Marisko brings the beach (and seafood) to the old Holloway Castle pub
10 March, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
Marisko’s signature lobster paella is made for sharing
Against all the odds, a meal at Marisko conjures up happy memories of a beach holiday. The location is a shock – a busy corner of Camden Road, seconds from the A1.
“Here it’s very unusual to find a restaurant,” says owner Luis Pizarro, a Chilean scientist and engineer.
One of five brothers, he takes care of the customers while Franco runs the kitchen out back.
It was a Review reader who first tipped me off about this restaurant, which specialises in fresh seafood sold by the weight.
“My wife and I live locally and are among the all-too-few regulars,” the reader had said.
Pizarro later bought the place and I can see why he took the gamble.
For a start, the décor is fun and fabulous – a highly imaginative riff on the nautical theme.
Marisko is built in the footprint of the old Holloway Castle pub.
Orange is the prime colour inside, brightening up the chairs and Marisko emblem: a large cartoon crab with bulging eyes.
The walls are festooned with fishing net and oyster shells. Quality salsa and flamenco was our soundtrack.
As you walk in, you find the long bar and fish counter to your left. At one end is the catch of the day, sparkling on crushed ice: mussels; clams; baby cuttlefish; langoustines; twitching lobsters and the like.
At the other, a beautiful antique deep sea divers’ helmet takes pride of place by the till.
Marisko is a something of a Tardis. We moved tables when we discovered the large backroom with cosy (artificial) fireplace and large aquarium.
A gigantic wooden sculpture of a lobster dominates one corner of the light room, carved from one piece of wood and imported all the way from Barcelona. Even better is the secret VIP-boat room hidden behind the tank of fish.
“The idea of this room is you feel like you’re sailing while you’re eating,” Pizarro says.
The long, curving table seats around 12. There’s a lighthouse drawn on the wall, along with starfish and pictures of boats. I’ll be booking it for my next birthday party.
We visited Marisko for Sunday lunch. From Tuesday to Saturday, Marisko is only open in the evening from 5.30-11pm.
The food is simple, high quality and cheap. You pick the seafood and choose to have it grilled, fried or boiled.
We grazed on mussels in homemade tomato sauce, deep-fried whitebait, plump garlicky prawns and excellent chips for around £15 per head.
Their paellas – lobster or mixed seafood – are a signature dish and designed to share.
Puddings include coconut ice cream and pineapple sorbet.
Marisko offers live music on Friday and Saturday, often from friends of the owner – from the traditional music of the Andes to Argentinian bossa nova.
Unsurprisingly, the restaurant has built up a loyal local following and boasts excellent reviews online.
This is a fun place to eat, an excellent choice for celebrations or large groups, and way cheaper than a sun-and-sand holiday.
392 Camden Road, N7