Pukka tukka at Jamie’s Italian

The meat plank at Jamie's Italian
The meat plank at Jamie's Italian

NAKED Chef, mockney mucker, health food campaigner and Sainsbury’s saviour – Jamie Oliver has had many faces during his varied career.

But the busy family man - Jamie has somehow managed to squeeze a wife and four kids into his schedule - never strays far from the world of food.

And his love for cooking is clear from the attention to deal found at Jamie’s Kitchen.

The chain was first launched in Oxford in 2008 and found its way to thecentre:mk at the back end of last year.

From the outside the restaurant looks a little dark, but that’s mainly due to the shelves of Jamie’s books and merchandise that crowd the entrance.

Inside it is smartly laid out over two floors with diners given a full view of their chefs in the kitchen – perfect for food voyeurs.

There are 11 of them at work when we visit, all beavering away to make sure the ingredients are freshly made.

The ethos of Jamie’s Italian is to serve up rustic Italian food using simple ingredients, and creating a relaxing, sharing foodie environment.

To do that the waiters and waitresses are experts on every item on the menu, explaining each dishes nuances with a breathless enthusiasm that even Jamie would be proud of – and the food isn’t half bad either.

I started with the Meat Antipasti Plank (£6.85), a fantastic mix of cured meats, Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto and schiacciata piccante. Add to that Buffalo mozzarella, pecorino with chilli jam, pickles, green chillies, green olives, Gaeta olives and caper berries, with a crunchy salad to cleanse the palate, and it’s no surprise I was constantly bugging my partner with ‘try this’ pleas.

All the ingredients have an Italian background I was told, expect for the green chilli which comes from Spain but Jamie just loved too much to leave out.

My partner went for a hefty looking bruschetta from the specials board, before sampling the Mini-Meatball Carbonara (£11.25).

I went for the rather more unique Wild Rabbit Tagliolini (£10.95), fresh to the Jamie’s Italian menu and slow-cooked with garlic and herbs.

All the main courses also come in a smaller – and cheaper – version perfect to have as an alternative starter.

If that isn’t enough for you there is a packed dessert menu.

We sampled the gorgeous Ji Warm Brownie (£4.95) and the opulent Italian Ice-Cream Bombe (£4.95) – the latter seemingly consisting of everything delicious they could find in the dessert section covered in the richest chocolate sauce imaginable.

Jamie’s doesn’t skimp on the drinks selection either – although you may have to dip into the plastic to cope with some of the prices. This, you get the impression, is where the real money is made.

A stacked wine list is complemented by a host of wicked looking cocktails, including Bellini, Milano and Rossini options and the thirst enducing Big Italian – Bombay Sapphire gin, Aperol, raspberry liqueur, fresh lemon juice and zingy raspberry purèe served over ice and finished with prosecco.

Beware though, these beauties can set you back anything from £5.45 to £7.50 each.

Still adhering to the post-Christmas health kick we opted to try the non-alcoholic cocktails. Refreshing names such as Citrus Cooler, Refresher and Tutti Fruiti are as enticing as they are thirst quenching, each with their own zingy kick.

With a new children’s menu available as well, Jamie’s Italian has a great offering for lovers of fresh food.

In one word – belissimo. Or should I say, pukka.

Address: Jamie’s Italian, 3-5 Silbury Arcade, Milton Keynes, MK9 3AG

Tel: 01908 769011

Opening times:

Monday to Saturday; 12noon-11pm

Sunday; 12noon-10.30pm