Is it the New Forest or Little Italy? Ray's Italian Kitchen in brings a bit of Med living to the south coast.
Ray’s Italian Kitchen opened its doors in December of 2018 under the experienced hand of local restaurateur Stacey Crouch. Stacey has run and worked in a number of food establishments around the area, making her well ingrained in the New Forest food scene. Plus as a trained chef, she oversees the daily running while also working the kitchen herself. She named the spot for her dad (awww!) and it specialises in small plates, giant sharing charcuterie boards and Italian classics.
The Italian ethos really runs deep here. While there are cosy little booths for a romantic date night, there are huge tables for any big gathering.
The place is really geared up for every member of your family and promotes that food is the social affair that the Italians are particularly proud of.
The evening we went the place was packed with locals, enjoying a relaxed meal out with friends and family, but there wasn’t a single ounce of cliqueyness to be felt at all. The staff were attentive and smiley, with nothing being too much trouble without hovering over you too much.
Also, despite the open kitchen, the sounds and smells can’t be overheard or smelt (definite bonus points). The decor is both rustic yet modern, and with the golds and blues it lends itself to a really homely sense – almost like your mum’s kitchen.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The range of dishes on offer is huge. With gluten-free, vegan and veggie options, plus a good dose of meat and fish for the omnivores.
I opted for the King Prawns with garlic, Pinot Bianco, parsley and lemon to start. It was the most expensive starter at, a still very reasonable, £8.00. The prawns were fresh, really meaty and chunky and had already been shelled (no messy fingers, hoorah!). The flavours were spot on and the dish wasn’t greasy in the slightest.
Following on from my seafood, I opted for the Salsa Di Nochi spinach and ricotta tortellini with Cavollo Nero (£12.00). Initially it was quite spicy, however, the creaminess of the sauce (and it was exceptionally creamy) took any uncomfortable heat off. The walnut mascarpone cream had chunks of walnut in giving it a real mix of both flavour and texture.
And finally, although I was pretty full (!) we shared a Lemon Posset (£5.00) for dessert that came with a side of homemade raspberry shortbread. The posset was very fresh tasting and light. It almost felt like a pallet cleanser and didn’t sit heavily on me at all.
We opted for a simple Merlot to accompany our food at £6.00 for a large glass.
OUT & ABOUT
Milford-on-Sea, as its name suggests, is right smack bang on the coast and thus offers a perfect excuse for a pre- or post meal walk along the shoreline.
The village is also home to lots of independent boutiques such as No64 Biscuit House and various antique shops and traditional spots like butchers and greengrocers. If you’re looking for a bit of heritage, nature and culture, Hurst Spit and Hurst Point Lighthouse are nearby, perfect for exploring.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: Pretty much almost everybody. This is very much a family affair whether you want to take everybody you know and the kids, or just a quiet romantic date for two – both are well catered for.
NOT FOR: Quite simply, anybody who doesn’t like Italian food or seafood.
THE DAMAGE: £ – Very reasonable with starters maxing out at £8.00 and the most expensive pizza and pasta coming in at £12.00
Ray’s Italian Kitchen, 11, High St, Milford on Sea, Lymington SO41 0QF; raysitaliankitchen.co.uk