Jamie Oliver’s Italian. So you take a trip to Oxford and wander for a few hours around the beautiful grounds of its prestigious University. Downtown, you’ll find George street chock full of restaurants and of course Jamie Oliver’s is one of them. No choices need to be made, it’s a given that this guy’s food is bound to be good so off we went to Jamie’s Italian.
High ceilings and rustic brick walls surround a maze of “farmhouse” looking wooden tables that are, of course, packed to the max! We waited a bit for one to open and soon enough we were granted access to the upstairs area. Right away, we were seated by a friendly tie-wearing waitress who explained Oliver’s concept of focusing mainly on fresh locally grown food.
The menu was rather large featuring Italian classics but also a lot of interesting sides served in Oliver’s famous fashion: bold and inventive. For instance, as an appetizer we ordered the crispy arancini: risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella and sweet red chillies served over arrabbiata sauce and Parmesan for £4.95. Crispy on the outside and bursting with spicy flavor inside. For the main course, we had the honeycomb canelloni 3 ways: aubergine & sundried tomato, pumpkin and ricotta with spinach. Creamy fillings inside several upright pasta tubes nestled in the shape of a honeycomb with cheesy edges over a rich béchamel and tomato sauce for £10.95.
As a side, I had to try the famous polenta chips with rosemary salt and Parmesan. Large chunks of polenta crunchy on the outside yet very tender inside, absolutely delightful £3.45. On the other hand, the baked chestnut and mushrooms on “music” bread for £5.25, made with smoked mozzarella, was a little disappointing simply because the chestnuts were nowhere to be tasted. The penne carbonara was a nice surprise looking as good as it tasted. Served with crispy pancetta and wilted leeks with a lemon cream Parmesan sauce, zesty and silky for £10.75.
The wine list consisted mostly of Italian reds and whites, as well as a few Spumantis. The house wine –Jamie’s Italian wines– are made with grapes from Sicily and are delivered in eco-friendly Tetra Paks that are decanted at the time of serving. The Bianco offers a hint of peach, the Rosso a touch of plum and cherry and the Rossato traces of raspberry and strawberry. All nicely priced between £4.90 a glass and £17.95 for a bottle.
Another trademark at Oliver’s restaurants are his creative cocktails like the expresso martini, a mix of vodka, Kahlua and expresso for £7.25 or the Rossini made with prosecco and red berry purée for £6.60. For dessert, the homemade yogurt ice-cream, made with seasonal fruit, was light and refreshing for £4.90. The autumn rippled Pavlova served with cream , limoncello soaked fruit and hazelnut praline for £4.95 was way more creative and, of course, a nice end to our delicious” Oliver Twisted” meal.
Jamie’s Italian Oxford
24-26 George Street
Tel 01865 83 83 83
Hours of operation
12 noon to 11pm
12 noon to 10:30 pm