What: A relaxed (sort of) Italian restaurant in Bristol on the former site of much loved wine bar and bistro Bar Buvette. Marmo takes its name from the Italian word for marble and is inspired by ‘early northern Italian methods of food preservation in marble basins’. The food is far less esoteric than that tag suggests and is probably best described as modern British meets Italian.
Who: Cosmo and Lily Sterck. The couple met eight years ago while studying at the University of Bristol. After graduating, Cosmo worked at some of London’s best restaurants including St John and Brawn and was most recently head chef at Rubedo in Stoke Newington. Lily became a lawyer but recently followed her husband into hospitality working front of house at Luca and Six Portland Road. She returned to Bristol a few years ago to manage Bar Buvette, which led to the pair taking on the site.
The vibe: The attractive high-ceilinged space has been lightened up a little - the wooden panelling is now cream rather than green - and stylish-looking wine posters now hang on the whitewashed walls. The dark wood bistro-style tables have been retained and the configuration of the space is just as it was before with a bar that runs into a tiny kitchen on the far side of the space.
The food: With such a small back of house area the menu is necessarily brief: a few picky bits to start, three starters, four mains and three desserts. The selection changes regularly, but on our visit included fried pig’s cheek, ‘nduja and radishes; mussels leeks and bottarga; gnocchi and venison ragu; lemon sole, samphire and brown shrimp; and pear crumble and milk ice cream. Cosmo’s cooking is unshowy yet accurate and based on high quality ingredients that are largely sourced from the South West. Prices are reasonable with all starters south of £10 and mains averaging out at about £16. Marmo’s weekday lunch menu is - sensibly considering how tough the city can be mid week - is priced even more competitively with one, two and three courses priced at £10, £14 and £17 respectively.
The drinks: Marmo’s wine program is similar to Bar Buvette’s with a focus on natural wine, or to quote the restaurant ‘European producers who farm their vineyards organically or biodynamically, and use minimal or no chemical intervention in the winery’.
And another thing: Despite a few high profile closures over the last few years Bristol’s restaurant scene continues to punch well above its weight. The city now has five Michelin stars if you include Chew Magna’s The Pony & Trap (which most people do) and an equally impressive line-up of more casual places, including the recently opened littlefrench, Jing Xu and Bianchi’s.