When Obica launched its first UK endeavour, it unsurprisingly turned heads. As an established and highly celebrated eatery in its native land since 2004, here it found itself in a somewhat saturated market of passionless pizza and pasta dishes, masquerading as Mediterranean delicacies.
Laying out the groundwork as the UK’s first mozzarella bar, Obica found distinction through putting its rich experience and deep knowledge to work – producing a meticulously designed menu centred wholly on the fresh hand-made cheese from premium buffalo milk it is now infamous for.
Obica St Pauls is difficult to ignore. Located just a few blocks away from the impressive Cathedral itself, it doesn’t impose an abrasive façade, or overflow onto the street with culinary theatrics. Instead, it subtly radiates a comforting welcome through its floor-to-ceiling windows with buzzing patrons behind, beckoning you into the stylishly sleek modern eatery full of flavour and soul.
This encapsulates the essence of Obica. It leverages simplicity, whether in its design, its menu, or even its operation, to elevate the unique qualities it proudly brings to the table. While the food sections read as one would expect, with an array of small plates, tasting boards, salad, pizzas, pastas and the likes, there’s twists and turns in flavours too, with raspberry dressings topping pizzas and burrata featuring in burgers. This is a menu for the lovers of familiar favourites, and the adventurous diners alike.
Even the most basic of its offerings are packed with focussed quality. The pizza dough, for instance, is prepared with Molino Paolo Mariani flour and sourdough, and undergoes a 48-hour slow-rising process to make the pizzas fragrant and highly digestible. The fresh pasta, made in Campania with the most precious varieties of Italian durum wheat, is handmade by local producers, bronze-drawn, and dried with the traditional Cirillo method.
The authenticity can’t be overstated. All the ingredients go through a meticulous preselecting process, with the emphasis on high-quality Italian producers and a quick shipping. The freshness factor is absolutely vital – the renowned mozzarella reaches the restaurants the morning after the producer has created it, and lands on the plates within that same 24 hour period. And the taste is unmistakable.
A menu highlight is undeniably the Burrata and Saffron pizza, which incorporates the flavours of the luxuriously creamy Buffalo Mozzarella with Buffalo Ricotta, Basil Parmigiano Reggiano Chips, and Black Pepper. It marries perfectly with the texture of the Obica dough to create a decadent experience to please all palettes.
Freshly prepared, the dessert menu merges traditional and contemporary recipes of creams and cakes for a genuine taste of the Italian sugary appetite. The decadently creamy Tiramisu is unmissable if you have a sweet tooth, with the Obica Affogato as a flawless final touch for the meal.
The key to the success of the menu is the personal touch. There’s an intimacy in the knowledge held by the chefs and creators that can only be explained by passion. There’s no ‘head office’, or corporate management. The Obica teams work directly from the restaurants, focussing on experience deliverables rather than logistical bureaucracy. There’s personal investment, too. The recipes are identical across all the branches internationally, and the chefs regularly travel cross-continent to teach the best techniques and absorb inspiration from their fellow masterminds.
You won’t find a lengthy branch list on Obica’s location page any time soon. The restaurant is less interested in expansion than in refining and developing its existing sites – though there is an exciting upcoming rebranding that is likely to bring with it a new selection of treats and surprises for Obica fans to indulge in.
Obica has deservedly established itself as the genuine Italian dining experience in London. It has emulated the roaring success it has seen in its native Italy, offering authenticity and soul to Mediterranean dining in the Capital – and indeed, beyond. And with the rebranding around the corner, the future looks brighter than ever for it.
You can immerse yourself in the Obica experience at your nearest mozzarella bar here.
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