For steak night with a side of theatre, Union Street’s latest offering comes in the form of a butchers-cum-steak-house that’s sure to excite. From sizzling T-bone steaks to premium aged beef prepped tableside, this is one meaty Italian eatery that doesn’t mess around. With Macellaio RC already receiving rave reviews, we had to try it for ourselves...
The concept… If you were wondering about the name, ‘Macellaio’ means ‘butcher’ in Italian, so it comes as no surprise that they serve up a lot of beef. But what does come as a surprise is the tuna selection. Macellaio specialises in beef and tuna – and odd mix to most, but their intriguing menu is built on the foundation that tuna are the cows of the sea (both red-blooded and both big on flavour). The result is a heady, curious mix of the two. An unusual take on the classic surf and turf, but we guarantee the flavours work, and after the first bite, you’ll be left wanting more.
The setting… Unlike its Exmouth Market branch – which is an intimate, bustling space with quaint, Victorian-style tiles and rustic wooden tables – Macellaio Union Street has a much more industrial vibe. Upstairs, exposed brickwork and stainless steel lighting offset the tiled arched roof, whilst downstairs, two large banquet tables with mismatched chairs are placed in the middle of the dining space. Beef is dry-aged and hung dramatically behind panes of glass, with a stage placed in between the tables, where the team showcase the best cuts of the day.
A neon-lit butchery station takes centre stage at the back of the restaurant, where you’ll get the chance to watch chefs and butchers prepare steaks, carpaccio, tartare and cured meats.
What to eat… The cuts of meat and fish are out of this world, and waiters are adept at bringing a bit of theatre to your evening as plates of sliced beef and tuna carpaccio are presented from a suspended wire. The melt-in-the-mouth tuna tartare is served tagliata style with rocket and parmesan, and the Battuta (bavette of beef tartare) comes the Italian way, with decent sized pieces of beef, a little olive oil, salt and pepper, finished with splashes of balsamic vinegar and crowned at the table in dramatic fashion as gorgonzola is melted on top with a blowtorch.
The steak… Whilst there are plenty of other Italian dishes to choose from – the hams, homemade pasta, bread and pizzas from the Ligurian bakery upstairs are well worth a try — the main event at Macellaio is undeniably steak. The restaurant’s speciality is Fassone beef from Piedmont. A rogue gene that exists only in this unique breed of cattle gives it a condition called ‘double-muscling’, which means it’s incredibly low in fat and cholesterol but high in healthy fatty acids for a deep, sumptuous flavour.
The rib-eye, presented on a silver platter, comes the right side of pink, depending on your preference, and needs little in the way of sauce. The Tuscan olive oil and salt, paired with the natural chargrilled flavours of the beef are ample enough and give the steak a distinctive, rich meatiness that you wouldn’t want to mask. We promise you won’t leave hungry – these are big portions to share.
What to drink… The Negronis are to die for. Start with a cocktail then move onto to one of their gutsy Italian reds.
Who goes… Meat lovers. It may be obvious, but Macellaio is no place for vegetarians.
We’ll go back for… The dessert cart. We didn’t have room for another course, but we spotted a Tiramisu and a chocolate cake that we can’t wait to head back to try.
Arch 24, 229 Union Street, Southwark SE1 0LR