The restaurant occupies part of a modern residential and retail building. But the site’s iconic foody history is remembered by the building’s name – Vimto Gardens – the site of the drink’s production and warehousing factory between 1910 and 1927. It seems fitting that Vero Moderno – they translate it as “True and Modern” – is here as that represents the cuisine very well. This is not your bog standard Anglicised Italian gaff, with its menu that runs for pages. Here they’ve taken some classics and stayed true to their essence but have put an up to date spin to some of them - if you can have Modern British food, then here’s Modern Italian. A shortish menu – a handful of starters, a handful of meat and fish mains, a dozen pasta dishes, maybe the same pizzas. It’s the sort of menu that you might come across in a restaurant in a small Italian town – and I can’t give better praise than that.
Inside, they’ve done a good job. There’s a modern bar area and a more rustic feel to the dining area with big wooden tables, made of planks – we were shown to one that would happily seat six but they set it for us as a two-top.
There was an absolute delight of an aubergine starter – slices breaded and fried and served up with a tomato sauce with basil hitting high notes and mozzarella melting over it all. The other starter offered a selection of “mini calzone”. I had in my mind that these would be dainty affairs, along the lines of a samosa. But, oh no, these are big butch jobs, more like small Cornish pasties. One is smoked cheese and wild broccoli (friarelli). Another tomato and mozzarella – presumably the same tomato and basil sauce as the other dish – and it really is fab here. And a final one of ham and mushroom. The dough is crisp, everything is perfectly seasoned. If you’re to manage this and a main course, you really need to bring your appetite with you, as main courses are also very substantial.
There was a very generous portion of gnocchi, perfectly light and dressed with nuggets of sausage and the wild broccoli. Perhaps a tad overly salty for me but that didn’t stop me clearing the plate. Pizza marinara was an object lesson in the craft of pizza cooking. Thin dough, again perfectly crisp with none of the sogginess you so often get in the middle. The tomato sauce is everything you want from a pizza sauce. You can taste the olive oil that’s been drizzled on the dough. And the few anchovies give it just the right amount of salty seasoning. It’s another enormous offering (they wrapped the leftovers for us to take home). Have starters by all means but the mains are big enough that a previous course isn’t at all essential.
We were definitely too full for dessert. As you might expect, coffee was spot on.