Michael Morris Estate Agents Finsbury Park has built up relationships with hundreds of local people over our 20-plus years of selling and renting properties in N4 and its environs. We are dedicating some of our blogs to recognise some of the work done by the people we have encountered.
Morris Orlando and Sara Meli, owners of Finsbury Park's new eaterie Incontro are not your stereotypical restauranteurs. Their delightful restaurant which has been open less than a year, is situated opposite The Old Dairy and is fast gaining a word of mouth reputation across an eclectic client base, judging by the raft of highly favourable comments on Trip Advisor (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d9813125-Reviews-Incontro_Restaurant-London_England.html). The Italian eating experience is Incontro’s USP and it boldly reflects the likeable Italians’ career paths which led them to try their luck on what might have seemed like a risky location.
Morris knows the broader area of Finsbury Park well having successfully launched the popular Osteria Tufo restaurant in Fonthill Road. Osteria did well serving the thriving business and residential area around Fonthill Road but Morris wanted buck the trend of more covers for more money – he wanted to open a restaurant that was driven entirely by quality. And with Sara, whose background had been in hospitality and still is in yoga and holistic practices, a new kind of restaurant model was born. Sara explains: “From day one, we wanted Incontro to be a community resource, we have sourced all the vegetables from local organic outlets and our meat and fish are procured from ethical suppliers. And of course, we boast a superb Italian wine list. What we are trying to achieve is a dining experience over and above a the concept of a nice meal out.” And for around £35 a head, that is a price that should whet the appetite, matching the quality of upmarket Islington and too far north of prices in the more standard fare on Stroud Green Road.
The ambience is pitched perfectly, ticking all the boxes for the type of clientele they are trying to entice. Minimalist modern mixes with carefully chosen restored tables, chairs and cupboards, all refurbished by Morris. And like craftspeople who wouldn’t want extra staff to dilute the image and experience, the restaurant is run entirely by Morris and Sara. “Sure, it’s challenging,” says Morris. “But we know how we want the restaurant to be run, how to cultivate relationships with customers and how to make sure they leave after a really fulfilling eating experience. Given the restaurant’s increasing popularity, it will not be long before more like-minded staff will be required.
That experience includes an impressive menu boasting the finest regional Italian dishes prepared with a very personal touch. Says Sara: “The menu is a starting point; we strive to provide vegetables of choice to accompany the meal and Morris always prepares the food to the customer’s exact specification. When we are busy, I love the challenge of ensuring each cover has my personal attention. I feel like everyone who comes here is a personal friend.” And it seems the regulars see Morris and Sara as friends with two families booking separate small events during closing hours. “It’s great when people feel they want to use us to organise a celebration,” says Morris.
So is there room for this kind of model in the vast array of the capital’s restaurants? Morris believes it is: “ People’s eating habits are changing. Sure, the quality pizza outlets will always survive but look how people are also spending more on gourmet-style home deliveries. After nine months of trading, we have seen that a fabulous meal and dining experience provides a local area with a great night out. People who come here once, invariably come again and our customers spend around two hours here.
To find out why this small restaurant is so beautiful, make your way to 4 Crouch Hill N4, Wednesday to Saturday, 18.00 to 23.00. You won’t be disappointed.