Experience Italy in Horsham’s centre

JPCT 200213 Carmela Deli, Carfax, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 200213 Carmela Deli, Carfax, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

Horsham is now home to an extravagant range of overseas-inspired eateries, but what constitutes a foreign theme and the real thing? Carmela Deli in the Carfax might give you your answer.

We all have our favourites, whether it’s the spice of India, the tang of Thai or the taste of Italy. Many places like to merge a number of cultures, like a melting pot of east meets west, but there’s certainly one place that remains true to its roots.

Located in a small 16th century building in Horsham’s town centre, overlooking the bustle of afternoon shoppers, Carmela does not stand out amongst the crowd from outside, but if you catch its wonderful display of Italian brand goods in the window, you get a pretty good inkling as to what they serve to their discerning customers (the name’s also a dead giveaway).

Decor: Stepping inside, the first thing you notice is the deli counter brimming with Italian cheeses, meats and antipasti - all exuding a pleasant foodie aroma that immediately transports you across the Mediterranean Sea.

Decorated in greens and blacks, to the left are a few tables and chairs, so you can snag a cosy corner, amongst the display of real Italian imported wines, chocolate and biscuits.

Service: Greeted from behind the counter, I had two members of staff tending to my needs.

Attempting to pay with card, I was advised that there is a minimum £7 charge, which at first caught me off guard, but I can’t complain if my bill falls short of that.

Probably the speediest service I have encountered since I began this caffeine quest, I was impressed, but felt that the rapid response can sometimes mean a lack of communication between the customer and staff.

Drink: A reasonable range of coffees from your espresso to your Americano - as always I went for the Americano and I must say if this is an authentic Italian brew, I’m moving to Rome.

Strong, aromatic and full of flavour - it tasted as though they had freshly ground the beans at my table - maybe that’s the future of coffee.

The milk, as usual, came in a separate pourer, but thankfully it actually came with a fully functional spout - this is likely to be the first time I’ve added milk without spillage.

I cannot forget to mention the nibble of Biscotti that came on the saucer - a nice touch.

Food: A fantastic range of sandwiches, paninis and calzones (amongst many other varieties) I could not resist the Goats Cheese and Red Roased Pepper Calzone. Arriving piping hot with a side of fresh tomatoes sprinked with herbs and a dash of balsamic vinegar, I tucked in to flavour a lovely creamy texture, like the goats cheese had come straight from the deli counter. Delizioso!

Value for money: I went solo for this little trip to Horsham’s very own Italian venture; therefore, a drink and snack for one came to an agreeable £5.20. A return visit is definitely in the cards.