For 15 weeks I dreamt of a piping hot plate of top-notch cooking served to me in a restaurant of my choice. The coronavirus outbreak had plunged me into a world of home-cooked food made by my mum that, although being delicious just was not the same. 

Perspex screens, fresh pasta and social distancing – a recipe for a post-lockdown dining experience.

A favoured pastime for thousands of self-proclaimed foodies is going out to eat. As one of those foodies, for 15 weeks I dreamt of a piping hot plate of top-notch cooking served to me in a restaurant of my choice. The coronavirus outbreak plunged me into a world of home-cooked food made by my mum. Although being delicious, it just wasn’t the same.

The openings

Boris Johnson had answered by prayers and on what was known as “Super Saturday” 4th July, restaurants, bars and pubs were allowed to open their doors to their more-than desperate punters. Originally, I did not want to be part of the swarms of people flocking to drink in Soho but the thought of fresh, quality restaurant food was just too tempting. 

For the first time in over three and a half months, I donned my best attire, did my hair and makeup and set out to find a restaurant worthy of losing my quarantine virginity to. Walking down Portobello Road, there were scores of bustling bars and eateries, all too crowded for my liking. As excited as I was to dine out, my safety and that of others was my main priority so any busy restaurant was steered well clear of.

Photo: Olivia Preston

Finding the perfect place

Despite the official relaxation of the lockdown, many places has their shutters firmly down and doors closed so it wasn’t until I reached Notting Hill Gate that I saw De Amicis, a quaint, independent Italian restaurant. I was immediately sold.

The rich and authentic Italian decor paired with social distancing and sanitising station made this nerve-wracking of times (the first time being in such close proximity to others in months) less stressful. My flatmate Jonny and I were greeted by one of the two masked front-of-house staff who showed us swiftly to our perspex-walled table. It had more than enough room to make us feel comfortable and not like caged rabbits. De Amicis was slowly filling up, the majority of customers being couples making the most of Super Saturday.

 

Seating restrictions

Safe dining

Stickers, posters and a shared awareness of the potential of infection were all around De Amicis, creating a safe environment for both the customers and servers to be in. Customers were asked to fill out a form or send an email stating their name and date they came to dine in, all in the hope that if a problem arose – contact tracing could be easily executed.

Restaurant regulations

I cannot help but choose pizza whenever I dine at Italian places so I picked the Americana (tomato, cheese and large pepperoni), which did not disappoint.

The salty meat and cheese combination satisfied just what I’d been craving for the last few months. Jonny, being the pasta-lover that he is, had the tagliatelle al tartufo (tagliatelle with cream, mushroom sauce, and truffle oil). “It was really what I’d been waiting for, gorgeous!” Jonny told me.

With our meal there was a glass of white wine for Jonny and two lemonades for me. Also, we couldn’t walk all the way to De Amicis and not have a dessert. So, being the chocolate addicts we are, there was only one pudding for us: chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. It’s safe to say that we demolished our plates!

Reflections

Jonny said he felt confident and safe, especially after seeing the staff clean up and change everything on the table after each customer, and so did I. I think after having such a relaxed and comfortable time at De Amicis, I don’t feel as anxious to go out to eat, drink and socialise as at De Amicis were so professional and conscious, without being excessive. I would recommend this restaurant as a great way to reintroduce yourself to the new socially distanced normal way of life.