It’s always a pleasure to dine by the river. You get the impression that you’re not in London anymore and that you’ve escaped the stresses of busy city life. The sight of Tower Bridge may bring you crashing back down to reality, but it’s always good to dream.
The position and the way in which Cantina Del Ponte is assembled makes you think that you could be dining in a quaint Italian trattoria. The large awnings that protect you from unpredictable English weather when you eat outside help bring that dream to life. Delicate shrubberies and mini trees line the front of the restaurant and make you feel as if you’re in your own private place.
Inside has a different feel to it. The large bar on the left as you enter is sleek and cool. This is where you can sample the aperitivi, small plates of food served with your evening drinks just before dinner. Typically Aperol Spritz or Negronis are enjoyed during this time. The restaurant itself has a beautifully rustic feel to it and the mural on the wall is striking. Its earthy tones give it a relaxed ambiance.
When it comes to the food, Cantina Del Ponte concentrates on a blend of traditional Italian dishes with a few innovations in the mix. Starters range between £5.95 and £13 for a full antipasto dish, and the starters are their strongest point. The simplicity of the prosciutto paired with figs is a delight: the figs are plump and juicy and combine perfectly with the ham. The beef carpaccio, with elegant shaves of parmesan, is a credit to them. Italian food is about simple ingredients executed well and this is what they have done with their starters. The beef in particular is not to be missed.
However, the main courses are a bit of a mixed bag. The tuna comes perfectly rare and is cooked brilliantly, yet it’s a shame that seasoning does not feature. Tuna needs a bit of help in the seasoning department or it risks coming across quite bland, which is disappointing considering the quality of the fish. The wild boar ragù with mounds of delicious papardelle pasta is pleasing on the eye, but again lacking the vital seasoning. These dishes could be excellent if a little bit more care is taken.
Fortunately Cantina Del Ponte completely redeems itself by producing a fantastic modern take on a classic: tiramisù. It arrives in a glass and has just about the right amount of coffee flavourings and light cream. It’s a great way to round off your meal.
Cantina Del Ponte is a good restaurant that could be excellent. The dishes are interesting and authentic and the scenery and ambience is stunning. If they tidy up their main courses it will be brilliant.