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Published: 17 April 2008
Mimo Rimoli, owner of the new Fratelli la Bufala Mornington Crescent
Mimo Rimoli, owner of the new Fratelli la Bufala Mornington Crescent
Why we go wild for this Italian!

The man behind the new Fratelli la Bufala uses meat from his own family’s ‘beef belt’ buffalo farm in Campania, writes Dan Carrier

MIMO Rimoli’s family are not primarily restaurateurs: they are food producers.
The Rimolis run a buffalo farm in the picturesque Italian “beef belt” of Campania. From here they produce high-quality buffalo products: we’re talking mozzarella, of course, and other cheeses including ricotta. Then they use the buffalo for such carnivorous delights as steaks, sausages and meatballs.
And buffalo is a superb alternative to beef. Leaner and, to many palates, tastier, it produces marbled meat and is made even better by the curing and hanging processes experienced producers such as the Rimolis use.
Mimo is the Neopolitan owner of Fratelli la Bufala in South End Green which opened three years ago and has attracted a following. I know people who have their own regular tables and who discuss the food they are going to eat between each visit.
The restaurant was one of Hampstead’s best-kept secrets.
Now Mimo has opened a second London restaurant – this time bringing his passion for Italian food to Mornington Crescent.
His family already have 120 restaurants across Italy as well as their buffalo farm.
But the Rimolis are more than gentleman farmers. They have taken their food philosophy from the beautiful rolling pastures straight into the kitchen. Mimo’s family set up and run a pizza-making school in Naples, working to produce the finest dough and sauces and from their extensive contacts sourcing the very best ingredients.
Add this to Mimo’s obvious joy in earning a daily crust by sharing his family’s vast experience with those fortunate to go and eat in his restaurant, and you have quality food without any pretensions.
It is hard to know what to recommend: the menu has too many delights. But you can’t go far wrong by starting off with two platters that give you an idea of the range of the chefs’ skills – one featuring different types of buffalo cheeses and crunchy salad nibbles to go alongside them; the second has breaded buffalo-meat patties, which drew a chorus of “oohs” from my fellow diners.
For the main course, I went for pasta – I have had a few of the pizzas and know how lovely they are, so, for journalistic research purposes, I steered away from the simple options of Mimo’s own favourite (a selection of buffalo cheeses on an oregano and basil- flavoured tomato sauce, topped off gently with provola) or the superb Capriciosa (it has artichoke hearts and honey roasted ham, among ­other things).
The wood-fired ovens will have to accommodate my yearnings for their pizza dough another time. But despite my somewhat brave choice of not going for what I know and love, the pasta did not disappoint. The ribbons of pappardelle were coated in a creamy ricotta sauce and had the added delight of a subtle olive oil and garlic base. My fellow diner chose a steak – he’d had one there in the previous week and had been thinking about it ever since. He coupled it with two vegetables on the side and an order of chips (crunchy on the outside, fluffy within).
For an Italian meal, where good conversation is as important an accompaniment as the wine, we were strangely silent: the food was just too good for frivolous discussion.
Fratelli la Bufala was busy: lunch-time tables were taken, and Mimo was flitting from one to another, patting backs and generally enjoying the feeling of being the captain of such a successful and happy ship.
I challenge anyone to find a better pizza in London. I challenge anybody to find a better steak, and I challenge anyone to find a more welcoming place to eat, where you are looked after by a family whose passion for food is displayed in every dish they serve.

• Fratelli la Bufala,
1 Hardwick Place, Mornington Crescent, NW1
020 7388 6041

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