What: A second site for well-regarded Brighton Italian Cin Cin, a trendy small plates joint that specialises in handmade pasta dishes. Cin Cin Hove is just east of Palmeira Square on Western Road in an area of the city that’s becoming increasingly popular with quality indies (nearby operators include Fatto a Mano, Bison Beer Crafthouse and potty mouth Vietnamese restaurant Holy Phok).
Who: Cin Cin’s founder is Australian-born but Italian-by-blood David Toscano, a former lawyer. The business started out as a street food and pop-up outfit that traded from a vintage Fiat van and majored in Italian cured meats, cheese and prosecco. In 2016 Toscano moved the business into a former MOT garage in a central but decidedly off pitch location in the city’s North Laine area. An antidote to the chains and Brighton’s innumerable cheap and cheerful tourist-focused Italians, the 21-cover backstreet restaurant has been a hit, scoring an entry in The Good Food Guide and taking the number six spot on the Brighton’s Best restaurants list. Cin Cin’s head chef Jamie Halsall - whose CV includes The Dorchester and Launceston Place - will oversee both sites as executive chef.
The vibe: Cin Cin Hove has a similar feel to its older sibling but - as with most second sites - benefits from a bigger budget. Toscano has opted to stick with the open kitchen and counter seating setup of Cin Cin Brighton. In fact, he’s so keen to maintain the feel and operational model of his inaugural restaurant he’s only added a handful of extra covers despite the Hove site being several times larger than the original Vine Street location. However, there is a PDR to the rear that seats 12. The look of the place is simple, uncluttered and not overtly Italian.
On the menu: New pasta dishes for the Hove site include leek agnolotti, truffle potato, rosemary; sopresini, Sussex lamb ragu, smoked sheep’s ricotta; and a rather good take on spaghetti carbonara with smoked eel standing in for guanciale. The kitchen has room for a grill, which allows Halsall and his team to offer protein-based main courses for the first time. These include Sussex pork, creamy polenta, smoked king cabbage; and roasted monkfish, Jerusalem artichoke, spelt risotto and kale pesto. There is also an emphasis on fresh Italian cheeses including mozzarella, stracciatella and burrata.
And another thing: As one would expect from restaurant named after the Italian for ‘cheers!’ much attention has been paid to the drinks side of the business. The wine list is small, finely tuned and exclusively Italian with a focus on less obvious indigenous grape varieties. There is also an interesting list of apertifs made with high quality bitters and vermouths, including the bergamot-flavoured Italicus and the Regal Rogue range of vermouths, which like Toscana himself is a product of both Italy and Australia (it’s made in Oz with Australian wine and aromatics but finished by a vermouth master in Turin).