* Update! Mediterraneo has relocated to Portland Road in Hove – heartbreaker! – but still open for dinner on weekends. Phew. It’s also still as charming – if not more so – than my original date-night hideaway. Bonus: it’s also open during the day as a cafe! Updated blog post coming soon!
Tucked at the end of a pretty residential street, close to my favourite cinema on the way in to Brighton, is the tiny authentic Sicilian restaurant called Mediterraneo Deli, one of those amazing little neighbourhood gems you hope will never shut down. I’m only ever in this part of town to visit the cinema, so every time I’m there, I always make sure it’s still in business, and to snap another picture of its intriguing façade.
Inside, you could be stepping into what you might imagine a little traditional Sicilian village restaurant, small and cosy, crammed with little tables bathed in candlelight, and shelves bursting with wine bottles and local food, but what gives Mediterraneo a personal Brighton flavour are the owner’s paintings that decorate the walls…
So as far as Brighton restaurants go, Mediterraneo is as good as it gets in terms of local restaurants. It’s one of those perfect places to come to if you want a simple date night where you can chat for hours over a bottle of delicious local wine, a family get together, a big birthday party dinner (you can hire the place all to yourself), or even a wedding reception. I’ve pretty much given this hidden gem a test run for all occasions for you…
Between the big candlesticks, low lighting, delicate tablecloths and rickety café chairs, Mediterraneo is a quirky, yet sophisticated little place created with love by its husband and wife team, Giorgio and Sonia, unlike so many of the tourist traps in this seaside town. Giorgio works the floor treating his customers as best friends, while Sonia works magic in the teeny tiny kitchen you can spy from the restaurant. They’re only open for dinner for parties less than six people on Friday and Saturday night, so I do recommend calling ahead to make a booking so you’re not disappointed.
You can just about see into the teeny tiny kitchen below…
Now that we’ve established that this is a picture-perfect little venue and not a deceiving seaside cliché, we can look at the menu and get excited. This Sicilian kitchen wants to appeal to you by serving delicious yet not heavy traditional food, the stuff they’d eat at home if it was a special occasion.
To start, he had the mini arancini balls which Giorgio tells us are the equivalent of Sicilian ‘fast street food’, while I went for the more ladylike version of grilled aubergine rolls stuffed with mozzarella, tomatoes, parma ham and rocket. So pretty and so divine!
Next, I chose the stuffed pepper, while he had the (a hearty vegetable stew of aubergines, potatoes, mozzarella and breadcrumbs). Both faultless.
To finish off, we share a Tiramisu and knock back a limoncello – rude not to. All in all with a good bottle of local wine, our bill came in at just over £30 a head which left us feeling proud we hadn’t paid our money to a chain, instead to a local restaurant created with love by two hard-working, talented owners from the community.
You have to admit this place is cute – maybe even a romantic Brighton restaurant and there aren’t many of them around. This is a true gem.
Find Mediterraneo Deli at 2A Clyde Road, Brighton BN1 4NP