“ I can certainly see how Colosseo has forged such a great reputation in a short amount of time. The food here is outstanding, with warm welcoming personal service and attention to detail that sets them apart.”
Since moving to Poets Corner a few years ago my wife and I have had a lovely time experiencing all that West Hove has to offer. There are many hidden gems in the area which we may not have discovered if we had not moved here, and I would wholeheartedly recommend venturing out this way to anyone tends to stick to the restaurants in the centre of town.
One such gem that is an absolute must visit is family run traditional Italian restaurant Colosseo. Nestled as far West as you can get in Hove on Boundary Road, so named because it marks the course of the parish boundary between Portslade and Hove. Husband and wife team Billi and Elona took on the restaurant just three weeks before the first lockdown happened. Not letting this hurdle get the better of them, with hard work and determination the restaurant has since gone from strength to strength winning “best Italian restaurant” at last years Sussex food and drinks award ceremony, and coming in the top three European restaurants! Not bad for an independent family eatery on the outskirts of the city. We had dinner at Colosseo this week hoping to unravel the secrets of Billi and Elona’s success.
Arriving on a wet and miserable Monday evening entranced by the warm and inviting glow emanating from windows of this beautiful little space. We were expecting the restaurant to be completely empty, having passed by a number of establishments that were either closed, or lacking in custom, Not the case with Colosseo however. This rustic cosy restaurant was buzzing and full of happy content diners conversing over some delicious looking plates of food. Tantalising scents of hot cheese, garlic and oregano wafting from the kitchen, and Billi seemingly having the time of his life going from table to table smiling and chatting to his customers as he serves up the delights cooked up by head chef Alberto, assisted by Elona in the kitchen. Billi warmly welcomes us as soon as we walk through the door and wastes no time ushering us to our table and making sure we are comfortable.
The mouth watering menu is nicely designed and consisted of starters and appetizers, mains of pizzas pastas and risotto’s as well as a range of chicken and fillet steak options, a selection of sides, and some tantalising seafood specials. Everything on the menu is home-made on site including the pasta and sauces, with locally sourced ingredients from local businesses such as the cheese and fishmongers at Hove Lagoon and a farm in nearby Steyning. The drinks menu is impressive, with a lovely select wine and champagne list, as well as a nice selection of soft drinks, draft and bottled beers and spirits. We choose a lovely crisp and vibrant Pinot Grigio and take in the lovely atmosphere, whilst watching Billi charm his patrons as he busily glides amongst the tables before returning to us to take our order, where he boasts about their fillet steak which he claims is the “best you will ever have.” Of course I could not resist testing such a bold statement.
We start the proceedings with antipasti of Salmone E Gamberretti and Proscuitto & Burratina. Both dishes an absolute delight, my cheese and ham consists of gorgeous freshly and thinly sliced proscuitto, and a decadent creamy dollop of cheese, akin to mozzarella but way creamier, on a bed of peppery salad. The saltiness of the ham and mild milky taste of the cheese seemed to compliment each other nicely and the freshness of the ingredients was certainly evident throughout. Simple flavours working in harmony, absolutely delicious. My wife’s seafood starter was exceptionally well presented with a vibrant pallet of colours from juicy slices of lemon and orange, and incredibly tasty to boot. Both plates of food came in incredibly generous portion sizes that you may imagine being served at a big traditional Italian family meal.
Many chefs say the secret to a nice and juicy steak is getting the perfect sear on the outside, and one unique way to achieve that sear is on a screaming hot rock. This is exactly how it is done at Colosseo. The giant hunk of the very finest cut of meat a local grass-fed cow has to offer is served blue, delicately seasoned, on a hot marble slate to slice and cook yourself to your liking. I am not ashamed to say I let out a gasp when this absolute beauty appeared in front of me and once again when my knife effortlessly slid through the meat, and oh my god the flavour was unreal. Billi wasn’t kidding, this really was the best steak I have ever had or could ever imagine being topped! Served with a crisp juicy salad, a choice of sauces and perfectly cooked chips. An absolute wonder and I feel blessed to have tried it.
My wife plumped for “Fettuccini al Funghi Porcini” freshly made pasta in a gorgeous rich creamy sauce scattered with thinly sliced porcini mushrooms and topped with crispy onions. There is nothing quite like the taste of freshly made pasta, especially when drenched in a lovely home made sauce that although flush in flavour, still allowed the essence of the pasta to shine.
Now barely able to move, we felt it may be a little greedy to have pudding too, though we could not resist the traditional home-made desserts when they were offered up. We were sent to dessert heaven with the finest tiramisu and banoffee pie we have ever tasted. Both decadently creamy and whipped to an absolute frenzy, so light and fluffy they almost could have floated right off the plate into our mouths. Absolutely delightful and a perfect end to a perfect meal.
To summarise, I can certainly see how Colosseo has forged such a great reputation in a short amount of time. The food here is outstanding, the warm welcoming personal service we received and attention to detail really sets them apart. The traditional Italian food is incredibly well executed, their signature stone-cooked fillet steak is a must try! All of their produce is locally sourced from Sussex suppliers, and the high quality of the ingredients really is apparent in all their dishes. This was an experience we will not forget. Billi is the consummate host and nothing is too much trouble for him, we had what can only be described as a perfect evening and will definitely visit time and time again.