Bacaro, Ocean Village, Southampton

A SIMPLY stunning selection of superb sharers, this is my kind of food.

There's just so much to savour at Bacaro, an Italian tapas restaurant close to Southampton's waterfront which echoes the philosophy of the Venetian 'bacari' that delicious food, good wine and the company of friends are the recipe for a life well lived.

A fairly new addition to the city's thriving food scene, the restaurant opened its doors in April in the beautiful building which for many years housed Merchants.

When we arrived on a pleasantly warm Tuesday evening, several groups were enjoying an after work drink in the fading sunshine and the sound of laughter drifted through the air.

The relaxed feel continues inside in a dining room which is all exposed brickwork, lovely wall art and pleasant chatter.

Friendly owner Lucy and the team buzz around offering their extensive knowledge on the incredible offerings on the menu.

We started with a mixed platter of cheese and meat charcuterie. Served on a wooden board, it was a feast of flavours with everything from tasty proscuitto to creamy Gorgonzola.

After that, the amazing Chicetti (small plates) just kept coming. There were succulent king prawns cooked in garlic, chilli and lime and superb crispy squid dipped in a saffron and lemon tartare sauce.

We tried homemade pork and beef meatballs and fresh pumpkin ravioli on a bed of spinach, rocket and herb butter.

My highlights were two mouth-watering items from the specials board. The mini surf and turf was made up of perfectly cooked steak topped with meaty king prawns and the four cheese pizzette was gooey heaven for a stinky cheese lover.

A bottle of organic Pinot Grigio perfectly complimented the amazing array of delights we were served.

I have always loved the idea of sharing tapas with friends, but the result is not always as spectacular as I had hoped. Forget any misgivings about miserly offerings or standard fare here though. Bacaro is truly a gem of a eaterie right in the heart of our city.

If I founded a restaurant, this would be it. I haven't been this excited about a new opening for many, many years.


Bacaro, Ironside House, Canute Pavilion Car park, Ocean Village, Southampton SO14 3TN

Tel: 023 8033 3221