Cin Cin, a little slice of Italy in Brighton
Italy is one of the few countries I’ve visited more than once. Four times in fact, with a trip to Tuscany last year most recently. The reason I return? Always for the food… Thankfully I can now get a little slice of Italy right in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine for those breaks between trips, at Cin Cin.
Cin Cin, pronounced “chin-chin”, is one of the few authentic Italian restaurants in Brighton and it’s tucked away on a side street just off of North Road. As you walk down Vine Street, amongst the mainly residential properties, it feels like an odd place for a restaurant. But once behind the former garage door, any doubt quickly vanishes.
It’s intimate, with room for just 18 covers and the room is designed around a U-shaped bar, with the kitchen at the back but with prep space in the centre of the bar. Since opening in October last year, I’ve dined four times, each time leaving pretty dazzled by the dishes served (and a bit tipsy thanks to a superb all-Italian wine and beer list).
It’s not just the food that impresses, David the owner greets each of his customers with the perfect balance of professionalism and the familiarity of a friend. There’s just something about the man that makes you feel calm and content as soon as you walk through the door.
There’s a small and select menu but when the options are as good as these ones here, it’s not difficult to choose from. I popped in for lunch in March with a specific dish I wanted to try in mind – the rabbit croquette, which had been briefly replaced by chicken croquette. Luckily for me, it was making a reappearance the day I visited.
My guest and I both ordered this to start, as we couldn’t bear the thought of sharing. A single cylinder shaped croquette with a scoop of vibrant green pesto emulsion came straight out of the kitchen and piping hot. The outside breadcrumb was crisp without a sign of grease and the inside, packed full of tender rabbit meat covered in a thick creamy sauce. It was a melting moment of bliss and one of the best dishes I’ve had from Cin Cin.
Up next for me, the March special – ‘linguini, mussels and & nduja’. Nduja is a spicy Italian sausage that also works fantastically as a pizza topping. I’ve had chorizo with seafood soup before so I had faith in this combination working really well. I wasn’t wrong either and before I’d finished my first mouthful I was already loading up the fork for my second.
My friend ordered the pappardelle (broad ribbons of pasta) with Sussex lamb ragu topped with salted ricotta for his next course. It’s a dish I’ve also tried on a previous visit and fallen head over heals for. Slow-cooked for several hours to bring out the best flavour it was mouth-wateringly juicy and falling off the bone tender. In both dishes, as one would expect, the freshly made pasta, was cooked traditionally al dente.
PRICE: £34.50 (just food)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
From my first visit to Cin Cin, I knew I was on to a good thing and having returned several times and never been disappointed, it has quickly become one my favourite (and most recommended) restaurants in Brighton. It was no surprise to me that in February this year, Cin Cin flew into 6th place in Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards and David won‘Best Welcome’ as its offering is a cut above the rest of the Italian restaurants and the food, from Chef Jamie Halsall, superbly executed. The menu also changes seasonally meaning there’s always a reason to return and try what’s new.
13-16 Vine Street, Brighton, BN1 4AG
Have you tried Cin Cin yet or, do you have another favourite Italian restaurant in Brighton? Leave me a comment or tweet me @foodieeshe. If you liked this review please let me know by clicking the heart button below.