I grew up in the market town of Ringwood in the New Forest. It has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and even more so in the last 14 years since I moved away. It’s now definitely a wealthier and more affluent town and has lost some of it rural charm, like the agricultural and livestock market.
Probably the most positive aspect of these changes is the demographic shift towards a population with a higher proportion of disposable income which has resulted in an explosion of restaurants, wine bars and cafes of varied international cuisine.
My parents still live there and I always look forward to returning to Ringwood to see what new delight awaits by way of a new restaurant or food/wine outlet. Today was no exception! We took lunch at Lovitaly in the Market Place.
On arrival we were greeted with a traditional warm Italian welcome from the manager, Alexandra, who hails from Cantú, in Lombardy province Italy. Lovitaly, is a delicatassen where you can also have a morning snack or a full blown three course meal, served in a slightly less formal atmosphere than a restaurant.They also have a private function room upstairs.
I love to understand the origins of words and language and so when I asked Alexandra to describe the style that she was aiming for with Lovitaly she said “eaterie” which sounded like a clumsy expression for a restaurant! Then I understood that in Italian the word “eaterie” is gastronoimia and that gastronomie is Italian for delicatessen! So I now feel more educated about the linguistic origins of this word as well as the delights that Lovitaly has to offer!
Naturally, Alexandra has a passion for all things Italian which comes through in the pride that she has in sourcing all the ingredients they use and making for example all the cakes and pastries in house.
We opted for an antipasti style mix of sharing platters, called tagliere in Italian. The literal translation into English is ‘Chopping Board” and this is exactly how the mixed platters are served!With the tagliere they serve some tiny bell peppers stuffed with a savoury fish mixture of tuna, anchovy and capers, this had an amazing texture and flavour and something that I have never tasted before. It’s also probably the sort of traditional partner to the tagliere that you would find in a little lakeside cafe on the shores of Lake Como which is where Alexandra hails from and a testament to her commitment to an honesty and authenticity in the food she serves.
We opted to accompany this with some tiny deep fried meatballs called polpette and a trio of bruschetta.
We rounded off our antipasti with coffees and some of their homemade amaretti biscuits which were dense and sweet and the perfect end to lunch.
The restaurant business is highly competitive and many entrepreneurs don’t make it beyond the first year, let’s hope that this little piece of Lombardy is around for a lot longer!