<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
12 ISSUES FOR £24 Subscribe to Kent Life today click here

Restaurant review: La Cantina di Tenterden

PUBLISHED: 09:47 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 07 March 2017

La Cantina is a popular addition to Tenterden's high street

La Cantina is a popular addition to Tenterden's high street

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Transport yourself back to that glorious summer holiday as you taste the sunshine and flavours of Italy in every lovingly prepared mouthful at La Cantina di Tenterden.

Food at La Cantina di Tenterden Food at La Cantina di Tenterden

The phrase ‘cooked with love’ has become a tad clichéd, but just try the home-made pasta at La Cantina di Tenterden and I defy you not to taste the care and passion with which it has been prepared.

This tiny little restaurant arrived on Tenterden’s glorious high street last July and has steadily built up a loyal clientele of discerning diners who flock here for a true taste of Italy, which between them owner and wine buyer Stefania Mignemi and her head chef Maria Dellisanti deliver up with style and grace.

The former Grade II listed paint shop attracted the attention of the two friends when they visited Tenterden’s Christmas market a couple of Decembers ago and fell in love with the ‘Jewel of the Weald.’

Stefania, a businesswoman and busy mum, sold up her former restaurant in Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells and poured everything into La Cantina di Tenterden – named after the Italian for local wineshop, where you can not only buy excellent wines but also sample delicious food.

You can choose from the short menu inspired by seasonal products with a special focus on cured meats and cheeses and ultra-fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Or do as we did and place yourself in the hands of Maria and Stefania and wait for plate after plate of deliciousness to be served up (by Maria’s lovely daughter Martina) – accompanied by a perfectly paired glass of wine.

I can’t recommend this approach highly enough, especially as it introduced us both to wines that we had never come across before – hardly surprising, as Stefania personally selects each wine from small, independent, largely organic producers in her home country, many of whom have become firm, trusted friends over the years.

Thus we were treated to a rich and intense golden Chardonnay (Toscana La Pietra 2013) with a simple but wonderful appetiser of sun-dried tomatoes and grilled aubergines served with warm wholemeal bread, which we drizzled with officially the Best Olive Oil Ever (Tamia is not cheap at just under £20, but worth every penny and the good news is that you can buy the oil as well as other produce and wine from La Cantina’s small in-house deli).

Stefania must have sensed that my favourite way to eat is lots of little plates so I was in heaven when next up was a trio of starters – artichokes simply shredded on a bed of tangy rocket; an octopus and potato salad with the satisfying crunch of celery and onion, and a sublime, piping hot Parmesan soufflé with a cherry tomato coulis.

Much as I loved the white wine, I simply fell in love with our next glass of plummy, cherry-ripe Negroamaro from Puglia – perfect with Maria’s next treat of spinach and buttery ravioli with a delicate sage sauce.

Maria Dellisanti, head chef Maria Dellisanti, head chef

This was followed by her star turn of spaghetti with tiny clams, tomatoes and bottarga, an Italian delicacy new to me of salted, cured fish roe. The sea-fresh tang and the perfectly executed pasta were a heady combination that a powerful red best matched.

A cheeky mandarin sorbet with Prosecco and Vodka (try it – just amazing) prepared our tastebuds for a sweet onslaught of cappuccino semi-freddo and a divine chocolate mousse with a sprinkle of Amaretti biscuits. Impossible to choose which was tastiest, so we shared to the last lick.

Seating just 25-27, at surprisingly comfy acrylic chairs around square, hand-made tables each bearing the name of a different Italian wine (ours was Refosco), this is a stylishly rustic restaurant (beamed ceiling, wooden floor, a regularly changing display of local art on the white walls) that wears its heart on its sleeve and is a must for all lovers of true Italian cuisine.

And excellent news for you lucky locals, next on the horizon is a new outlet offering a takeaway service for Maria’s hand-made pizzas. Watch this space!

The essentials

Where: La Cantina di Tenterden, 25 High Street, Tenterden TN30 6BJ, 01580764045 or info@lacantinaditenterden.co.uk

What: Intimate Italian restaurant

When: 11.30am-10.30pm

How much: stinco di Maiale al vino bianco £15.75 (braised pork shank in with wine served with potatoes); ravioli di ricotta e spinaci, £16.95 (hand-made ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in butter and sage sauce)

Meet the chef

Maria Dellisanti, head chef, La Cantina di Tenterden

Tell us a bit about you

I was born in Italy, in Gioiosa Marea on the Saracen coast, between the perfume of the citrus and the sea breeze. I lived in Messina most of my life, it’s where I met my husband Pippo. We have two lovely daughters Martina and Irene and a cocker spaniel called Grace.

I became a chef in 1991 and soon started specialising in banqueting and private parties. I also worked at a number of prestigious Sicilian restaurants.

A year ago I arrived in the UK and worked with Stefania, my business partner, in her previous restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. However, when we went to see the Christmas market in Tenterden last December we fell in love with this little town and decided to open our restaurant La Cantina here.

I miss my home town a lot, but I try to bring a bit of our lovely sun and wonderful perfumes through the food I prepare every day with love for my customers.

Your principal suppliers?

The meat is from E.C Wilkes & Sons in Cranbrook, the fish from Hartley Farm in Cranbrook and the vegetable come from a local farm in Benenden. Our wines as directly imported from Italy.

What’s your signature dish?

I love to do a swordfish pie, we called impanata di pesce spada, an ancient recipe with Arabian origins, a salted and sweet dish .made with a delicate pastry stuffed with swordfish and a mix of celery, capers, onions and olives in tomato sauce.

Top cookery tip?

Don’t be scared! Start your cooking experience with love and patience. You must buy good-quality raw materials – touch, smell, look at and feel it.

Who has influenced you most?

My mother and my grandmother, both are also chefs. I learnt from them the basics of the kitchen but more importantly in my opinion, our traditions and our special Italian happiness achieved through hospitality.

Breakfast this morning?

Nutella and bread, espresso and a glass of water

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Kent Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Kent Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Kent Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Yesterday, 10:14

No Sunday is complete without a roast dinner, and in the glorious county of Kent you’ll be spoilt for choice with fantastic places to go. We pick 15 great places where you can indulge in a roast with all the trimmings, complete with a glass of wine or pint of beer in hand

Read more
Mon, 15:05

The chef-patron of award-winning restaurant Chapter One on his favourite family meal of the week – roast beef

Read more
July 2017

If you like your pubs earthy, full of character and on the eccentric side, then The Woolpack is for you

Read more
July 2017
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The chef-patron of award-winning restaurant Chapter One takes the fear out of smoking meats and fish

Read more
June 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nothing beats a burger to curb those hunger pangs! We pick some of the best spots to enjoy a burger in Canterbury

Read more
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From the classic battered cod and chips to vegan ‘fish’ and deep fried gherkins, everybody loves a good fish and chip shop. We have picked 10 of the best places for fish and chips by the sea in Kent

Read more

Prepare to step away from the ordinary at this new addition to Tunbridge Wells’ fine dining scene, where The Warren’s talented chefs literally get the most from each animal

Read more
June 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017

During the warmer months, there’s nothing better than drinks and some good food taken al fresco. We have picked 12 of the best restaurants in Kent with outdoor seating to do just that

Read more
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Simon Cannell on supplying the athlete’s village at the London 2012 Olympics, launching Baker’s Bicycle and his new scone-cum-brioche

Read more
June 2017

Family run restaurant and hotel Dunkerley’s is celebrating its 30th anniversary this June, and the magic is still there

Read more
June 2017

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad
Kent Life Application Link


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Kent's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search