’t quite conjure enough heat to imagine that you’re sitting in Italy, but it’s a nice enough gesture. My guest and I arrive early, so unfortunately there are few occupying the restaurant to begin with, but the chatter picks up as professionals arrive after work.

The Dinner: Starters

Come on in, the organic Prosecco and wine is vibrant and delicious

Come on in, the organic Prosecco and wine is vibrant and delicious

Our server is very friendly and appears to be Italian, which I find is always helpful for creating an authentic ambiance! We’re tantalised by the menu, which admittedly is brief but looks exciting. Drinks are ordered and I’m absolutely delighted by the organic wine – my first taste of such wine, I might add – which is smooth, almost like chocolate in texture, without even a hint of acidic aftertaste. My guest, H, chooses a Prosecco and that proves to be as refreshing as I’d hope for.

Tantalising starters

Tantalising starters for two

We opt for a shared plate, as well as an individual starter each. The selection of focaccia bread arrives with olives and organic extra virgin olive oil, and is offered on a lovely wooden platter. Though the olives are delicious and the olive oil devoid of the gritty tang of cheaper types, the focaccia is a tad damp, and the bread stick that accompanies it is slightly stale.

However, the starters are redeemed by the lovely individual dishes. H’s aubergine salad is perfectly chilled and presented beautifully, allowing the simple tastes of the vegetables to flourish. My breaded tofu with mushrooms is placed in Tetris-fashion on my plate and it’s as fun to eat as it is to look at.

Main course

Seitan with mashed potato and cabbage

Seitan with mashed potato and cabbage

I’m eager to try something completely new, and after a quick description of seitan by the waiter (who really knew her stuff) I choose to have it roasted, with mashed potato and cabbage. H’s choice is Pappardelle with mushrooms, which – being the priciest option on the menu – promises delights.

Unfortunately, neither dish really lives up to expectation. Instead of the inventive pasta dish I was expecting, a fairly banal creation arrives. It is, bluntly put, simply pasta with mushrooms, and this seems a great shame given the flair for taste we had discovered during the starters. My option is a little drab as well, and the mashed potato is not the creamy concoction I was hoping for. That being said, the cabbage is delectable, which redeems the dish somewhat.

Unimaginative as the main dishes are, the cheeky side order of fried courgette chips cheers us up – so wonderfully moreish that we are loathe to leave any morsels on our plates!


Amico Bio chocolate bar pudding with????

Amico Bio chocolate bar pudding with nectarine

Still slightly disappointed by the main dishes, H and I are excited to select from the well-chosen desserts on offer. H’s rum baba is exquisite, without the heady scent of alcohol that we were expecting; instead, it is lightly flavoured and accompanied by a lovely syrup-soaked amerene cherry. My chocolate “bar”, as it is described, is dark and strong in flavour and complemented beautifully by the caramelised nectarine segments it is served with.

Overall verdict:

Rum baba, Amico Bio style.

Rum baba, Amico Bio style.

I won’t lie; I expected more of this highly-praised Italian restaurant. Amico Bio did not quite meet my expectations. However, I applaud its efforts to change the idea of Italian food from a meat focus to a more organic, plant based, healthier approach. Some aspects of the meal were lovely, and I would definitely consider having lunch at the new branch opening in Holborn, given the strength of its salads. It’s reasonably priced, and for those working close to Covent Garden and the City side of the capital, quite a welcome option for vegans and vegetarians.

Rosemin Anderson for Ethical-Hedonist.com; Edited by Alison Jane Reid.

Useful information:

Starters average price: £4.50

Mains average price: £8.50

Desserts average price: £5

Set lunch menu: £10

Average cost of three course meal with wine: £23-25

Address: Amico Bio Barbican, 44 Cloth Fair, London, EC1A 7JQ

Telephone number: 020 7600 7778

Website address: www.amicobio.co.uk

Extras: Cookery courses available with head chef/owner Pasquale Amico


Copyright Alison Jane Reid/Rosemin Anderson. All rights reserved.



about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?

2 responses to “Amico Bio, a Taste of Italy at the Restaurant that Champions Organic Produce Straight from the Farm”

  1. Alex says:

    So what is ‘seitan’ exactly? It doesn’t look particularly appetising in comparison to the rest of the meal! Good review and somewhere I think many non-vegetarians could equally appreciate; Italian cuisine can be more creative without meat in my opinion. In fact, one of my favourite pasta dishes (as a carnivore) is Penne Giardiniera: a mixture of garlic, chilli and courgette, topped with spinach balls and absolutely delicious.


    • Alison Jane Reid says:

      Hi Alex, seitan is made from wheat gluten. I agree with you, some of my most memorable Italian meals ever, have been vegetarian. You can’t beat a simple, lovingly made risotto, with the freshest courgettes from a farmers’ market, or a selection of aromatic wild morels and porcini. Or simple roasted vegetables with feta, followed by a perfumed, roasted white peach. Sadly, on this occasion, the proof was in the eating, and the seitan didn’t leave Rosemin wanting more. Alison Jane

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